What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Caterpillar ID
August 16, 2009
Hello bugman,
I was hoping you could help me with an ID of this Caterpillar. I took this shot yesterday in Coral Springs Florida, US. It has been eating the plant you see it on (Annona salzmannii ) a fruit tree from South America. I’ve seen a couple of these in different parts of the county but they are always on plant in the Annonaceae family.
Thanks for your help
Eric Bronson
Coral Springs, Florida

Unknown Caterpillar from Florida

Fruit Piercing Moth Caterpillar from Florida

Hi Eric,
Our quick search did not turn up an ID for this distinctive caterpillar.  We will try to do additional research, but for now, we will post your image in the hope that one of our readers can supply an answer.

Cool, I suspect it may be a new invasive species. I did my homework before I submitted it to you, and I couldn’t find anything about this online or in my reference books. I hope we can figure out what it is. That I keep finding them on Annonaceae plants may be a good clue.
Thanks again for your help
Eric Bronson

Hi again Eric,
You should post a comment on our posting of your caterpillar, so if anyone writes in with an identification, you will receive a copy of the comment.

Identification courtesy of Karl
Eric:
I am fairly certain this is a Fruit-piercing Moth caterpillar (Noctuoidea: Erebidae: Calpinae) in the genus Gonodonta. Alternative taxonomic systems place this genus in the sub-family Catocalinae. Caterpillars of this group tend to be variable and several species look similar to begin with, so nailing down the species is difficult. To me it looks most similar to G. bidens, but it could also be G. pyrgo or G. incurvata. If it is any of those three then it does belong in Florida. If it is a similar species from further south (there are a few) then it is a visitor, or perhaps an invasive. One example of a G. bidens caterpillar can be found at: http://www.tulane.edu/~ldyer/lsacat/index_frames.htm (click on ‘Noctuidae’ to get to a species list).  K

Hi again Eric:
I forgot to mention that if you follow the link provided you will see that (in Costa Rica) the Annonaceae are given as host plants for G. bidens. That was a good and useful observation on your part. K

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Florida
Share →

5 Responses to Unknown Caterpillar from Florida on Annona salzmannii is Fruit Piercing Moth Caterpillar

  1. kkroeker says:

    Eric:

    I am fairly certain this is a Fruit-piercing Moth caterpillar (Noctuoidea: Erebidae: Calpinae) in the genus Gonodonta. Alternative taxonomic systems place this genus in the sub-family Catocalinae. Caterpillars of this group tend to be variable and several species look similar to begin with, so nailing down the species is difficult. To me it looks most similar to G. bidens, but it could also be G. pyrgo or G. incurvata. If it is any of those three then it does belong in Florida. If it is a similar species from further south (there are a few) then it is a visitor, or perhaps an invasive. One example of a G. bidens caterpillar can be found at: http://www.tulane.edu/~ldyer/lsacat/index_frames.htm (click on ‘Noctuidae’ to get to a species list). K

  2. Eric Bronson says:

    Thanks for the proper ID kkroeker!! I appreciate your help. I confirmed it here http://bugguide.net/node/view/69690/bgimage
    Mr. Bob Patterson had this to say,
    “Citrus Fruit-piercer, Gonodonta nutrix. Wagner Field Guide p.371. Breeding year-round in southern Florida, Custard Apple (Annona) is a larval food plant.”

    thanks again,
    Eric Bronson
    Tamarac FL, US

  3. kkroeker says:

    Hi again Eric:

    I forgot to mention that if you follow the link provided you will see that (in Costa Rica) the Annonaceae are given as host plants for G. bidens. That was a good and useful observation on your part. K

  4. Eric Bronson says:

    Thanks,
    I hope they don’t decide to make a home in my yard. I’ve seen them at my friend Noel’s house in Coral Springs (where the photo was taken), Jeff’s in Tamarac and the RFVC’s (Rare Fruit & Vegetable Council of Broward) 208 Garden. We all grow many species of Annonas and Annonaceae. They don’t seem to be a real pest though unless it’s a seedling. This may be why “They do not cause significant damage because they are heavily parasitized by a braconid wasp.” from Insect/Mite Management in Annona spp. (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IG166) University of Florida

  5. kkroeker says:

    Hi again Eric:

    Gonodonta nutrix is certainly a good possibility. I had it on my short list for a while but I couldn’t find any descriptions or images with the striped/vermicular background pattern that is evident in your photo. They generally appear to be black or dark brown, with yellow or orange spots. Hence my suggestion that it was likely one of the other species which do show striped patterns with reddish spots. However, I can’t conclude that a striped pattern does not exist for G. nutrix as well, and I couldn’t find much information on the other species (possibly an indication that they are less of a nuisance). There is an excellent site at: http://janzen.sas.upenn.edu/caterpillars/database.lasso that has caterpillar photos of a number of Gonodonta species (search for Gonodonta). If you are interested in more information about G. nutrix the USDA has posted an interesting report (pdf) entitled “Owlet Caterpillars of Eastern North America (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)” that can be accessed at: http://www.eeb.uconn.edu/people/wagner/USDA%20Noctuid%20Guide%20October%202008.pdf . It provides a good description of the G. nutrix caterpillar, as well as life history and pest status information. Interestingly, it suggests that the fruit-piercing adults are a greater threat to orchards than the leaf-munching caterpillars. Good luck! K

Add Comment Register



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>