Currently viewing the category: "Prominent Moth Caterpillars"
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Subject: cluster of caterpillers on sweet gum
Location: Brown County, Indiana
September 12, 2012 12:06 pm
Found this group of bugs I had never noticed before on a sweet gum tree in our yard in Southern Indiana.
No luck identifying them …
Signature: Crindi

Red Humped Caterpillars

Hi Crindi,
We know that we have identified these caterpillars in the past, but we had a brain freeze.  We also know how difficult it can be to try to identify caterpillars, and we didn’t want to spend hours in an identification pursuit, so we tried a web search of “caterpillars sweet gum” which quickly led us to the Forestry Images photograph of the Red Humped Caterpillars,
Schizura concinna.  Knowing the plant upon which a caterpillar or other insect is feeding is often a tremendous assistance during the identification process.  We have several photos of Red Humped Caterpillars on our site which is why they seemed so familiar to us.

I have used your site a couple times now and have made a donation for your expenses.
Chris Gustin

Thanks for your support.

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Subject: Gulf Fritillary Caterpillars?
Location: Baker, Florida
September 7, 2012 10:00 am
My 6 year old daughter, Ocean Rose, had this very special find in our backyard on September 2, 2012. I’m thinking they may be Gulf Fritillary Caterpillars (because we have alot of those butterflies around here) but wasnt quite sure.
Signature: Heather

Prominent Caterpillars: Datana species

Dear Heather,
Gulf Fritillary Caterpillars only feed on Passionflower vines.  These are Prominent Moth Caterpillars in the genus
Datana, but the different species in the genus have similar looking caterpillars and there is also much variability within each species with regard to markings and coloration.  The posture they assume, with both head and tail end arched above the middle is typical of Datana caterpillars when they are disturbed.  If we knew what plant they were feeding upon, we might be able to determine the species.  See BugGuide for additional information on the genus Datana.

Datana species Caterpillars

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Subject: Pretty but voracious
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
July 28, 2012 2:18 pm
One day I suddenly found my smokebush covered with these caterpillars, which were stripping the leaves in short order. When alarmed they raised their heads and rears and froze. They were 1.75” long. Can you tell me what they are?
Signature: Marilyn

A second attempt
August 1, 2012
I later found the same caterpillars on a sumac, if that helps you with ID.  Thank you

Prominent Caterpillar: Datana perspicua

Hi Marilyn,
We apologize for not responding to your original email.  We are totally swamped with identification requests at this time of year and our small staff cannot handle every identification request.  This is a Prominent Caterpillar in the genus Datana, and the behavior you describe of raising their heads and rear ends is typical of this genus.  We believe we have correctly identified your species as Datana perspicua thanks to this image on BugGuide which shows a group of caterpillars feeding on Sumac.  Thank you for your patience.

Prominent Caterpillar: Datana perspicua

Daniel, thank you for the confirmation of my caterpillar ID. I was conflicted when I cross referenced other images of this species on the Bug Guide. Some images showed images of Datana perspicua being black and yellow and labeled as final or penultimate instar. Other images with the coloration my caterpillar were labeled as 25mm, mid-instar. Mine was twice that size and I have several in a jar that have burrowed into the dirt to pupate, so they were the final instar. That conflicts with labels of the black and yellow caterpillars. Could those have been mis-labeled or mis-identified? Considering the time of year, are my pupating caterpillars likely to emerge this year for a second brood? Any guess on how long they will pupate if they do emerge this year? It will be good to have the adults to submit with the caterpillars when I submit any photos.
Thanks so much for your time, I realize you are overwhelmed at this time of year. I have now registered with the site and will contribute some $ to it, because it is AWESOME! Thanks again.

Hi again Marilyn,
Thanks for the donation.  Wow, where to begin with your questions.  We are going to take license and just speculate without researching for now.  Actually, reheated homemade ravioli sounds like just the thing needed before we begin. …

…  We have an opinion on the coloration discrepancy you describe.  We believe these Datana perspicua have a documented color match on BugGuide.  We believe the species is most likely variable in coloration between races and perhaps within the same brood as well, though we cannot recall having ever seen a photograph where a single Datana individual was differently colored than its siblings.  We also believe that caterpillars that bury themselves to pupate often have longer periods of dormancy and most likely more climate specific eclosion requirements.  We do not believe this Datana Caterpillar has multiple generations per year so we would expect a winter pupation, but we may be wrong.  The homemade spinach and ricotta ravioli in garden fresh pesto was yummy.


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caterpillar in a miami park
Location: southwest of Miami, FL
April 5, 2012 12:13 pm
Dear bugman:
Greetings from Miami. I recently photographed this caterpillar in a Miami preserve. I am a naturalist and am familiar with common caterpillars but this one was new to me. Can you provide an ID? Many thanks!!!
Signature: Jennifer in Miami

Prominent Caterpillar

Hi Jennifer,
Your caterpillar is one of the Prominent Moth Caterpillars in the genus
Heterocampa.  We cannot be certain for sure, though BugGuide has photos to help to distinguish the various species.  We would guess that your individual might be a Wavy Lined Heterocampa, Heterocampa biundata, based on this photo posted to BugGuide.

Dear Daniel:
Thank you so much!!  AFter googling around a bit, it seems like Heterocampa are fairly variable and difficult to ID.  I never would have gotten it.  Thank you for your time.
Jennifer P

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weird one
Location: Baguio City, Philippines, Southeast Asia
October 12, 2011 1:33 am
Hi bugman. I live in the Philippines and I have encountered this alien-like insect with its upper body being an ant and the lower end is a caterpillar’s. It’s less than an inch long and I got it from a guava tree. Could you please identify this one?
Signature: Reply details through e-mail.

Lobster Caterpillar

The very distinctive Lobster Caterpillar, Stauropus fagi, is a morphologically unusual caterpillar that doesn’t resemble any other members of the Prominent Moth family.  The species ranges across Eurasia from England to China.  This is a young instar that will molt several times, growing after each molt, until it eventually pupates and emerges as an adult moth.

Lobster Caterpillar

Wow. Thanks a lot for the info, sir… I appreciate it.


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4 ’Red Headed’ caterpillars grouped together
Location: Raleigh, NC
September 21, 2011 11:47 am
Hi Bugman,
I found out about you from a guy I work with. And thought that’s so cool!
The other day I saw that one of my azalea bushes was looking a little decrepit. Upon further examination, I saw on a couple of branches, 3-4 caterpillars clumped together on each separate branch. Each caterpillar is 2-3 inches long at least a 1/4 inch in diameter. Mostly black, with sort of yellow stripes and red heads (or tails?)
Signature: Carolyn

Azalea Caterpillars

Hi Carolyn,
Thanks for supplying the information that azalea is the food plant.  Knowing the food plant for a caterpillar makes identification so much easier, though in the case of these Azalea Caterpillars,
Datana major, we have identified them enough times in the past to know what they were immediately.  You can also view the BugGuide information page to learn more about this species that feeds in groups and often strikes a dramatic pose when it feels threatened. 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination