LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Mark Robbins was looking for birds in the predawn darkness at the Kansas University Fitch Natural History Reservation north of Lawrence when he thought he heard a gentle rain falling.
The university's ornithology collection manager started seeing barren hackberry branches as the sun came up, then noticed thousands of caterpillars. That's when he realized the rain he thought he heard was really the sound of caterpillars defecating.
Robbins told the Lawrence Journal-World ( http://bit.ly/Iw18Bz ) the caterpillars soon will turn into Hackberry Emperor butterflies in bigger numbers than he has ever seen. He's not sure why there are so many of the insects this early, but thinks the warm weather helped more of them survive the winter.
Information from: Lawrence Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com