Currently viewing the category: "butterfly caterpillars"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Gold spiked chrysalis
Geographic location of the bug: n South Central Va
Date: 06/18/2018
Time: 06:08 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello,
Thank you for all of your hard work over the years, I’ve found you again after some time.
I really just want to share with you my photos, it might be something you’ll appreciate.
How you want your letter signed:  From Juicy – Steady as she goes

Variegated Fritillary Chrysalis

Dear Juicy-Steady as she goes,
This beautiful chrysalis is that of a Variegated Fritillary.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  black caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Noth Umpqua area of Oregon
Date: 06/13/2018
Time: 04:44 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi I’ve been having trouble identifying this critter. They showed up June 2, 10 days ago by the thousands. At first they were about 1″ long , now they are around 2″. I’ve been watching their progress and today I noticed some pupae forming. I had thought they were Ceanothus Silk Moth caterpillars but now I don’t thinks so.
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks Bill

Tortoiseshell Caterpillar

Dear Bill,
We immediately wrote back to see if you could provide the name of the plant upon which these Tortoiseshell Caterpillars are feeding, because we are certain the genus is
Nymphalis, but we are not sure of the species.  Our likeliest candidate because they are often found in great numbers is that they are Mourning Cloak Caterpillars, but the caterpillar lacks the red spots found on Mourning Cloak Caterpillars and the chrysalis does not really look right.  According to BugGuide, Mourning Cloak Caterpillars feed on ” primarily willow (Salix spp.) but also other trees and shrubs including Cottonwood (Populus deltoides), Trembling Aspen (P. tremuloides), American Elm (Ulmus americana), Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera), and Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis).”  Based on images posted to BugGuide, we believe they are probably California Tortoiseshells, and Oregon is well within the range, and since BugGuide states “Larva feeds on various species of wild lilac (Ceanothus),”  knowing the food plant would greatly assist in the identification.  Our least likely candidate due to your location is the Compton Tortoiseshell because most caterpillars are green, but BugGuide does picture this black individual and BugGuide indicates the range as being “southeastern Alaska and across Canada south of the tundra, south in the west to Montana and Wyoming, south in the east to North Carolina and Missouri known to wander; has been recorded as far south as California and Florida, and as far north as Baker Lake, north of treeline in Nunavut” and also states “larvae feed in groups on willow (Salix spp.), birch (Betula spp.), and poplar (Populus spp.).”  In recapping, we are leaning toward California Tortoiseshells, and knowing they were feeding on Ceanothus would seal the deal for us.

Metamorphosis of a Tortoiseshell Caterpillar

Hi Thanks for the response They were feeding on Buckbrush (Ceanothus) and Schoolers Willow. There were people clearing trees and brush from under a major powerline up the hill behind me and they said that the caterpillars completely defoliated over 2 acres of buckbrush. Yesterday I was still seeing them coming towards our home and on the driveway but it is slowing down and they are attaching and forming  the chrysalis. I’m sure looking forward to seeing them when they emerge. Thanks Bill

Please try to send us images of any adults that emerge.  That will surely verify the species.

Tortoiseshell Chrysalis

How long will they be in the Crysalis? It’s warming up to the 90’s next week.

Two weeks is a good average, but temperature and humidity may affect eclosion time.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  What is this caterpillar?
Geographic location of the bug:  Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Date: 06/10/2018
Time: 08:30 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this caterpillar climbing on my front door yesterday. (picture 1)  Today I caught him j’ing (picture 2) He has now turned into a chrysalis.   (picture 3)  There is a second one of the same sort at the bottom of my door.  He is green with a dark head and has barbed setae or spikes.   I would like to know what kind of caterpillar he is and what he will become.  I hope you can help me.  Thanks!
How you want your letter signed:  Sherrie

Compton Tortoiseshell Caterpillar

Dear Sherrie,
How lucky are you???? We have identified your caterpillar as a Compton Tortoiseshell Caterpillar,
Nymphalis l-album, thanks to images posted to BugGuide.  The caterpillar and chrysalis are described on BugGuide,:  “Larva: body speckled and spotted white on pale green, yellow and brown, or blackish, with several rows of branched, usually black spines; head also bears many short spines, with one pair larger and branched near the tip. This is the only Nymphalis species with the pair of branched head horns. Polygonia larvae are similar, though usually with different markings.  Pupae: similar to other Nymphalis and to Aglais species, with two points on head end and two rows of conical projections mostly arranged along the dorsum of abdomen + thorax; plus, one prominent point on the mid-dorsum and more along the sides of the thorax.”  According to BugGuide, the range is:  “southeastern Alaska and across Canada south of the tundra, south in the west to Montana and Wyoming, south in the east to North Carolina and Missouri known to wander; has been recorded as far south as California and Florida, and as far north as Baker Lake, north of treeline in Nunavut.”   The chrysalis of the Compton Tortoiseshell is pictured on the John Fowler website.  If your luck continues and you are able to witness the emergence of the adult Compton Tortoiseshell, we would love to have you send us the images.

Pre-Pupal Compton Tortoiseshell Caterpillar

Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much!  I was curious to see what kind of caterpillar it was.  The caterpillar crawled up my front door and decided that was the place to stay.  Ot was interesting to see him in the j.  An hour and a half later he was a chrysalis.  Only assuming it was that long because that is when I came back from shopping.  I now have another one below my front door, so I have the opportunity to witness two emerge.  I hope they do it while I am watching.  Do you know how long they will stay in the chrysalis before they emerge?
Thank you again,
Sherrie

Hi again Sherrie,
The actual eclosion date, the day the adult emerges from the chrysalis, may vary depending upon temperature and other weather conditions, but according to BBC:  “The chrysalis stage varies between species but is usually around two weeks, whilst the caterpillar inside is undergoes metamorphosis into a butterfly. In order to emerge, they need to be out of direct sunlight, at around 25 degrees and in relatively high humidity.”  According to Woodland Trust:  “Conversion to a butterfly takes place inside the chrysalis – this process can take several weeks.”  According to Sciencing:  “Most butterflies take about 10 to 14 days to emerge from their chrysalises.”  Many chrysalides change color just prior to pupation, so that might be a hint that eclosion is near.

Chrysalis of a Compton Tortoiseshell

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Caterpillar ID
Geographic location of the bug:  Warner’s Bay NSW
Date: 05/11/2018
Time: 04:12 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you identify this caterpillar which was on a dwarf Lime Citrus tree? I tried uploading a video before. Wouldn’t allow it. Couldn’t cancel it. Had to start over
How you want your letter signed:  Brian Holt

Orchard Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear Brian,
This is the Caterpillar of an Orchard Swallowtail,
Papilio aegeus, and you can verify our identification on Butterfly House where it states:  “Although this Caterpillar is a pest on suburban Lemon trees, it is one of the most interesting caterpillars in Australia, Both its structure and its behaviour have evolved to an extraordinary degree to give it protective mechanisms against predators. It also grows into one of the largest butterflies to grace suburban gardens.”  Here is an image from FlickR.  Though they feed on the leaves, unless you have a very small tree and a large number of caterpillars, the damage is not lethal to the tree.  We would allow the caterpillar to remain so you can enjoy the adult Orchard Swallowtail.

Thank you for your help. This is exactly the advice I gave my customers on my gardening FB Page. I’d like to publish your response there.
Regards, Brian Holt
HOLTS Prestige Gardens

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Colorful Ecuadorian caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Rio Silanche Sanctuary, Ecuador
Date: 04/21/2018
Time: 11:56 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Daniel, et al.
While visiting Ecuador mid-January 2017, I unfurled this Pyrginae  caterpillar from it’s shelter.  Sorry, I don’t know what plant it was on.  I wonder if one of your experts can tell me the name of the skipper.
Thanks much,
How you want your letter signed:  Dwaine

Skipper Caterpillar

Hi Dwaine,
This is a gorgeous caterpillar.  Upon embarking on identification research, we quickly found this very different, but also colorfully striped Skipper Caterpillar on FlickR and another Skipper Caterpillar (
Astraptes fulgerator) from Brazil on FlickR, shot by the same photographer, is an even closer match to your individual.  Despite the color difference, we would not rule out that your individual might be Astraptes fulgerator or another member of the genus.  Caterpillars often change color just prior to metamorphosis, and pink and purple are two colors some caterpillars assume when undergoing morphological changes.  This Biodiversity in Focus article cites the genus Astraptes and DNA identification, and it contains an image of some variability in Astraptes caterpillars based on food plants.  There are also images of Two-Barred Flasher Caterpillars on the North American Butterfly Association of South Texas site.  We will contact Keith Wolfe to see if he can provide any information.

Skipper Caterpillar

Thank you so much!!  That is a wealth of information I did not have.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  What caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Hong Kong
Date: 04/15/2018
Time: 11:52 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi there! We found these caterpillars on a lime plant we were growing in school. It is springtime in Hong Kong. There are many plants and trees in our playground, but there are no other lime plants here.  The lime plant was a growing project, And isn’t normally in the playground so I wonder if this is actually their usual food. Do you know what species these caterpillars are and what do they eat? Thank you
How you want your letter signed:  From Maddie

Common Mormon Caterpillars

Dear Maddie,
When caterpillars are found on a plant, one can with some assurance deduce that the caterpillar is feeding on that plant.  Butterflies and moths will lay eggs on plants that are suitable food sources for their caterpillars and that is what happened to your lime tree.  There are several species of Swallowtail Butterflies with similar looking caterpillars that feed on lime and other citrus tree leaves.  We believe your caterpillars are those of a Common Mormon,
Papilio polytes, and according to Butterflies of Singapore:  “The local host plants include the Indian Curry Leaf plant and various Citrus spp. One notable addition is the Mangrove Lime (Merope angulata) which was found to be utilized as larval host plant by members of the Plant Systematics group of the Department of Biological Sciences (NUS) in the recent past.”  The site also has nice images of the caterpillars and they look like your individuals.  We would not rule out that these might be the caterpillars of a Lime Swallowtail, Papilio demoleus, which is also pictured on the Butterflies of Singapore site.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination