Currently viewing the category: "Snout Moth Caterpillars"
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Subject: Catapillar invasion

Location: Pacifica CA
October 26, 2014 2:42 pm
I have been invaded by hundreds of these catapillars around the outside of my house … Can you please give me some info on these critters – thanks !
Signature: Gina

Genista Broom Caterpillar

Sophora Worm

Hi Gina,
Your caterpillar is known as a Sophora Worm, the larval form of the Genista Broom Moth,
Uresiphita reversalis, and you can verify our identification by viewing this matching image on BugGuideAccording to Bugguide:  “‘Sophora Worm’ is reference to the native host genus: Sophora.  ‘Genista Broom Moth’ is an odd common name for a native North American moth as Genista (common name of ‘broom’) is an Old World genus, family Fabaceae.”  BugGuide also notes:  “Larvae feed on Acacia, Baptisia, Genista, Lupinus, Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) and other pea family shrubs. Also reported on Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) and honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.)” so we are speculating that one of those plants might be growing in your yard.

MaryBeth Kelly, Amy Gosch liked this post
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Subject:  Caterpillars defoliate Golden Chain Tree
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Saturday, June 28, 2014 2:33 PM
Several years ago, Mom gave us some tiny seedlings from the Golden Chain Tree,
Laburnum anagyroides, that she has growing in her yard in Ohio.  See GoBotany for images of the Golden Chain Tree.  Well, for many years they have languished, growing very slowly.  Earlier in the week, we noticed brown leaves on the largest one, now grown to about four feet in height.  Caterpillars were feeding on the leaves, skeletonizing them, and spinning loose webs.  We suspect this is some caterpillar in the Ermine Moth superfamily Yponomeutidae, and we thought we might be getting close when we discovered this BugGuide posting of the Laburnum Leaf Miner Moth, Leucoptera laburnella, however our caterpillars seem too big to be Leaf Miners.

What's Eating the Golden Chain Tree???

What’s Eating the Golden Chain Tree???

Some similar looking caterpillars include these Ailanthus Webworm Caterpillars on BugGuide and these Ermine Moth Caterpillars from BugGuide.

Ermine Moth Caterpillars perhaps???

Genista Broom Moth Caterpillars

BINGO!!!  The Scenic Hills Nursery has an image of the Genista Caterpillar, Uresiphita (=Tholeria) reversalis, and according to the site, they are:  “A web producing caterpillar that attacks Texas laurel, crape myrtle, honeysuckle, and Laburnum. Larvae defoliate as well as spin webs.”  Now we realized why it looked so familiar.  We have images of the Genista Broom Moth Caterpillar in our archives and BugGuide has a substantial page devoted to it.

Caterpillars on Golden Chain Tree

Genista Broom Moth Caterpillars on Golden Chain Tree

The Genista Broom Moth Caterpillar is also called the Sophora Worm.

Write if you have an idea what these are.

Genista Broom Moth Caterpillars



What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: caterpillar
Location: Bay area
January 8, 2013 1:12 pm
hi buggy
Tons of caterpillars on a flowering bush in Bay area. Has formed nests or webs. thanks for your help I donated $10.00 on paypal.
Signature: Tom

Sophora Worm

Hi Tom,
Thank you for your generous donation.  We don’t like to think that we devote additional time to the identifying submissions if someone has donated to the site, and generally we don’t even know that they have donated.  In light of your extremely generous donation, we have been obsessed with trying to identify your caterpillar.  We are happy you mentioned that the caterpillars formed webs, as that was very helpful.  Knowing the plant upon which the caterpillar or other insect is feeding is usually a tremendous advantage when it comes to identification.  Though we recognized this caterpillar as something we had somewhere in our archives, with nearly 16,000 posts, it is sometimes very difficult for us to find old postings when we cannot remember the name.  We found a match to your caterpillar on the Yard and Garden News of the University of Minnesota Extension website and it was identified as a Genista Broom Moth caterpillar,
Uresiphita reversalis.  The site states:  “An interesting caterpillar has been found apparently for the first time in Minnesota in several areas of the state. A genista broom moth caterpillar, Uresiphita reversalis, is about one inch long when fully grown. It’s a pretty insect with a black head with white markings and a slender yellowish green or mustard colored body. There is a series of black and white colored tubercles (raised spots) running down its body with white hairs coming out of them.  When gardeners have discovered this insect in Minnesota, it has been feeding on false indigo, Baptisia. According to BugGuide this caterpillar has also been reported to feed on “Acacia, Genista, Lupinus, Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) and other pea family shrubs as well as Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) and honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.).”  According to BugGuide, the caterpillar is called a Sophora Worm and this excellent explanation of the common names is provided:  “‘Sophora Worm’ is reference to the native host genus: Sophora.  ‘Genista Broom Moth’ is an odd common name for a native North American moth as Genista (common name of “broom”) is an Old World genus, family Fabaceae.   Numerous species of broom have been introduced into North America, some of which have become noxious invasives such as common broom (Cytisus scoparius), French broom (Genista monspessulana) and Spanish broom (Spartium junceum).”  Once we had the name and family, it was easy enough to locate our own 2005 archival image of a Genista Broom Moth Caterpillar.

hi Daniel
Thank you so much. I think you are too humble! $5 (what the default was for Paypal) is very inexpensive for the service! Don’t sell yourself short. I think there might be a little business in there if you develop the website with a simple drop down menu questionnaire e.g. tents, no tents, geographic area, etc , include picture and ask for $5.
Thanks so much again.
Tom Barnett

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beautiful caterpillars destroying my collards
Location: Washington, DC
September 4, 2011 5:38 pm
I love your site! I found these beauties chowing down on my collard plants in early September in Washington, DC, and I have yet to identify them. They’re about an inch long and didn’t appear hairy until I expanded the photos. They have a black and white pattern on top, bordered by yellow which then turns to green on the bottom. Reddish-brown head. Maybe a type of skipper?
Signature: Rachel

Cross Striped Cabbageworms

Hi Rachel,
We have been trying all manner of web searching options to try to identify your caterpillars, which looked vaguely familiar to us, but we could not recall their identity.  Finally an image search of “collard eating caterpillar” turned up (numerous pages into the search) an image that matched your photo.  It is on the BellaOnLine forum under “What is Eating my Brussels Sprouts?”, and it was identified as the Cross Striped Cabbageworm,
Evergestis rimosalis, by Lisa Shea.  We double checked that on BugGuide and learned that the identification was correct and we have now created a new caterpillar sub-sub-category of Snout Moth Caterpillars to house this posting.  Since this caterpillar looked familiar to us, we suspect we may have an unidentified posting somewhere in our archive.

Wow – thanks so much! It’s interesting that such a beautiful caterpiller grows up to be a rather plain moth.

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Genista Caterpillar
I found your website checking on the Genista caterpillar. I’ve attached two pictures of them on the Lupinus diffusus in Polk County, Florida. I had sent the pictures to an Entomology Dept. at University of Florida for an ID. I read with interest your posting of the caterpillar on another plant.
Paul Eisenbrown

Hi Paul,
Thanks for sending the photos. Genista Caterpillars are not very common online.

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hairy green caterpillars on sophora tomentosa
These hairy green caterpillars were on a necklace-pod plant (sophora tomentosa) in Vero Beach, FL which is mid-way up the Atlantic coast of Florida (at the northern limit of the tropical zone). The cats are about 1 1/2 inches long. Since the photo was taken one of them has pupated in a cocoon on the underside of a necklace-pod leaf. Your ID help is really appreciated. I can’t find any references which show necklace-pod as a host plant for any butterflies or moths and haven’t been able to find a match to the caterpillar on the internet.
Keep up the good work and thanks for your help!
Kathleen Scott

Ed. Note: Before we could identify Kathleen’s caterpillars, she wrote back with the following information.

Thank you so much! Unfortunately I didn’t collect the pupa. It is no longer on the plant and I didn’t find any others (of course the cats might have crawled off to pupate in other places). I continued to search the internet and finally got an identification. I’m sorry to be late in telling you. When I went back to your site to let you know there was an odd error message about the site being offline because it had exceeded its allowed number of hits. It slipped my mind to try again later, I apologise. You offer a great assistance to the public and are a wonderful resource.
The caterpillar is a Genista Caterpillar, Uresiphita (=Tholeria) reversalis (Guenee) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). The references I found for it were about Arizona, Texas and the Pacific Northwest. In Texas it feeds on mountain laurel, crape myrtle, honeysuckle & laburnum. Other references said that it’s one of the few predators of Scotch Broom, an invasive exotic (legume family) in the Pacific Northwest. Apparently the caterpillar absorbs alkaloids from its host plants & is then unpalatable to predators. The following site states that the caterpillar is in the web-worm family and destructive to trees in Texas. I was very puzzled that I couldn’t find any data relating to the caterpillar as a pest for necklace pod. The moth must be uncommon to Florida. I don’t know how it would have gotten here but maybe there is Necklace pod is also in the legume family so that may be the connection. Necklace pod seeds contain an alkaloid that’s poisonous so maybe the leaves have some too. There appear to be few natural predators (I think the wolf spider is one) for this caterpillar due to the alkaloid absorption. Thank you for your searching and your thoughtfulness in sending the update. Warmly,
Kathleen Scott

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination