Plant-Insect Interaction: Caterpillar on a boxelder

Caterpillar (order Lepidoptera) feeding on a boxelder (Acer negundo, Aceraceae). Photographed 05/11/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

Boxelder trees (Acer negundo, Aceraceae) tend to be common in floodplains, including one in southeast Michigan where these photos were taken.  These maples have a preference for ample water and sunlight, so they grow readily in these disturbed areas.  They’re tolerant of a wide range of conditions, however, and easily colonize any disturbed area.  Because of that they’re commonly found on developed property and along ditches, fields, and roads.

Boxelders are often considered undesirable for a number of reasons.  They’re weak, easily damaged by weather, relatively unattractive, and short-lived.  The wood is of poor quality and of little use as lumber.  The trees also attract large numbers of boxelder bugs, which can be a nuisance to people.  I’ve heard people refer to boxelders as “trash” trees since they tend to grow like weeds anywhere they can.

Caterpillar (order Lepidoptera) feeding on a boxelder (Acer negundo, Aceraceae). Photographed 05/11/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

Despite the prevalence of boxelders and their negative reputation, some organisms find them valuable.  A number of butterfly and moth larvae (order Lepidoptera) are known to feed on the leaves, including the caterpillar shown here.

Advertisements

About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, Entomology, Organism Interactions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s