Currently viewing the category: "Woolly Bears"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Mystery caterpillar
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
April 6, 2014 8:54 pm
My friend found this fuzzy black caterpillar, took it inside and it formed a cocoon! I’m sorry but I can only show a picture of the cocoon, no caterpillar. What is it, a moth or butterfly? Thanks!
Signature: Tam

Possibly Arctiid Cocoon

Possibly Arctiid Cocoon

Dear Tam,
What we can tell you for certain is that this Cocoon will produce a moth, not a butterfly.  We suspect by your description of the caterpillar and by the appearance of this cocoon, that it might be a Tiger Moth in the subfamily Arctiinae, and the caterpillars of Tiger Moths are frequently called Woolly Bears.  We decided to research the possibilities for a species identification and we found the Moths of Alaska website which contains a photo of the Wood Tiger Moth,
Parasemia plantaginis, but no photo of the caterpillar, though it is noted that “They overwinter in the larval form.”  That would explain your finding the caterpillar in April.  The Wood Tiger Moth is found “throughout northern Europe, northern Asia, and western regions of North America” according to Moths of Alaska.   We did locate a photo of the caterpillar on the Habitas site.  We are not certain the Wood Tiger Moth will emerge from this cocoon, but that is a distinct possibility.  Please get back to us when the moth ecloses, and provide a photo if you are able.  We don’t get many identification requests from Alaska, so we like to give them extra attention when the opportunity presents itself.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Larvae like things on ceiling (Pasadena, CA)
Location: Pasadena, CA
March 23, 2014 2:42 pm
Today we discovered a speck on the ceiling that looks like dirt. Upon closer inspection, they looked like some kind of larvae. Seem to be little sprinkle-like things that are about a mm or two long, and seem to have a blacker dot on end. It’s in a rental apartment, we recently had the place gelled and sprayed for cockroaches, we’ve seen one around. I found a dead moth on the ground the other day, somewhat close to the area. It’s just turning spring here. They don’t move much, I just see some twitching and some hanging down a little bit. I wanted to ask and see if there was anything you knew, and if I should just vacuum them up, or if there’s something more intensive that needs to be done. Thanks in advance!
Signature: Mike

Newly Hatched Woolly Bears, we believe

Newly Hatched Woolly Bears, we believe

Dear Mike,
We believe these are newly hatched Woolly Bears, the caterpillars of a Tiger Moth, possibly the Painted Tiger Moth,
Arachnis picta, which flies in Southern California in the winter.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: White Caterpillar NO black spots
Location: Lake Jordan, North Carolina – mid- October
October 20, 2013 2:33 pm
Hi Bugman,
My husband and I were hiking around Jordan Lake near Raleigh, North Carolina this fine mid-October afternoon and this little guy hitched a ride on his jeans. I’ve been trying to identify him but I cannot find a picture online that doesn’t have black spots and does have black feathery things! He didn’t have black spots on his back so I don’t think he’s a Hickory Tussock, but we’d love to know what he is (and if we’re going to break out in a rash!)!
Thanks!
Signature: Bree – North Carolina

Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Hi Bree,
We believe this is a Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar,
Halysidota tessellaris, which we initially identified on the Field Biology in Southeastern Ohio website, and we then confirmed with this matching photo on BugGuide.  Also known as the Pale Tussock Moth or Pale Tiger Moth, this species does have considerably variation in the coloration of the caterpillar, according to BugGuide.

Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Woolly Bear Caterpillar
Location: Corvallis, OR
October 14, 2013 5:29 pm
Dear Bugman-
My three year old daughter and I have found two of these caterpillars. I believe that they are Isabella Tiger moth woolly bears. We have been feeding them plantain and dandylion greens and are concerned that we might not be providing the correct diet. They are eating the plantain leaves. I read that they eat Alder leaves- though there are no such trees in the immediate location in which we have found caterpillars. Do you have any suggestions? They will be over wintering on our patio in a screen topped jar.
Signature: Gwen’s Mommy

Banded Woolly Bear

Banded Woolly Bear

Dear Gwen’s Mommy,
You have correctly identified this Banded Woolly Bear as the caterpillar of the Isabella Tiger Moth.  It sounds like you are providing the correct habitat for them.  If they are eating plantain, you should be fine.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae eats many plants and trees including grasses, asters, birches, clover, corn, elms, maples and sunflowers.”  They will most likely pupate soon.

Thank you!  We are looking forward to observing the process!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Mt. Washington caterpillar
Location: Mt. Washington, Los Angeles
September 13, 2013 4:26 pm
Hello again, Bugman. Shortly after Moth Night at Elyria Canyon, I dropped you a note asking about this caterpillar that I had found in my Mt. Washington back yard. I think you were on vacation at the time and it may have slipped through the cracks or got lost in the ether, so I’m re-sending it. Or, maybe it’s just impossible to identify and I’ll have to wait until it decides to spin a cocoon and hatch.
As I mentioned, there were 6-8 of these that would come out every night to feed (on a certain kind of plant that I can’t identify!). I noticed one last year, too, so they seem to like the area. I haven’t seen them since shortly after collecting this guy, who now lives in a terrarium in our living room. I’ve checked caterpillar for some of the common moths and butterflies we have around here, with no success. I thought (hoped) it might be a Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar, but it doesn’t seem to have they red bands associated with that species. Then again, maybe they’re just hard to see, and I’ll get lucky when it decides to pupate.
Thanks for the help!
Signature: Jonathan V

Painted Arachnis Caterpillar

Possibly Painted Arachnis Caterpillar

Dear Jonathan,
It is great to hear from you.  As you surmised, we were away for 2 1/2 weeks, and much of the mail we received during that time has gone unanswered.  This is one of the Woolly Bear Caterpillars in the subfamily Arctiinae and we believe it is most likely the caterpillar of a Painted Arachnis,
Arachnis picta, a common species in Mount Washington.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae are generalists of low herbacious plants” so they feed on a wide variety of plants, including many weed species.  The adult Painted Arachnis are attracted to our Mount Washington porch light each winter.  We will double check with Arctiid expert Julian Donahue to see if he agrees with our ID.

Julian Donahue offers his perspective and advice on raising to the adult
It’s either Arachnis picta or Spilosoma vestalis–I never succeeded in figuring out how to distinguish them. I began some rearing experiments, but never had time to study the results.
Arachnis adults fly in the fall/early winter, while Spilosoma adults fly in the spring. So this larvae could be the former, getting ready to pupate and emerge soon, or the latter, preparing to overwinter as a larvae and emerge in the spring.
If your contributor has the time or interest, I’d suggest rearing the larva to an adult to be sure. Put it in a screened container with leaf litter, in a shady protected spot outdoors (so it will be exposed to normal light and temperature), and if it’s hungry, offer it dandelions (Taraxacum) or lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium), or cheeseweed (Malva)–larvae of both moths are general feeders, not too picky about what they eat.
Julian

Many thanks, Daniel. I will certainly try to rear it, per the advice below. I may need to find a new container, as I’m not sure the large glass bowl that I have it in now would do well outside. I also worry about the heat, but I guess that’s part of the natural cycle it needs to know when it’s time to pupate. It hasn’t been hungry in some time, seems to have stopped eating a while ago. I will keep you posted and let you know if anything (or what) emerges. I’m leaning toward the Arachnis, since I think I’ve seen those around our property before, but never knew what they were. Thanks, again.

Update:  October 3, 2013
Subject: Mt. Washington large black caterpillar – pupating?
Location: Mt. Washington, Los Angeles
October 3, 2013 1:32 pm
Hi there! I wanted to give you a quick update about the large black caterpillar that we talked about a few weeks ago. I noticed that it was moving from one spot to another, and today when I picked up the last leaf that I saw it under, I noticed that it has spun some silk. I think it may be getting ready to pupate, but I don’t want to disturb it any more than I have to. I think I will wait a few days now before checking on it again.
Julian Donahue suggested that it might be either Arachnis picta or Spilosoma vestalis, and now I’m leaning toward the former. A week ago, I noticed that something had laid a large number of miniscule eggs on one of our curtains. I carefully scraped them off and put them in a jar to see what would come out. And they looked pretty close (both the eggs and the larvae) to what I see on this page about rearing the Painted Tiger Moth. I don’t think I fed them correctly, though, and many seem to have died. I’ve since put them out in the yard, hoping a few of them make it.
This page on rearing them (http://www.insectnet.com/photos/tech2/photos_tech2.htm#evans) also notes that some of them spin silk before pupating, and has a picture that looks pretty similar to mine. I’m including a couple of pictures of the new ones that I found as well, although they’re about 2 mm across and it was hard to get a good clear image. More to come, I will keep you posted.
Jonathan
Signature: Jonathan V

Woolly Bear Cocooning

Woolly Bear Cocooning

Hi again Jonathan,
We get numerous Painted Arachnis Moths attracted to our porch light each winter.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: caterpillar on allamanda vine
Location: Amberbris Caye, Belize Central America
September 15, 2013 4:05 pm
We seem to have an bunch of these caterpillars munching on our allamanda vine, they are eating the leaves and the yellow blooms. They are just a tad longer than an inch in length. Can you ID them please? Thank you!
Signature: Tamara Sniffin

Oleander Caterpillar

Oleander Caterpillar

Dear Tamara,
This is an Oleander Caterpillar,
Syntomeida epilais, and it will eventually metamorphose into a Polka-Dot Wasp Moth.  We were not familar with the Allamanda Vine, but research on the Seminole County Florida Leisure Services website indicates it is commonly called the Buttercup Flower and that it is in the Dogbane family with Oleander, indicating it most likely has milky sap.

Oleander Caterpillars

Oleander Caterpillars

Yes it certainly does have a milky sap. Thank you VERY much for your response. Regards, Tamara

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination