What is this white growth?
Is this likely left behinds from a Caterpillar cocoon or is it some sort of fungus. If its a fungus what type?
- Dean M.Lv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
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ADDED - That certainly is unique. I can't say I've ever sen anything quite like it. Do you happen to know the type of tree this was on? To me, it appears to be an elm, but it might be an unlobed mulberry. The closest cocoon I know of to yours is a silkworm moth's: http://www.everythingabout.net/articles/biology/an... I also considered sawfly larvae, as there's a sawfly specific to butternut which gets a "hairy" waxy coating: http://www.paradise-jewelry.com/images/caterpillar... but you can see these actually moving because of the sawfly larvae within (this is the larval stage, and the larvae are active eating the leaves of the butternuts; they metamorphose underground, so would not make a cocoon on the back of a leaf). That's why knowing the tree species might help with the identification.
If the leaves are deciduous and close to falling, you might try to collect whatever this is and keep it over the winter (in a cool area) to see if anything emerges in the spring. Or, you might want to take it to a university or large museum to see if an entomologist can identify it. That's assuming that you can tell if this was something natural, not the strands of hair from someone's curly white-haired dog that got stuck on the back of the leaf somehow. You can use a pair of tweezers to tease some of the hairs away to see if you can expose a cocoon (empty or occupied) underneath.