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On closer inspection...
I came upon a curious sight on October 8th while hiking up Pack Monadnock in New Hampshire. I thought I was just photographing insect eggs at the time, but when I got home and saw the image enlarged on my computer, it looked like an obese moth (dead?) was clinging to something that very much looked like a cocoon, and upon it were the many tiny eggs. I emailed the photo to Charley Eiseman (co-author of Tracks and Signs of Insects) and asked if he could explain what was in my photo. To my delight, he replied "Your photo is of an adult female rusty tussock moth who has laid eggs on the cocoon from which she has emerged. I've never actually seen a female, so that's a neat find."
Wow! "Neat find", huh? I felt like I'd struck gold! I've since learned more: This female moth is flightless. (You can see her vestigial wings.) She emerges from her cocoon only to attract a flying male who comes to her to mate. She then lays her eggs on top of the cocoon from which she emerged. And I guess that's it. That's her life.
Keywords: lepidoptera, moths, rusty tussock moth
it's wonderful how you not only share your visual discovery of a curious natural occurrence, but then take us on a further adventure by telling us what and how you've tracked down the "whole story". Your enthusiasm is infectious!
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