Currently viewing the category: "Cutworms and Owlet Caterpillars"
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Subject: Strange caterpillar I cannot identify
Location: I couldn’t find the location as this was last summer but it was about 5 Km outside of Boyle, Alberta.
January 1, 2015 12:27 pm
Dear, Mr.Bugman,
I found this caterpillar in the boreal forest of Alberta, Canada. Unfortunately I learned the hard way that it does in fact sting. It’s body is mostly orange but has a stripe of white near it’s belly. When it turns left or white you can see that it is banded with black and also what three black tufts of hair. Two near it’s head and one near its rear. On both sides of it’s body it has very fine tufts of white hairs.
Signature: Sincerely, Kyle Howard

Alder Dagger Moth Caterpillar

Fingered Dagger Moth Caterpillar

Dear Kyle,
We quickly located a matching image of your caterpillar on North Coast Diaries where it is identified as Acronicta hesperida with the indication that it is “not so common on the ground, but easy to find on the branches of alder trees.
”  While we did not find that species on BugGuide, your image matches the images of the Fingered Dagger Moth or Alder Dagger Moth Caterpillars that are posted on BugGuide where it states:   “western populations formerly considered a separate species (Acronicta hesperida) are now considered synonymous with A. dactylina.”  BugGuide also notes:  “uncommon, but widely distributed.”

Kathleen Travis Perin liked this post
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What is this Western Bluebird eating?
Location: 40º18’14,10″N, 121º52’22.43″W
December 29, 2014 1:16 pm
Dear Bugpersons,
I photographed a Western Bluebird as it foraged with conspecifics in a huge oak woodland in Northern California at 783 meters elevation. It carried a larvalike thing onto the road surface and proceeded to whack it to death! The attached photo shows the unfortunate prey object pre-whacking. What bug is that?
Many thanks.
Signature: Sylvia

Western Bluebird eats Cutworm

Western Bluebird eats Cutworm

Hi Sylvia,
Thanks for submitting your excellent Food Chain image.  Our good friend lepidopterist always says that insects, including the caterpillars of butterflies and moths, exist to feed birds.  This caterpillar appears to be a Cutworm in the subfamily which you can find represented on BugGuide, possibly a Winter Cutworm.

Subject: Western Bluebird
December 30, 2014 12:34 am
Thank you for your speedy reply! Winter Cutworm looks correct. Here’s an edited photo that shows a little more detail of the caterpillar. Rather disheartening to learn that this introduced species is so widespread, but I doubt that the Bluebirds mind.
Signature: Sylvia

Western Bluebird eats Cutworm

Western Bluebird eats Cutworm

Thanks for the update Sylvia.  The nice thing about some introduced species is that they do provide food for native species.

Andrea Leonard Drummond liked this post
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Caterpillar
Location: Welland ON Canada
September 21, 2014 9:04 am
The attached picture was taken in Welland Ontario on 18th September 2014.
The caterpillar was on New England Aster and was close to 50 mm long.
Signature: Rick Young

Goldenrod Hooded Owlet Moth Caterpillar

Goldenrod Hooded Owlet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Rick,
This is the caterpillar of a Hooded Owlet Moth in the genus
Cucullia, and of the species represented on BugGuide, it most closely resembles the Goldenrod Hooded Owlet Moth Caterpillar, Cucullia asteroides.  Hooded Owlet Moth Caterpillars were selected as our Bug of the Month for September 2014.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: eating lotus leaf
Location: delaware
September 17, 2014 1:48 pm
found him a couple days ago. never saw anything like it
Signature: curious bug

Smeared Dagger Moth Caterpillar

Smeared Dagger Moth Caterpillar

Dear Curious Bug,
This is a Smeared Dagger Moth Caterpillar,
Acronicta oblinita, also known as a Smartweed Caterpillar.  Interestingly, we located another image online on All Posters that is feeding on a lotus leaf.  According to BugGuide, the caterpillar feeds on “A variety of forbs, shrubs, and trees” and “Caution, larva may ‘sting’ if handled.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: So unusual
Location: Central PA
August 30, 2014 11:04 am
I have never seen this before but such unusual color and pattern. Quite lovely.
Taken 8-29-14 in Central, PA not far from a lake in early afternoon.
It was about 3 inches long.
Signature: Abby

Hooded Owlet Caterpillar

Hooded Owlet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Abby,
This is a Hooded Owlet Moth Caterpillar in the genus
Cucullia, and after browsing through the species represented on BugGuide, we believe the closest match is to Cucullia omissa, which according to BugGuide goes by the common names Omitted Cucullia or Alberta Falconer.  This image from BugGuide depicts an individual with coloration that matches the Hooded Owlet Moth Caterpillars in your image, though other examples indicate the coloration of the caterpillar may be variable.  Another strong possibility is the Gray Hooded Owlet, Cucullia florea, and there are several images on BugGuide with a similar color pattern including this one from Maine and this one from New Hampshire.  It might even be a Goldenrod Hooded Owlet, Cucullia asteroides, based on the coloration of this individual from BugGuide.  There are also some individuals pictured on BugGuide that look like your caterpillars that are not identified to the species level.  The genus as a whole is described on BugGuide as:  “Adult: mostly drab gray moths with some fine black streaking; forewing long and narrow; tuft of hairs projecting from thorax forms a large pointed hood over the head, giving adults a streamlined “aerodynamic” appearance (a distinctive feature).  Larva: usually smooth (hairless) and very colorful, with mixed patterns of spots, stripes, and/or patches of mostly yellow, red, green, blue, and black – the range of variation between species is too complex to describe in general terms.”  BugGuide also notes:  “larvae feed on flowers of composite plants (family Asteraceae) and leaves of several trees – varies according to species,” and the individuals in your images appear to be feeding on a plant in the Asteraceae family.  Hooded Owlet Moth Caterpillars are among the most beautiful caterpillars we have represented on our site, and for that reason we have selected your submission as our Bug of the Month for September 2014.

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Subject: Caterpillars on water lilies
Location: Fullerton, CA
August 12, 2014 12:53 pm
Hello!
For the second year now we have caterpillars in our water lilies. We have a small backyard pond with goldfish and these guys much away at the Lily pads, nothing else. As you can see from the pictures, they come in black and brown. Do caterpillars sunburn? They get almost as large as a monarch caterpillar and have appeared in late summer both years.
Thank you much!
Signature: Southland BugLovers

Yellow Striped Armyworm

Yellow Striped Armyworm

Dear Southland BugLovers,
We quickly located an image on BugGuide that matches your darker caterpillar and it is identified as a Yellow Striped Armyworm, , and it is feeding on water lilies in San Diego.  Other images on BugGuide indicate that this caterpillar is highly variable, hence your lighter caterpillar as is the diet, which is described on BugGuide thus:  “Larvae feed on many herbaceous plants, including alfalfa, asparagus, bean, beet, cabbage, clover, corn, cotton, cucumber, grape, grass, jimsonweed, morning glory, onion, pea, peach, peanut, pokeweed, sweet potato, tobacco, tomato, turnip, wheat, watermelon, and wild onion.”

Yellow Striped Armyworm

Yellow Striped Armyworm

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination