Hi folks, Ben here with Friday's #BenInNature update!

Hi folks, Ben here with Friday's #BenInNature update! I'm going to take a little time off for the holidays, but I'll be back on Monday, Dec. 28 with brand-new updates, and we'll be sharing nature posts from the archives over the course of the next week.

Speaking of blasts from the past, here's a photo and video that I shot during the late summer of a pretty cool little caterpillar: the redbud leaffolder moth Fascista cercerisella. These moths are found in the eastern and midwestern U.S., and the larvae feed exclusively on the leaves of eastern redbud trees (Cercis canadensis).

Caterpillars always offer a tasty snack to birds and other predators, and the redbud leaffolder caterpillar has a pretty neat method of avoiding being eaten. As you can see in the video and the photo, they use silk to "stitch" the leaf together overtop of themselves, giving them a little shelter that they can hide in while they skeletonize the leaf!

If you have a redbud tree on your property, be sure to check it out when the weather warms up and it starts to leaf out. The damage caused by these caterpillars is pretty easy to spot, and you might just catch one folding a leaf.

Until next time, happy holidays!

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends.

You've seen the posts. You've learned the facts. Now, it's time to prove you are a #BenInNature Mega Fan! The museum's education team has developed the #BenInNature Trivia Challenge to identify the most devoted fans out there! Everyone who successfully answers each trivia question correctly will be congratulated by having your own nature selfie posted to the museum's #BenInNature Mega Fan Photo Album on the official VMNH Facebook page! Learn more and download the trivia challenge today by visiting http://www.vmnh.net/research-collections/beninnature-trivia-challenge.

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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