This spring, partners from the Hershey Company and Land O’Lakes joined staff from the Alliance’s Agriculture and Forests teams at Breckbill Acres in Anneville, PA, to plant trees along a tributary to Swatara Creek. Breckbill Acres is a 70-cow dairy operation supplying milk to Land O’Lakes and the Hershey Company. The trees planted along the stream will help stabilize the stream bank and filter runoff from surrounding fields.

As we were laying out trees on the farm, we found this White Admiral butterfly caterpillar! Did it find itself under the wrong end of a bird? No! This insect’s appearance acts as camouflage, making it look like bird droppings. Now that’s a crappy disguise!

A caterpillar on a small, young tree.

A White Admiral caterpillar enjoying a young black willow tree.

The native black willow tree, in addition to intercepting nutrient pollution, cooling the water, and reducing erosion, will act as habitat for this native butterfly and other wildlife. We don’t mind feeding some caterpillars with our trees. In fact, we encourage it! After pupating, the caterpillar emerges as a butterfly, flying off to do, you know, butterfly things.

A blue, black and white butterfly sitting on the ground

An adult White Admiral butterfly

720 trees were planted with volunteers to create 2.66 acres of new riparian forest habitat at Breckbill Acres. This is part of over 600 acres of new forest planted by the Alliance in the past few years. We plan on planting even more this fall. Want to be a part of it? We’d love to have you! Sign up for our monthly newsletter, the Confluence, today to stay up to date with all of our upcoming volunteer opportunities.