Currently viewing the category: "Cutworms and Owlet Caterpillars"

Subject:  What kind of caterpillar?
Geographic location of the bug:  In Calgary, Alberta on a mat in truck
Date: 07/09/2018
Time: 02:06 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hey there, just curious what kind if caterpillar this is? It was found on a mat. Underneath is same color but each “section” has a brown-orange spot. I tried to get it onto a leaf to get it outside and it was like a ninja doing backflips and freaking out! Never seen a caterpillar move that fast! Thanks!
How you want your letter signed:  K Hunter

Underwing Caterpillar, we believe

Dear K Hunter,
This looks to us like an Underwing Caterpillar in the genus
Catocala.  Here is a BugGuide image for comparison.

Subject:  Tomato caterpillars
Geographic location of the bug:  St. Elizabeth, Jamaica
Date: 04/09/2018
Time: 09:04 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello Bugman!
I’ve  been enjoying your website for years  and I am now excited to submit my first question! I am a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Jamaica and my host father is growing some of the most beautiful tomatoes in the entire world. However there is an aggressive caterpillar pest Wreaking havoc on his produce. I am trying to encourage less toxic methods to deal with such pests in the community and I was hoping that you could identify the species of caterpillar for me in order to create a more targeted management method. Thank you so much for your help and keep up the good work!
How you want your letter signed:  Farming PCV


Dear Farming PCV,
This is some species of Cutworm in the family Noctuidae, and many caterpillars in the family look very similar.  Our internet search did turn up images on Minden Pictures of the Caterpillar of the Large Yellow Underwing,
Noctua pronuba, feeding on the leaves of a tomato plant, and BugGuide states “Larvae feed on a variety of crops and vegetables, plus grasses”, but even though we see a similarity, we do not believe that is your species.  We found an image on Colourbox that is identified as a Turnip Moth cutworm, Agrotis segetum, eating a tomato, and it resembles your culprit, but other images of this caterpillar we located on the internet are brown and we cannot confirm that identification either.  Both species we have mentioned are Old World species, but the Large Yellow Underwing has been introduced to North America.  We found additional images of brown Cutworms eating tomatoes on Dreamstime and then we believe we found your culprit on Alamy where it is identified as a “Bright-line Brown-eye moth, also known as tomato moth (Lacanobia oleracea).”  According to UK Moths: “Favouring suburban habitats as well as salt-marshes, the larval foodplants in the wild are usually orache (Atriplex) and goosefoot (Chenopodium), but it can sometimes attack cultivated tomatoes, feeding internally in the fruit.”  Wikipedia does not list Jamaica nor any other New World location, but that does not mean the species has not been introduced.  It might just be undocumented at this time.  Wildlife Insight offers the following advice:  “To prevent the adult moths from laying eggs on the plants some fine mesh should be placed over the greenhouse windows between May and August. Doors left open during the day to allow bees to enter should be netted off if left open at night.  If growing tomatoes outdoors then the whole plant will have be cloaked in netting.  Any clusters of eggs are usually easy to find on the underside of the leaves and can then be scrapped off.  At the first sign of fenestrations appearing in tomato leaves check the undersides for the tiny caterpillars.  The location of the feeding caterpillars is often given away by fine dark freckling of frass on the leaves directly beneath those being eaten.”


Thank you so very much for your assistance!

Subject:  What’s inside this chrysalis?
Geographic location of the bug:  Phoenix, AZ, Geranium Plant
Date: 02/06/2018
Time: 01:41 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Just curious what is inside this little guy.. moves when it’s touched. Maybe a butterfly or moth? About an inch and a half long. If it is harmless, how can I protect it?
How you want your letter signed:  Keri

Moth Pupa

Dear Keri,
We are confident that this is a Moth Pupa, but beyond that, we doubt that we can provide a more specific identification.  It might be a member of the superfamily Noctuoidea, a group with many members that pupate underground without spinning a cocoon.  We did locate this image of a caterpillar from the Owlet moth family eating the leaf of a geranium in nearby California on BugGuide, and it is possibly your individual is closely related.  Knowing the food plant is often a tremendous assistance when identifying insects.

Subject:  Unknown
Geographic location of the bug:  Marloth Park, South Africa
Date: 01/02/2018
Time: 11:49 AM EDT
Good day.
Found this gorgeous worm outside. It seems to be trying to find its way with the “paddles” on the back, might be hugely mistaken though. Was wondering if you could assist me as I cannot find help on the internet? Would like to know how the butterfly looks.
Kind regards
How you want your letter signed:  Yolande

Dice Moth Caterpillar

Dear Yolande,
Your Caterpillar is very similar looking to the North American Paddle Caterpillar in the Owlet Moth family Noctuidae, that we figured it might be closely related, and that led us to this posting of some Dice Moth Caterpillars in the
Rhanidophora on the Biodiversity on my Farm site.  iSpot also contains some nice images of Rhanidophora ridens, the species that looks most like your individual.  Alamy also has a nice image.

Subject:  catapillar ID
Geographic location of the bug:  Houston Area
Date: 12/07/2017
Time: 05:27 PM EDT
A friend of mine has come across these and can’t ID them. Any help would be appreciated.
How you want your letter signed:  anything will do

Eight Spotted Forrester Caterpillar

This is the caterpillar of an Eight Spotted Forrester, which you can verify by comparing your image to this BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on leaves of grape (Vitis spp.), peppervine (Ampelopsis spp.), and Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).”   We are postdating your submission to go live later in the month when our editorial staff is on holiday.

Subject:  Caterpillar ID Request
Geographic location of the bug:  Truro, Nova Scotia
Date: 10/11/2017
Time: 11:22 PM EDT
Found on small plant ~2in from the ground in a deciduous forest, Sept 2, 2017 in Central Nova Scotia.
About 3cm long
closest I’ve found is willow sawfly larvae.
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks! Rachel

Paddle Caterpillar

Dear Rachel,
The Paddle Caterpillar,
Acronicta funeralis, is the larva of the Funerary Dagger Moth.  It is one of the more distinctive looking North American caterpillars, however, you probably had trouble locating an identification because online images are not especially numerous.  According to BugGuide:  “larvae feed on leaves of alder, apple, birch, blueberry/huckleberry (Vaccinium spp.), cottonwood, dogwood, elm, hazel, hickory, maple, oak, willow.”