What do insects do in the winter? It depends on the species! Some overwinter as adults, others as eggs, some as pupae.
The Pine Tube Moth (Argyrotaenia pinatubana) overwinters as a pupa inside a tube made of pine needles. I walked through the woods for decades and never noticed them. Someone pointed one out to me and now… well… I can’t walk past a White Pine without seeing a tube. (Isn’t weird how you learn a new word, or see something new outside that you never noticed before… and suddenly – it’s EVERYWHERE?)
A mature caterpillar uses silk to create a tube by binding up to twenty needles. They usually eat the ends off the needles that make up the tube, and perhaps a few nearby needles.
If you find short tubes – less than one inch, these are likely abandoned tubes built by immature caterpillars to protect themselves while eating.
I’ve never seen the critter that makes the tube. I poked around on the ‘net, though, and found the images that follow. Click on them to go to the sources.
OK, now you go look for tubes made of pine needles. Report back! Once spring (early to mid-April) arrives, we’ll have to go looking for adults, then eggs and caterpillars. (I wonder what the eggs look like, hmmm…?) Apparently there will be two generations before winter… so we can look again in July for adults.
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