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Final instar Speared Dagger
A single black cherry sapling at World’s End in Hingham, Massachusetts, accommodates speared dagger caterpillars of all ages. Tiny flattened eggs, like patterned disks of cellophane, are pasted to the undersides of leaves. Nearby, newly hatched caterpillars take their first bites. They are translucent and become tinted with green as they feed. Older vibrant green and red speared daggers rest on little beds of silk. A few are scattered here and there, completely exposed on the tops of leaves. Along a twig away from the green foliage, a single larger speared dagger clings to the rough, dark bark. Coal black with a startling red mid-dorsal line, this hairy caterpillar is in its final stage before leaving the tree to pupate.