Edible Caterpillar, Pandora Pinemoth (Coloradia pandora)

A caterpillar fell on my head while I was photographing lichen growing on a Pinyon Pine.  This is my hick from the sticks version of excitement.  Bears and Puma and Rattlesnakes are rated on the scream and run scale.

Pandora Pinemoth (Coloradia pandora)

Pandora Pinemoth (Coloradia pandora)

This guy is big, about the size of a woman’s little finger.  By next month he will likely pupate in an underground chamber on his way to becoming a Pandora Pinemoth.  I saw the moth here… once… but failed to identify it.  It is large, mostly grays, but with a lovely pink on the bottom portion of the wings.  I don’t have a photo, but saw a good photograph on What’s That Bug? http://www.whatsthatbug.com/2007/07/11/pandora-pinemoth-caterpillars-called-piuga-by-the-paiute/

The same information was on my preferred site Butterflies and Moths of North America, but this was a prettier photograph.

If you are dying to try cooked Pandora Pinemoth, Wikipedia has the Paiute recipe.  I am not eating this guy, so I am not putting the recipe down here!

I hope he didn’t intend to leap out of the tree, because I carefully put him back.  After a wait, he crawled up the tree, apparently unhurt by his adventures.

Pandora Pinemoth (Coloradia pandora)

Pandora Pinemoth (Coloradia pandora)

He is better disguised on pine bark. The fall, capture, and restoration hopefully didn’t addle his brains.  Addled mine!  I am grateful he didn’t get tangled in my hair.

Pandora Pinemoth can defoliate various pine trees if they are in sufficient numbers, in which case the Forest Service wants to spray poison on everything.  I admit that I side with the Paiute on this one… eat them.

I meant YOU eat them!  They are a delicacy!  I’ll watch!  Birds eat Pandora Pinemoth, so can you.



About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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