Location: East Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
May 24, 2011 8:24 pm
I found this oddball on my shirt after walking through some trees ( mostly ironwood, sweetgum, red maple, but there were other around) near a river in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in TN – about elevation 1500’. Sorry just one picture! I couldn’t find anything like it in David Wagner’s excellent Caterpillar field guide…
Signature: John D.
Most caterpillars have five pairs of prolegs at the anterior end of the body and these prolegs assist in the caterpillar locomotion. Many caterpillars in the family Geometridae have only two pairs of prolegs, so their method of locomotion is unusual. They crawl forward on their true legs and then loop the rear portion of the body forward. Because of this manner of locomotion, they are commonly called Inchworms or Spanworms. The filaments on your specimen are very unusual and immediately indicate it is a member of the genus Nematocampa, most likely the Horned Spanworm, Nematocampa resistaria, which we identified on BugGuide. According to BugGuide: “Larvae feed on many hardwoods and several softwood species of shrubs and trees including pine, hemlock, fir, larch and spruce.”