Subject: Caterpillar ID
Geographic location of the bug: North Georgia, USA
Time: 12:01 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Please help ID this caterpillar. I know it’s not monarch. It is boring into wood.
How you want your letter signed: Dave Paulison
We are feeling very confident this is a Carpenter Moth Caterpillar in the family Cossidae because of its resemblance to this South African relative, tentatively identified as Macrocassus toluminus, though there are no matching images posted to BugGuide where it states: “Larvae are wood-boring.” But for the color, it also looks very much like both this posting from our archives and a this posting in our archives which we now believe are also Carpenter Moth larvae in the family Cossidae, but we are uncertain of the species. Breeding Butterflies has an interesting article on the European Goat Moth, Cossus cossus, another species in the family, and the site states: “The larvae of this moth do not feed on the leaves of the host plant – instead they bore tunnels though the wood, and live internally inside their host trees. Because of this habit, they are considered a harmful species; most caterpillars defoliate plants by consuming all their leaves. While definitely not beneficial for the health of the host plant, most plants and trees are able to recover from being defoliated. Burrowing directly through the trunks of trees is another story however, and is generally not the type of damage that trees can recover from. Because of this, a few larvae have the potential to kill even larger trees. And because their host plants include trees of economic value such as apple, cherry, walnut or olive, most farmers do not consider them welcome guests.” We hope we can eventually provide a species identification for all three of our postings that all originate from Georgia and Florida.
Correction: Sawfly Larva
Thanks to Cesar Crash from Insetologia in a comment with a link to Oregon State University, we concur that this appears to be a Dogwood Sawfly Larva, Macremphytus lovetii. The site states: “The larvae leave the dogwood to pupate and will burrow into soft wood, and possibly soil, so house siding near a plant may be pitted with pupating chambers. Further damage may occur to structures from woodpeckers seeking to feed on the overwintering insects.” Though BugGuide does not report the species from Georgia, it is reported from many eastern states, including North Carolina.