Subject: Caterpillar found while weeding
Location: Austin, Texas
June 24, 2012 1:28 pm
I found three of these beautiful caterpillars while pulling weeds today. Unfortunately, I injured one before seeing them, but did manage to not harm the remaining two. They are eating on an unknown weed to me.
I have used your website in the past to identify many bugs, but after searching for 2 hours, I still have been unable to identify this caterpillar. I am hoping you can help me.
We believe this is a Questionmark Caterpillar, and that is an actual species identification and not a confused reply. We matched your photo to an image of a Questionmark Caterpillar, Polygonia interrogationis, that we located on BugGuide. According to BugGuide: “Caterpillars feed on nettle, false nettle, elms, hackberry, Japanese hops.” We only have one previous posting of a Questionmark Caterpillar, so it was easy to overlook while scanning our site. We do have numerous images of the adult Questionmark which gets it common name from a silver mark on the underside of the hind wings which is thought to resemble the interrogation mark.
Thank you so much! I had assumed it was a moth caterpillar since we see many more moths than butterflies here in Austin. I still cannot figure out what they are feeding on, even after looking up pictures of the plants mentioned in BugGuide. I sure hope to see more of these!
The food plant list might be incomplete.