What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Coneheaded Caterpillar
Tue, Jul 7, 2009 at 6:25 AM
Hi there! I found this little caterpillar at Newport News Park in Newport News, Virginia on July 6, 2009… He must have fallen out of a tree as I found him on my shoulder… I’ve searched and searched for an ID on the internet but to no avail – the cone-shaped head seems to be unique as the majority I’ve looked at that come close to the rest of his appearance are round headed… I posted his pic on our newspaper’s website and now have a ton of folks wondering what he is – it was one of them that pointed me your way ;o) Any help you can provided would be greatly appreciated!!
Newport News, VA

Unknown Caterpillar

Unknown Caterpillar

Dear Anna,
We have spent well over a fruitless hour trying to identify your caterpillar.  Alas, we have given up and we hope one of our readers will have better luck than we have had.  Our best guess on this is that it is a butterfly caterpillar in the family Nymphalidae, possibly the Subfamily Satyrinae which includes the Wood Nymphs and Satyrs, or perhaps the subfamily Apaturinae, the Emperors.  Our second guess would be that it is some type of Skipper in the family Hesperidae.  Sadly, these families are not really well represented on the internet with regards to caterpillars.

Unidentified Caterpillar

Sun July 12, 2009
Greetings Anna and Daniel,
While this caterpillar may resemble something in the Satyrinae or Apaturinae, it’s actually a young MOTH.  Please compare your photo to these images of larvae from those two butterfly subfamilies:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/trombamarina/218855622/ (Satyrodes sp.)
http://bugguide.net/node/view/231428 (Asterocampa celtis)
Let me send an e-mail to Dave Wagner at the University of Connecticut, who’s the leading authority on US moth caterpillars.
Best wishes,
Keith Wolfe

Update from Keith Wolfe:
Monday, July 13, 2009
Hi Anna,
According to Prof. Dave Wagner, and Ryan’s brief comment, this caterpillar will metamorphose into a Pine Sphinx moth (one of four species in the Lapara genus of the Sphingidae family).  The green and white striping is an effective camouflage apparently shared by a number of butterfly and moth larvae that feed on pine needles.
Best wishes,

Ed. Note:
We are linking to Bill Oehlke’s posting of a Northern Pine Sphinx, Lapara bombycoides.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Thank you so very much for your time, effort, and energy in searching out the identity of this little guy!!  Please also pass along my thanks to Keith Wolfe, Prof Dave Wagner, and Ryan who spent their time researching this too!  Y’all are just GREAT – I’m going to let our folks on the newspaper website know right this sec and will use the link to your page to share…
THANK YOU – THANK YOU – THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Virginia

One Response to Pine Sphinx

  1. ryan says:

    A pine sphinx in the genus Lapara

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