Readers’ wildlife videos

June 26, 2020 • 7:45 am

Today we have two—count them, two—videos.

I had forgotten about the backlog of wonderful videos by the late Ecuadorian naturalist and photographer Andreas Kay, but he posted quite a few before he died at only 56. I’ll parcel them out over the coming months.  Here are his notes on a remarkable caterpillar that almost certainly deters predators by mimicking a snake. Note that, relative to the body, the “snake head” is upside down so, when presented by a clinging caterpillar, it looks like a right-side-up head.

Snake-mimic caterpillar, Hemeroplanes triptolemus, Sphingidae from the Amazon rainforest near Puyo, Ecuador. When disturbed this larva of a sphinx moth expands and exposes the underside of the first body segments, mimicking a snake head with black eyes and even light reflections. Sometimes it also strikes like a snake to deter predators such as lizards or birds. Photos here.

And Rick Longworth made this video, complete with music, of a den of foxes (mom plus kits). The play behavior of the kits is adorable. Rick’s notes:

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes). At the end of May, I noticed a group of about 5 or 6 young foxes across the Snake River at a distance of about one third of a mile from my back deck. The mother had dug a den in an earthen mound at the end of a utility road between two farms. At maximum magnification, the uneven heating of the atmosphere made the image quite unsteady.

16 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife videos

  1. I love your articles but can’t look at the pictures. I am so afraid of bugs and spiders. The only reason I am afraid of caterpillars is because of the one I saw once who ate my entire tomato plant. That thing was huge and I cannot get it out of my mind.

    1. Before I got to the end of your penultimate sentence, for some reason I felt sure you were going to say that a caterpillar ate your entire family. Weird thought.

        1. Must be. Do not watch “Mothra” even though Mothra is a beneficient monster, she begins life as a giant caterpillar.

        1. I bet it was a tomato horn worm. They are huge and scary looking. Big red faces that look like an angry tomato.

  2. The caterpillar is astonishing.

    I recall Dawkins’ book Greatest Show on Earth has a beautiful photo of the amazing snake mimic caterpillar.

  3. Love the videos. I was once privileged to observe a den of fox kits playing outside their burrow. I was only about 100 yards away and got to watch them for several minutes until mama got a bit skittish and shooed her babies inside. Twas in the day before cell phone videos were possible, so no record of the event.

  4. Regardless of the photo issues the playing fox is delightful. My fox experience is with zoos so this video is especially nice. Thanks

      1. Love the young foxes playing. At around .44 it seems that one of them does an almost somersault but hard to tell.

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