What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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

Underwing Caterpillar

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.

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

19 Responses to Underwing Caterpillar

  1. Patricia says:

    I found one on one of my banana trees this morning!

    Dunnellon, FL

  2. Ashton says:

    My 2yr old son and 4 yr old daugther found one this morning and it scared me idk if they bite so I just moved it to my front yard

  3. Coolkid says:

    Just found one and keeping it

  4. Susan says:

    Found one at Jones Gap State park

  5. betty says:

    My boys just brought me one I live in Missouri

  6. Aris says:

    Just found one in the backyard in northern Virginia. Have never encountered one before. Definitely had me stumped. Thank goodness for the internet!

  7. Linda Meyerding says:

    One fell out of an oak tree in my yard in Southern Oregon. Are they a problem?

  8. Caterpy says:

    I found a bit one lying against the trunk of my baby avocado tree which has been potted indoors all its life. I have other plants nearby including a small lemon tree in a big planter that was outside in the summer. Could it have been living in the soil of the lemon tree? I’m puzzled about what this caterpillar’s been eating– there are no bitten leaves on any of my plants yet he was quite plump. Furthermore, he must have been living there for quite a while since I live in Toronto and it’s currently the dead of winter.

    • bugman says:

      Plants taken outside for the summer frequently transport insects indoors when the plants are brought back indoors as the weather cools.

  9. Jason Jennifer and Liam Lehnert says:

    I think we found one.
    We live in Rosharon TX

  10. Lake Seminole Ga. says:

    Early June…found attached to the screen on my screen porch.

  11. Andrea Vermette says:

    My kids found one on a birch tree in pine falls, manitoba Canada. Thanks for the info.

  12. Michael Allen says:

    I found one on a tree in,
    Bloomington, Illinois. 😸🐾

  13. Priscilla WHITT says:

    We found one on the ground flopping itself around like mad. I googled it and came to this website. It’s mid-April in north Georgia. When do they usually pupate?

    • bugman says:

      We are uncertain when Underwing caterpillars pupate, but we imagine the exact time differs with location and species.

  14. Lionor says:

    Found one today in Northern California!

  15. Tonya says:

    Found one in my shed camouflage quite nicely with the concrete. Slid it on to a piece of paper and it’s been sitting on there for day now but if we touch him he does move so he is still alive. Going to see if I can find what he eats.

  16. emil fiore says:

    I found one on a tree in Palisades Interstate Park in Alpine , NJ July26th 2019

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