Currently viewing the category: "moth caterpillars"

Two to Tango
Location: near Athens GA USA
June 17, 2011 1:50 pm
Greetings, who are these two on the latch of the gate fence in northeastern Georgia, USA? Cheers!
Signature: Karen

Spined Soldier Bug nymph eats Caterpillar

Hi Karen,
Both individuals in your photograph are immature insects.  The predator is one of the Predatory Stink Bugs in the subfamily Asopinae, and we believe based on this image on BugGuide, that it is most likely in the genus
Podisus, though nymphs are often difficult to accurately identify.  As you can see from the information page on the genus Podisus on BugGuide, there are both light and dark forms of the nymphs, and yours appears to be a light nymph.  We believe the caterpillar is a Cutworm, a caterpillar of an Owlet Moth.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you, and glad to hear it was a beneficial (possibly a spined soldier bug I suppose). Here’s a similar picture of predator + caterpillar that I found afterreading your email: ; and then there are the beneficial assassin bugs:
It has been difficult in the garden for me to tell a beneficial from adestructive stinkbug at times, but tonight I saw the ‘black streak on winged membrane’  in a pic of the soldiered spine, which was helpful to learn ( ). I carry a magnifying glass in my garden bag and have my phone with Web access too; but sometimes, esp. in 90+ degrees, I simply capture whatever it is and try to look it up later to avoid squashing a beneficial anything. Eggs are difficult to discern, of course.
Tonight I noticed a primary hindrance to learning to ID bugs  is me not understanding what the description refers to, which will require more study than I have time for right now. But here’s the example, “single-spined humeral angle” (and I even know what a human humerus is, <smile>): at , there is this: “Adult predatory stink bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say). Not only is this predatory stink bug much smaller than Alcaeorrhynchus grandis (Dallas), but notice the single-spined humeral angle.”
Must close. Thanks again for the educational side trip. I have other bug pics that I’ll send sometime for your collections.
Best wishes,

Location: Edward’s Plateau, Ft. Hood, TX
June 4, 2011 1:34 am
I found this caterpillar a few weeks ago on Ashe Juniper, it blended in so well with the branch it was on, it could barely be seen.
While the top was non-descript, the underneath of the caterpillar was an odd light seafoam green with darker green spots (see picture).
I’ve found some similar looking caterpillars, but nothing that fits, nor mentions a green underside.
Any help would be appreciated!
Thank you!
Signature: writerwren

possibly Underwing Caterpillar

Dear writerwren,
We believe this caterpillar resembles those of the Underwing Moths in the genus
Catocala.  There are many similar photos on BugGuide, including this view of a Caterpillar underside that has the coloration of your specimen.  We find the fact that it was feeding on Ashe Juniper interesting because BugGuide indicates: “Larvae of most species feed on foliage of deciduous trees.” Most Underwing Moths have mottled brown upper wings that blend in with the bark of trees that they rest upon, very effectively camouflaging them from predators.  The underwings are often brightly colored with red and black stripes giving the genus its popular name Underwing Moths.  The underwings only show when the moth is in flight.  Predators will continue to search for the bright coloration when the moth comes to rest and they may fail to notice the camouflaged moth.  We tried a web search of the words “catocala, juniper, Texas” and found this technical article, and somewhere buried in it you may find a species that feeds on juniper.  We will be out of the office for a week in mid June, and we are preparing your request to go live on June 13.

Probably Underwing Caterpillar

Vietnamese Bug Boggle
Location: Mekong River, southern Vietnam
June 4, 2011 1:01 am
This guy was found on a farm at the edge of the Mekong River near the village Cai Be, Southern Vietnam.
Thanks if you can name it for me ^_^
Signature: Jardine

Lobster Caterpillar

Dear Jardine,
This most unusual looking Caterpillar is known as the Lobster Caterpillar,
Stauropus fagi.  It is a caterpillar in the moth family Notodontidae, and the species is found across the Eurasian continent and including the islands of Southern England and Japan.  Here is a link to a photo on the UK Moths website and here are images from the Moths and Butterflies of Europe and North Africa website that show much of the life cycle.  We will be out of the office for a week in mid June, and we do not want our regular readers to suffer any bug withdrawals, so we are preparing your request to post live to our site on June 13.

Big Cacoon
Location: Southren WI
May 29, 2011 9:35 am
My Daughter found this in the woods behind our house (southren WI). She is a bug nut and asked me what it was. We have looked in several books but can’t figure it out. Its alive and moving and the topic of all talk at our house. We would love to know what it is.
Signature: Michael Roehl

Royal Moth Pupa

Dear Michael,
This is definitely a Moth Pupa and it is a large moth.  We do not believe it is a Sphinx Moth Pupa, though they bury themselves underground to pupate.  We are more inclined to identify this as a Giant Silkmoth Pupa, more specifically a Royal Moth Pupa in the subfamily Ceratocampinae, possibly an Imperial Moth or a Regal Moth.  Here is a matching photo of an unidentified Royal Moth pupa from BugGuide for comparison.  Here is a photo of an Imperial Moth Pupa from BugGuide and here is a photo of a Regal Moth Pupa from BugGuide.  You can see the similarities, though our inclination is to favor the Imperial Moth.  We love your photograph, especially the thoughtfulness of having the model change into an insect themed wardrobe.

Thanks so much for taking the time to help us out. My daughter is thrilled, who new you could have so much fun with a pupa. We have it in a “Critter Cage” if it hatches sucsessfully I will send you a picture.

Do you know what this caterpillar is?
Location: San Diego, CA
May 27, 2011 12:31 pm
We found this caterpillar in San Diego CA at Mission Trails Regional Park on a willow tree. We can not figure out what it is. Can you help. Thanks.
Signature: D in SD

What's That Nymphalid Caterpillar???

Dear D in SD,
The basic coloration and morphology of your caterpillar and its presence on Willow immediately suggested a Mourning Cloak, known as a Camberwell Beauty across the pond, however, no photos on BugGuide look like this.  Mourning Cloak Caterpillars are black spiny creatures (DO NOT TOUCH) and they have 8 rows of orange red dots along the back.  Your caterpillar appears to have 9 double rows of orange spines and its variegated pattern is beautiful.  We really wish your lateral view was not so blurry.  We suspect your caterpillar, whatever it might be, may irritate human skin if in contact with the spines.  We did additional research and the Green Comma,
Polygonia faunus, also feeds on “willows and birches and others” according to Jeffrey Glassberg’s book Butterflies through Binoculars The West.  The photos we found online look even more drastically different than the Mourning Cloak Caterpillar photos posted to BugGuide.  Could it be Chlosyne harrisii Harris’s Checkerspot, which we found on the Moth Photographers Group by scrolling down the page.  What does Chlosyne harrisii eat?  NOPE according to BugGuide, it ranges elsewhere.  Here is the Butterflies and Moths of North America website page on the Green Comma.

Brush Footed Butterfly Caterpillar on Willow

Alas, our search has turned up nothing conclusive.  We strongly believe that the key to a correct identification here is the presence on Willow.
P.S.  NEW THOUGHT:  Might it be a moth caterpillar like a Buck Moth?

Correction courtesy of Keith Wolfe
“D” and Daniel, this is a Hemileuca (Saturniidae) larva.  These nymphalid look-alikes confused me, too, when I first started studying young butterflies.
Best wishes,

Hi Keith,
Funny, Buck Moths did cross my mind when I was researching this caterpillar.

Hi there.  Thanks for looking into this for me.  After looking Butterflies and Moths of N.A. I do think it is a Nevada Buckmoth.
I really appreciate the time you took to check it out.
D in SD

Bill Oehlke supplies a response
It is definitely Hemileuca nevadensis for first one
and for second one as well.
Bill Oehlke

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.

Horned Spanworm

Dear John,
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.”