Subject: caterpillar wearing flower camoflage
Location: Auburn, NJ
September 9, 2012 8:57 am
I took pics of a little inch worm type caterpillar a couple weeks ago, amazed I had never seen them before. I’ve taken dozens of pics of butterflies on these zinnas, but their camouflage is so effective, I mistook them as part of the flower. Luckily the camera lets me zoom in or I still might have missed them.
Over at bug guide came up with a close relative, but not sure the coloring is quite right to be a match: synchlora aerata? Am I getting close?
Signature: Creek Keeper
Hi there Creek Keeper,
You have correctly identified this Inchworm or Spanworm in the family Geometridae as the caterpillar of the Wavy-Lined Emerald, Synchlora aerata. According to BugGuide: “Caterpillars feed on a wide variety of plants, often composite flowers but also many other flowering plants, shrubs and trees.” The caterpillars use petals from flowers and other plant parts as a protective covering, hence the common name Camouflaged Looper. BugGuide also states: “Caterpillar adorns its body with plant fragments, usually flower petals, to camouflage it as it feeds. It is the only widespread species to do so(2), but from Maryland southwards other Synchlora spp. are also present and only raising to adulthood can yield a definite caterpillar ID.” Since you are in New Jersey, we are relatively certain that the species identification is correct.
Ah,Daniel, thanks so much! I don’t know why I’m no longer seeing updates for your posts on Facebook, though I used to get them in news feed. If I had, I would have seen your previous posts and not been quite so lost looking for information. I guess its the time line they changed me too? But I just spent some time catching up. Amazing things, bugs are.