Subject: caterpillar identification
Location: Maine
August 22, 2012 7:40 am
I found this caterpillar walking through a parking lot and am not sure what it is. At first I thought it was a tomato hornworm, but it doesn’t have a horn. Then thought luna moth caterpillar, but am not sure if the banding pattern is right. A friend told me this was the best place to go for insect IDs, so I’d certainly appreciate the help 🙂
Signature: HJ Hamlin

Polyphemus Caterpillar

Dear HJ Hamlin,
Now is the time of year that many caterpillars have reached their maximum size and they are ready to pupate.  Many species leave the food plant and hunt for an appropriate site for metamorphosis, and in the case of large caterpillars like the Giant Silk Moths and Hornworms, this means crawling on the ground to find leaf litter or soft soil so they can burrow.  They are much easier to spot on the ground than in the trees, so we expect identification requests of caterpillars to peak through September.  This is actually a Polyphemus Moth Caterpillar and they do look similar to the caterpillar of the Luna Moth and we have confused the two in the past.  BugGuide describes the Polyphemus Caterpillar as being:  “body large, bright green, with red and silvery spots below setae, and oblique yellow lines running through spiracles on abdomen; diagonal streak of black and silver on ninth abdominal segment; head and true legs brown; base of primary setae red, subdorsal and lateral setae have silver shading below; end of prolegs with yellow ring, and tipped in black.”

Location: Maine

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