Subject: Unidentified Caterpillar!
Location: Southeastern Arizona
April 1, 2016 10:55 am
Dear bugman,
I found a caterpillar in the pool this morning. He was still alive when I found him, so I took him in and gave him a few leaves from our backyard. We are still unsure what kind of caterpillar he is, or what he eats! Any help?
Signature: Dawn S

Possibly Underwing Caterpillar

Possibly Underwing Caterpillar

Dear Dawn,
This might be an Underwing Caterpillar in the genus Catocala which is pictured on BugGuide, but we would not rule out any of the other groups in the superfamily Noctuiodea, which includes the Owlet Moths.  We are tagging your submission with the Bug Humanitarian Award, and unless the caterpillar was dropped into the pool by a passing bird, we feel confident it was feeding on some plant in your yard.  The plant upon which you photographed it looks like Mesquite, which is pictured on the National Park Service site, which leads us to believe it is a plant close to your pool.  Try offering other leaves from your yard, and if it starts eating, you can place the caterpillar on that plant.  Any additional information like size may help us to narrow down an identification.  We also wondered if this might be a Black Witch Caterpillar, and according to Texas Butterfly Ranch:  “Black Witch Moth caterpillars eat legumes, and favor acacia and mesquite. ”

Update: The caterpillar created a cocoon out of silk. A few weeks later, he hatched into a common , brown moth. (about 1 inch long.) I released him and watched him fly away.

Thanks for the Update.  That was neither a Black Witch or an Underwing Moth, but our general ID from the superfamily Noctuiodea is still most likely correct.

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Location: Arizona

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