Currently viewing the category: "Cutworms and Owlet Caterpillars"

Subject:  Mr. Caterpillar, WHO are YOU?
Geographic location of the bug:  San Diego, CA
Date: 04/04/2019
Time: 11:41 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  My 6-year-old wants to be an entomologist when he grows up. As he puts it, “I care for the earth and small creatures!” He found this caterpillar at the park today. He eagerly consulted his beloved Southern California Butterfly/Moth Pamphlet, but this caterpillar was not pictured. I promised him I’d ask you for help!
How you want your letter signed:  SoCal Insect Hobbyists


Dear SoCal Insect Hobbyists,
This is a Cutworm, the common name for many caterpillars in the subfamily Noctuinae.  Cutworms are reviled by many home gardeners because of the manner in which the caterpillars feed.  Cutworms will cut a sprouting plant at ground level in order to feed, effectively killing newly sprouted plants and seriously jeopardizing the survival of larger plants that might be able to sprout back from the roots.  Most Cutworms develop into drab, brown moths.

Subject:  Caterpillar identification
Geographic location of the bug:  Northern Illinois at Wisconsin border
Date: 02/07/2019
Time: 11:47 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this caterpillar stuck to the ice on 2-6-19, in the middle of winter during a period of very wintery weather.  It was in the yard, no where near any trees or bushes.  The temps have been generally near freezing, but we did have a warming a few days ago (temps in the high 40s) which was just after a sever cold (-27 neg numbers 3 days in a row).  This caterpillar had its back feet frozen into the ice but its body was soft and it is still alive after being warmed in the house.
How you want your letter signed:  Steve

Winter Cutworm

Dear Steve,
This is a Cutworm in the family Noctuidae, and based on the time of year and the conditions under which it was found, we are confident it is a Winter Cutworm,
Noctua pronuba, the caterpillar of the invasive Large Yellow Underwing.  According to BugGuide:  “Introduced from Europe to Nova Scotia in 1979, this species has since spread north to the Arctic Ocean, west to the Pacific, and south to the Gulf of Mexico.”

Subject:  Caterpillar ID?
Geographic location of the bug:  Occoquan National Wildlife Refuge, Occoquan, Virginia
Date: 09/08/2018
Time: 05:50 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Daniel,
I observed (and guarded) this Caterpillar crossing the road, and I can’t seem to find a reference with anything even close. Perhaps you can help? Thanks in Advance.
How you want your letter signed:  Seth

Yellow Necked Caterpillar

Dear Seth,
Based on this BugGuide image, we are confident this is a Yellow Necked Caterpillar,
Datana ministra.  According to BugGuide:  “Early instars feed gregariously and skeletonize leaves.  The larvae feed on Malus, Quercus, Betula and Salix species. Young larvae skeletonise the leaves of their host plant. Later, they feed on all of the leaf except the leaf stalk. They feed in groups.”

Subject:  Caterpillars
Geographic location of the bug:  New Jersey
Date: 08/26/2018
Time: 12:36 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I would like to identify this bug
How you want your letter signed:  Kenneth ueland

American Dagger Moth Caterpillar

Dear Kenneth,
This is an American Dagger Moth Caterpillar,
Acronicta americana, and according to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on leaves of alder, ash, birch, elm, hickory, maple, oak, poplar, walnut, willow and other deciduous trees.”


Subject:  What caterpillar is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Tucson, AZ
Date: 08/15/2018
Time: 12:45 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you please tell me what kind of Caterpillar this is?  It is on top of my buckhorn cholla  plant.
How you want your letter signed:  Maureen C.

Staghorn Cholla Moth Caterpillar

Dear Maureen,
Thanks so much for letting us know you found this Caterpillar on a buckhorn cholla.  Often knowing the food plant upon which an insect is found is of tremendous help in making an identification, and it only took us about a minute to find this BugGuide image of a Staghorn Cholla Moth Caterpillar,
Euscirrhopterus cosyra.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed externally on cactus, rather than boring inside like many other cactus-feeders.”

Thank you Daniel! I would have never figured this out. I’m new to Arizona and have never seen anything like this.
It is a fascinating looking caterpillar! Thank you again for your help.

Subject:  caterpillar?
Geographic location of the bug:  near Luang Prabang, Laos
Date: 08/07/2018
Time: 09:46 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this thing that looks like a caterpillar hanging on a tree at Kuang Si Waterfalls, Laos. (Date: 5 Aug 2018). Couldn’t find anything about this!
How you want your letter signed:  Elisabeth

Fruit Piercing Moth Caterpillar

Dear Elisabeth,
We quickly identified your Fruit Piercing Moth Caterpillar in the genus
Eudocima thanks to images on the Australian site Butterfly House where Eudocima fullonia ranges, and the site indicates:  “The species occurs in Asia and the south-west Pacific, for example: Hawaii, New Caledonia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Thailand,” which probably means Laos as well.  There are also some nice images of the caterpillar on FlickRiver.  We have several images on our site of Fruit Piercing Moths, but to the best of our memory (we have been posting for 16 years) this is the first image we have posted of the Caterpillar.