If you’ve been reading Ecosystem Gardening for a while, you’ve gotten to see some of the most amazing critters that have been observed in our wildlife gardens.

We’ve set the stage. We’ve planted a wide variety of native plants that attract lots of different kinds of wildlife. And we’ve been blessed by an amazing variety of wildlife species who have chosen to share our space with us.

Gardening for wildlife is truly one of the few things that you can do in this world that has such immediate benefits for wildlife, and for you too as you begin to notice the wonders of nature that can be found right in your own backyard wildlife garden.

Creating a wildlife garden is really an If You Build It, They Will Come activity.

The Saddleback caterpillar pictured above was observed during a visit to my friend Pat Sutton’s beautiful wildlife garden in Cape May, NJ.

The saddleback caterpillar (Acharia stimulea) is a species of caterpillar that is native to North America. It is commonly known for its distinctive appearance, with a brownish-green body covered in long, hair-like spines, and a distinctive brown saddle-shaped marking on its back.

Saddleback caterpillars feed on the leaves of a variety of trees and shrubs, including oak, hickory, and citrus. While they are not considered a major pest, heavy infestations can cause significant defoliation of trees and shrubs.

The saddleback caterpillar’s spines contain toxins that can cause skin irritation, rashes, and even anaphylactic shock in some people. If you come into contact with a saddleback caterpillar, it’s important to wash your skin thoroughly and avoid touching your face or eyes.

The saddleback caterpillar undergoes a complete metamorphosis, transforming into a green-brown pupa before emerging as a moth. The adult moths are not harmful to people or plants, and play an important role in the ecosystem as pollinators and as a food source for birds and other predators.

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