January 18, 2010
Live caterpillars in the snow, New England.
Hi – I found about a dozen of these caterpillars – live caterpillars – on the top of the snow this morning. It was a windy stormy night, temps in the high 20’s. Most of the trees in this area are oak trees. We are in Dover, MA, about 15 miles just southeast of Boston. Can you please tell me what kind of caterpillars these are?
This looks like a Cutworm, a member of the subfamily Noctuinae. Perhaps one of our readers will have more information on what species might be found in the snow.
Comment from Karl:
It’s probably a Winter Cutworm, the common name for the caterpillar of the Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba). It’s an immigrant species from Europe that has become a pest in much of eastern North America. According to the book, Caterpillars of Eastern North America (David L. Wagner), “The caterpillars are active during thaws throughout the winter – commonly turning up on sidewalks, sauntering into garages, or crawling along banks of snow. If someone brings you a cutworm in the dead of winter – this is it.” There are some good photos and information at: http://www.pestid.msu.edu/InsectsArthropods/NoctuaPronuba/tabi/73/Default.aspx