What kind of caterpillar?
Location: Summerville, South Carolina. Found him on the tree in the picture
April 5, 2011 5:12 pm
I was outside on the phone when I saw this guy on the tree. He blended in so perfectly I actually thought it was a little niche in the tree at first. After I got off the phone I picked up a stick and scooted him (her?) onto it. It has a purple with black horizontal lines on it’s underbelly.
I would like to know what kind of bug it is, please.
Signature: Caterpillar Fangirl
Dear Caterpillar Fangirl,
We believe this is an Underwing Caterpillar in the genus Catocala. That was our suspicion even before we considered your description of the purple and black striped underbelly which must resemble this image of an Underwing Caterpillar on BugGuide. Your photo nicely illustrates the camouflage ability of the caterpillar, but the adult moths are even more masterful at hiding. The upper wings of the adult moths in the genus Catocala are often colored like tree bark while the underwings are brightly colored. When flying, the Underwing Moth attracts attention, but it blends with its environment when it comes to rest. The hunter might still be searching for the bright red flying insect, but it is thwarted since the underwings are hidden when the moth is at rest.