Subject: Green caterpillar with reddish/brown markings along the back
Geographic location of the bug: Benzie Michigan
Time: 07:37 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Is this a harmless caterpillar or one that can kill trees?
I looked at 100s of green caterpillar photos to identify it and none look like this one
I’ve been having some tree problems and he was found in the area but I’m thinking not the culprit. Maybe, maybe not. Trying to decide if I should relocate him, as the gypsy moth virus/fungus is helping remove those caterpillars and it might be contagious
How you want your letter signed: C
For the most part, native caterpillars are rarely a threat to native plants. Introduced species like the Gypsy Moth have no natural enemies when they are introduced, which is why exotic imported species often threaten sensitive ecosystems. We do not recognize your striking Caterpillar, and our initial internet investigation did not produce anything worth citing, so we are posting it as Unidentified and we are hoping our readers help us identify what we suspect is a Noctuoid Caterpillar.
Update: Thanks to a comment from Cesar Crash, we are confident this is a Linden Prominent Moth Caterpillar, Ellida caniplaga, which is pictured on BugGuide. BugGuide notes “The larvae feed on the leaves of basswood (=linden)” and “The larvae are rarely seen (for many years the description of the caterpillar was not known) because they usually feed high in the canopy of basswood trees; they are most likely to be observed descending the trunk of the tree enroute to their pupation site in the soil.”