Caterpillar of Ctenucha multifaria?
June 6, 2010
I collected this caterpillar on a driveway beside a grassy field on June 1. I’m wondering if it might be the larva of Ctenucha multifaria, an extremely colorful day-flying moth. The moth is quite uncommon, so no on-line photos of the larva of that species are available. The caterpillar in the photo is about 10mm long.
Occidental, Sonoma Co., California
We were pretty certain that despite no images of Ctenucha multifaria being available, that your hypothesis was incorrect. We looked at images on BugGuide of the Virginia Ctenucha, and they seem quite different. We would favor this being one of the Buck Moths in the genus Hemileuca, and there are many that inhabit meadows in California. Though the coloration is different, you can see the similarities with the caterpillar of the Elegant Sheep Moth, Hemileuca eglanterina, which is posted to BugGuide. It looks even more like the caterpillar of Nuttall’s sheepmoth, Hemileuca nuttalli, also posted to BugGuide.