Currently viewing the category: "Cutworms and Owlet Caterpillars"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Caterpillar?
Location: Upstate New York
May 26, 2016 5:44 am
We found this under a tree. He is about 2 inches long. His underbelly is green with black spots. There are 2 black ‘spikes’ near his rear end. It is almost June here in Albany, NY.
Signature: Abbie Donnelly

Underwing Caterpillar

Underwing Caterpillar

Dear Abbie,
We believe based on your image and descriptions that this is one of the Underwing Caterpillars in the genus
Catocala, but we are unable to provide you with an exact species.  You may browse through BugGuide to see some similar looking Caterpillars.  Here is a BugGuide image showing a green underside with black spots.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Surprise Tenant Larva
Location: Coryell County, TX
April 19, 2016 9:22 pm
Hello, hope you are both well.
I discovered this larva living inside one of the blooming apple-blossom amaryllis plants. Its abdomen end looks remarkably like a snake’s face to me, and its body also resembles a bird dropping when curled. It curled up when I moved it gently to the petals, and when moved back it resumed its head-down, posterior snake-face-showing stance. It has gold iridescent spots along lateral (subdorsal?) lines.
As you can see, it’s eating itself out of house and home. 😀
I tried to match it to known moths and butterflies in our county, but had no luck.
Lots of rain this week, upper 60’s and cloudy.
Thank you!
Signature: Ellen

Cutworm

Cutworm

Hi Ellen,
We believe this is a Cutworm, the caterpillar of an Owlet Moth in the family Noctuidae.  We have a difficult time distinguishing different species as so many caterpillars in this large family look so similar.  You can try browsing BugGuide to see if you find any likely candidates.  Many species are not terribly particular about what plants they feed upon, which complicates identification.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Unidentified Hairy Caterpillar
Location: Houston, TX
April 8, 2016 5:53 pm
4/08/16 – We have just found several of these caterpillars on our Mustang Grape plant. We live in Houston, TX. We have tried to look up the caterpillar in two separate reference books: Caterpillars in the Field and Garden (Thomas J. Allen, Jim P Brock, Jeffrey Glassberg) as well as Peterson First Guides, Caterpillars (Amy Bartlett Wright), without success.
The Caterpillars are devouring the leaves on the Mustang Grape plant quite aggressively. We don’t want to kill them, we are just curious as to what they are. We have had this plant for 18-years and it has never been eaten before. The plant has never produced fruit. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated!
Signature: Colette Lassberg

Eight Spotted Forrester Caterpillar

Eight Spotted Forrester Caterpillar

Dear Colette,
This is the caterpillar of an Eight Spotted Forrester,
Alypia octomaculata, a species that according to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on leaves of grape (Vitis spp.), peppervine (Ampelopsis spp.), and Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).”  If you are concerned about the survival of the caterpillars but you want to protect your grape vine, you can purchase another food plant and relocate the caterpillars.  The adult Eight Spotted Forrester is a lovely diurnal moth.

Eight Spotted Forrester Caterpillar

Eight Spotted Forrester Caterpillar

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Unidentified Caterpillar!
Location: Southeastern Arizona
April 1, 2016 10:55 am
Dear bugman,
I found a caterpillar in the pool this morning. He was still alive when I found him, so I took him in and gave him a few leaves from our backyard. We are still unsure what kind of caterpillar he is, or what he eats! Any help?
Signature: Dawn S

Possibly Underwing Caterpillar

Possibly Underwing Caterpillar

Dear Dawn,
This might be an Underwing Caterpillar in the genus Catocala which is pictured on BugGuide, but we would not rule out any of the other groups in the superfamily Noctuiodea, which includes the Owlet Moths.  We are tagging your submission with the Bug Humanitarian Award, and unless the caterpillar was dropped into the pool by a passing bird, we feel confident it was feeding on some plant in your yard.  The plant upon which you photographed it looks like Mesquite, which is pictured on the National Park Service site, which leads us to believe it is a plant close to your pool.  Try offering other leaves from your yard, and if it starts eating, you can place the caterpillar on that plant.  Any additional information like size may help us to narrow down an identification.  We also wondered if this might be a Black Witch Caterpillar, and according to Texas Butterfly Ranch:  “Black Witch Moth caterpillars eat legumes, and favor acacia and mesquite. ”

Update: The caterpillar created a cocoon out of silk. A few weeks later, he hatched into a common , brown moth. (about 1 inch long.) I released him and watched him fly away.

Thanks for the Update.  That was neither a Black Witch or an Underwing Moth, but our general ID from the superfamily Noctuiodea is still most likely correct.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Caterpillar
Location: South Texas
March 28, 2016 5:58 pm
I live in south Texas. We lots of large oak trees. Found these caterpillars under the dead leaves on the ground. What kind of caterpillar is it? And should I be worried
Signature: Luckylisa

Underwing Caterpillar

Underwing Caterpillar

Dear Luckylisa,
There is no cause for concern regarding this awesome Underwing Caterpillar from the genus
Catocala, probably the Ilia Underwing, Catocala ilia.  It is believe that the Ilia Underwing Caterpillar mimics lichens for camouflage.  You can compare your individual to this posting from BugGuide.

Underwing Caterpillar

Underwing Caterpillar

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Mantis vs Caterpillar?
Location: Coryell County, Texas
October 13, 2015 7:37 am
Hello again, hope you are both well!
This smallish mantis (another male Carolina mantis, perhaps?) was hanging upside down from an Autumn Sage bush (Salvia greggii). At first I thought it was holding a flower, then realized it was eating prey. He made short work of it, too, with many quick, small bites.
I think it is a pink bird-dropping caterpillar, quite small, but had a lot of trouble getting a good photo due to the wind, dim lighting, an uncooperative flash, and my own lack of finesse. Please tell me that this wasn’t a Giant Swallowtail caterpillar. I can’t find any references to any butterflies using Autumn Sage as a host plant, although many pollinators and hummingbirds love the flowers.
Very warm, upper 90’s, around 5 PM, shaded corner of the garden.
Thank you so much and best wishes!
Signature: Ellen

Male California Mantis eating what might be a Tobacco Budworm

Male Carolina Mantis eating what might be a Tobacco Budworm

Dear Ellen,
We agree that this is most likely a male Carolina Mantis, and upon searching our own archives for a pink caterpillar on sage, we located this posting of what might be a Tobacco Budworm eating Russian sage.  There is a BugGuide posting that indicates the caterpillars have been found on sage and BugGuide also notes:  “Caterpillars vary greatly in color. They seem to take on the color of the flower they are eating – green, pink red or maroon forms are described. Consistent features include small dotlike black ‘microspines’ giving the body a rough texture. Later instars typically have a brown head capsule and stripes along the body including a broad pale subspiracular stripe.”  Our original posting especially resembles your caterpillar.

Male Carolina Mantis eats Caterpillar

Male Carolina Mantis eats Caterpillar

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination