Soon, I found another branch with more wooly aphids and we repeated our careful examination and found one caterpillar on this branch! Victory! This is the only known butterfly caterpillar that is carnivorous, feeding on wooly aphids rather than plant material. It was pretty exciting to find as neither of us had ever seen one before! Eventually, it will turn into a beautiful Harvester butterfly.
You can see there are lots of ants around the wooly aphids. Ants are in a mutualistic relationship with the aphids, protecting them from predators and eating the honeydew they excrete. After reading that, though, I wondered why the ants didn't attack the Harvester caterpillar. I later learned that the exoskeleton of the Harvester caterpillar is similar to the cuticle of an aphid, so the ants may "smell" aphid when in reality it's a Harvester caterpillar. Chemical camouflage!
We were just leaving the wooly aphids when I saw a flash of orange fly by which I thought may have been a Pearl Crescent. I lost sight of it, but Marjorie found a Bronze Copper on a bloom of Goldenrod that must have been what I had seen in flight. It was fresh and beautiful! Within seconds, we spotted two more as well as an Eastern Tailed Blue. Suddenly things were picking up!
Bronze Copper #1
Bronze Copper #2
This one moved more than the other two we saw. It flew from grass to grass in the same general area.
#2 demonstrating tight-rope walking
Bronze Copper #3 stayed in this weed the whole time.
Eastern Tailed Blue #1
Eastern Tailed Blue #2
Shamrock Orb Weaver spider (I think)
Painted Lady #2
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
against its beautiful zinnia background