What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Identifying This Caterpillar
Location:  Orlando Florida
August 27, 2010 10:18 pm
Hey Bugman,
I’m a new butterfly student. I’m becoming familiar with many types of caterpillars and all that, but still am struggling with this one. The identification page I use is not available and I don’t yet have the book, ”Caterpillars of Eastern North America: A Guide to Identification and Natural History (Princeton Field Guides)” that Edith suggested to me.
Can you help?
Sincere thanks and I look forward to learning more from your site in the future!

Spotted Oleander Moth Caterpillar

Hi Shay,
It sounds like you are really serious about being able to identify caterpillars.  Get in the habit of noting and identifying the plants upon which the caterpillars were feeding.  This information can be indispensable in the identification process, especially if the caterpillar feeds on the leaves of a single plant as opposed to being a general feeder.  We believe your caterpillar is a Spotted Oleander Moth Caterpillar,
Empyreuma affinis, based on photos posted to BugGuide.  If it was feeding on oleander, then we would be much more certain of the identification.

Thanks so much!!
Actually, the caterpillar was in some privacy shrubs- Viburnum.
I am very serious about it. I have a neuromuscular disease and learning about, raising, and searching for butterflies has been a true therapy. THEN, I just fell in love with it.
Waiting on my book.
Got a new camera.
And my microscope camera should be here in a week. I’ll learn about everything about it that I possibly can.  I want to do this forever. 🙂 Even if my forever ends up cut a bit shorter than was originally planned. 🙂
I thought the same- or a polka dot wasp moth, both of which rely on oleander. Odd, though, to find it where I did. I found a Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar in there as well… but he was actually eating. This didn’t help much because of the variety in their diet.
Anyway, sorry about that babble fest. Thanks so much for your help!

Hi again Shay,
Thanks for the additional information.  We did a bit more research and we located an online article published by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences that states:  “The spotted oleander caterpillar may be mistaken for the saltmarsh caterpillar, Estigmene acrea (Drury). However, the body of the saltmarsh caterpillar is densely covered with hairs whereas the spotted oleander caterpillar only has tufts of hairs on its body.
”  Your caterpillar has the tufts of hair.  The article also indicates:  “Oleander is the only recorded host plant of the spotted oleander caterpillar.”  That would mean that there must have been an oleander bush near the privacy shrubs.  Caterpillars have been known to travel a considerable distance from the plants upon which they have been feeding before finding a spot where they pupate.  We wish you the best of luck with you new passion.

September 2, 2010
Thank you so much. You are correct, and thank you for doing all the research. I myself did some as well, and after looking on the other side of the fence in the neighboring complexes yard, I found LOTS of oleander.
I appreciate your help so much.
PS- was able to witness a polymepheus lay eggs last night on oak. VERY very excited about it.
Thanks again!!!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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