What’s THIS Bug
Hi Bug Experts,
I work for a nature center just south of Durango Colorado, in pinyon-juniper habitat and river bottom. We sit at about 6,100 ft in elevation. It’s pretty dry if you are not right in the river bottom. This caterpillar, photo attached, was EVERYWHERE this spring from about mid April to mid May. We would literally go on nature walks with kids and have them keep track of how many they saw. The numbers were often between 30-50 in a short walk. The caterpillar, on close observation, was eating the yellow clover growing at the nature center (legume specialist?) in and around the sage (not right in the river bottom). Full size caterpillars were about 1 3/4 to 2 inches long. No distinguishing marks other than black with yellow spines. We don’t have a field guide detailed enough to figure it out (Insects of North America is way to broad, and butterfly web sites don’t have enough pic’s of caterpillars). Any ideas?
Lead Naturalist/Community Resources Coordinator
Durango Nature Studies
The spring caterpillar is the tiger moth, Lophocampa ingens. This is one of the few caterpillars that can remain active throughout the winter, feeding on pinyon (sometimes other pines) when days are warm enough. They usually make conspicuous webs in the pines. Can’t say about the other caterpillar. Beats me. Probably something in the subfamily Arctiidae, based on its hairiness. However, it may be a Sonoran tent caterpillar, if it is feeding on oak.
Hi Jennifer and Whitney,
It seems Jennifer wrote to us both and Whitney got the answer first. We will still be posting your letter and identification. Your second photo is rather blurry and not easily identifiable.