Larvae Prevalent
Inside the Outdoors, August 26,
2016

As long as I’ve been fishing, the rule was, “If clear water use white lures; if muddy use black.” Well, that’s not always the case as I found out fishing with some friends on the Lower Twin Lake recently.

The captain of my ship (paddle boat), Steve Gordon, convinced me by usage of primary white plastic jigs that fish love the color white in the very muddy compound. He said he always uses that color and does very well with it.

On our trip last week, I had a small white jig that I had put aside to hook to sell at the Latrobe Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays from 12 to 4 p.m. Instead, I took it with me and decided to follow the captain’s advice. I no sooner attached it to my line and tossed it over the boat, swaying my rod slowly left and right did I hook the biggest crappie I’ve ever caught in my life.

Mind you, the jig was no bigger than one-inch long.

This gives me something to think about wherever my next excursion takes me.

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Many times as I sit at my booth at the Farmers’ Market do I sense nature all around me. Need I mention the many geese feeding near the bandstand, the sun beginning to peak through the leaves of the tall hickory trees or the small squirrels at play all through Legion Keener Park.

Instead of looking straight ahead, I decided to look down on the graveled path only to see a visitor that caught my attention. Struggling to make its way from rock to rock was no other than a hickory tussock moth larva. In Latin, it would be called the Lophocampa caryae. Either way, it comes out to be the same critter.

It stands to reason that this larva is prevalent under these trees. The tall growths are hickory trees.

Now, it may also interest some that these creatures are not found all over the United States, but more so in Pennsylvania and where an abundance of these trees are found.

The following information all comes from en.wikipedia.org.

The white larva with black dots has one life cycle annually. “It is completely covered in long, hairlike setae arranged in spreading tufts.” As stated before, most are that color. What caught my attention, in addition to walking down the path that sightseers travel, are the “black tufts along the middle of the back and four long black pencils, two near the front, and two near the back.”

Here is a very important warning. “These hairs cause itchy rashes in many people, particularly those prone to allergies.”

I attempted to pick one up several times, but with a plastic bag or a nearby leaf just to watch its mannerisms to no avail. Now, I’m glad we didn’t come in contact. I have enough trouble with poison ivy let along petting hairy critters such as this, not that I have ever done so – yet.

On top of that, they are “microscopically barbed and may cause serious medical complications if they are transferred from the hands to the eyes.”

I am getting the picture, and I hope readers are, too, that these may be attractive to watch, but nothing to fool with, as the saying goes. Parents, please inform your children not to walk in the park in bare feet. These caterpillars are seen between July and October.

“The cocoon, or pupa, is loose and has setae woven into it. It overwinters in the leaf litter.

What evolves is the hickory tussock moth or hickory halisidota, an adult moth that flies in May and June. “The forewings are yellowish-brown marked with white splotches, reminiscent of stained glass. The hindwings are mostly white. The body is hairy and pale brown.”

So, what’s on the menu for these creatures of God?

It only makes senses to state that the moth “primarily feeds on hickory, pecan and walnuts, but also will eat ash, elm, oak, willow, and other plants. It occasionally causes local defoliation of nut trees, but high densities do not last long enough to cause significant damage.”

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Last week, I asked if anyone could name the trout in Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Bat Commission website stated, “The stocked trout include the rainbow, the golden rainbow, brown, brook, and tiger trout. There are others in Lake Erie.

The tiger trout is a hybrid between a brook and a brown trout. Small numbers of this species have been stocked, but they are extremely rare.

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Congratulations to Latrobe’s Charlie Bizich, who caught a “fat” 17-inch walleye at the Conemaugh Lake Dam on a nightcrawler. It was passed on as a gift to his chauffeur, Stan Gordon.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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