Location: Edward’s Plateau, Ft. Hood, TX
June 4, 2011 1:34 am
I found this caterpillar a few weeks ago on Ashe Juniper, it blended in so well with the branch it was on, it could barely be seen.
While the top was non-descript, the underneath of the caterpillar was an odd light seafoam green with darker green spots (see picture).
I’ve found some similar looking caterpillars, but nothing that fits, nor mentions a green underside.
Any help would be appreciated!
We believe this caterpillar resembles those of the Underwing Moths in the genus Catocala. There are many similar photos on BugGuide, including this view of a Caterpillar underside that has the coloration of your specimen. We find the fact that it was feeding on Ashe Juniper interesting because BugGuide indicates: “Larvae of most species feed on foliage of deciduous trees.” Most Underwing Moths have mottled brown upper wings that blend in with the bark of trees that they rest upon, very effectively camouflaging them from predators. The underwings are often brightly colored with red and black stripes giving the genus its popular name Underwing Moths. The underwings only show when the moth is in flight. Predators will continue to search for the bright coloration when the moth comes to rest and they may fail to notice the camouflaged moth. We tried a web search of the words “catocala, juniper, Texas” and found this technical article, and somewhere buried in it you may find a species that feeds on juniper. We will be out of the office for a week in mid June, and we are preparing your request to go live on June 13.