Unidentified caterpillar from West Palm Beach, Florida
I hope you can help me identify this caterpillar. I was hiking through a Florida scrub natural area in Boca Raton and came across hundreds (maybe thousands) of these guys tearing into the local scrub oak trees. They really liked the new growth! They were only found on the oaks – so they are very specific. They also sting! What are they?
Palm Beach County
Dept. of Environmental Resources Management
This is a Buck Moth Caterpillar. Visually, it matches the New England Buck Moth Caterpillar, Hemileuca lucina, that we found on BugGuide. Oak is the food plant. The map we found does not list the range as far south as Florida. A related species, the Eastern Buck Moth, Hemileuca maia, is found in Florida, but the caterpillar looks different than your specimen. It also feeds on Oak. At any rate, we are sure of the genus and the fact that it is a Buck Moth.