Currently viewing the category: "moth caterpillars"

Thanks for your article identifying the “fuzzy blonde bees” that have been patrolling our hillside for the last week. I’m so glad my Yahoo search came up with your page. It was very hard to find any info on anything but black carpenter bees, even in our 3 or 4 insect field guides only one mentioned that carpenter bees could be coloured differently.
We have a current troop of about 5 “blonde boys” and as of yet, no sign of their black female counterparts.
I’ve attached a jpg of a larvae we have found here lately. Have never seen it before in 7 years… Now we’ve seen two, both striped with anal horns. One, in the creek, was much darker than this one, but on both the horn and the mouthparts are gold. We have very few domestic plants around our cabin in the National Forest, but tons of nightshade. Could these be hornworms of some type? They are quite lovely to behold, but a very odd find here.
V Novo

Dear V Novo,
The male Valley Carpenter Bees, Xylocopa varipuncta, are much shorter lived than the females. I have been seeing female bees this spring, visiting my Honey Suckle as well as the Wisteria.
Your caterpillar is a White Lined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx, Hyles lineata, a beautiful moth with a three inch wingspan. I have been seeing adult moths on the USC campus, resting in the eaves of the outdoor hallways near the art building. They have an almost infinite list of food plants, but are very fond of fuschia.

I live in Texas and have always live with (not very well I might add!) what I have always thought were “ASP”. That must not be the “real name” because I can’t find anything on them. They sting like the dickens! Could you please give me more info. on them. They are about an inch long and furry. They tend to hang out on Oak (I think) leaves. THEY STING SOOOO BAD!!!!
Thank you,

Hi Again Julie,
I have finally identified your Asps. It is another name for the Puss Caterpillar. The Puss Caterpillar or “Asp” is the larval form of the Flannel Moth, Megalopyge opercularis. The caterpillars grow to about 1 inch long and are furry in appearance, being completely covered by thick tan to grayish-white hairs that taper toward the back end. Among the long body hairs are shorter spines that discharge venom upon contact. The head and legs are not visible from above. The night-active adults known as flannel moths are rarely encountered. Here is a photo from a great site.

Asps and Wasps, easily confused
I haven’t had my question answered but have seen questions from Sept answered. Do I need a pic? If so, I don’t have one. My question again is below.
We have some bugs in our garage that I would like to know more about. We call them “asps” although I’m not sure this is the accurate name. Our garage is detached from our home not heated/cooled and dark most of the time. We noticed that sometimes they attach themselves to the siding on our house in something sort of like a cocoon. They are small, about 3/4 of an inch, look to be kinda “furry”, gray to brown in color. If you get stung by one it hurts like hell. I was stung on the inside of my forearm and felt pain all the way to my armpit. A call to poison control said the sting affects your lymph nodes and that was the pain I was feeling in my armpit area. The burning is awful and it took me a good 4-6 weeks to get rid of the itch. We think our dog may have been stung by one on the nose and boy did she suffer. Her snout was so swollen her eyes were almost shut and she had a nasty area on her nose at the point of contact.
We’d also like to know if there is anything we can do to get rid of them.
V. Hernandez
San Antonio, TX

Dear Velma,
I doubt that you were stung by an asp, which is in actuality the deadly snake that Cleopatra used to commit suicide rather than to submit to Caesar. Wasps, however, are a different story and actually fit your description. Some species of solitary wasps make a mud nest in protected areas like under the eaves or inside of a garage. They sting, and sensitive people could posibly be affected as long as you state. We are not doctors, so we can’t tell you much about your lymph nodes, and we have no extermination advice, that being a job for your local experts. Sorry for the delay in answering your letter. We truly have been swamped with letters. Thank you for your patience.

My daughter found these cocoon like pods next door to my house. There where many pods (15 in all) around the pine tree and on the pine tree that looked very natural. I’m unable to tell her what they are. Can you please help in identifying the ponds.
Brooklyn N.Y.
Michael Caputo & Kids

Dear Michael,
You have Bagworms, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis. They are common but rarely become serious pests. According to The Golden Guide Insect book, "their history is strange. The wingless and legless female, after mating, crawls back into her ‘bag’ and lays hundreds of yellow eggs, which hatch in spring. The young larvae feed on leaves of many kinds of trees, building their conical bags as they feed. Later they bind their bags to twigs (or in your case the brick wall) and pupate. The male emerges, seeks the female, and mates." We have a Bagworm page with additional information.

Dear What’s That Bug,
My girlfriend and I are stumped on identifying a bug, or more accurately, a cocoon that has latched on to the outside of her home in central Texas. 3 weeks ago this creature was partially out of its shell, and dragging this strange looking cocoon along with him. He then preceded to pull himself up a brick wall, and has been there without sign of life for 3 weeks now.
Can you help identify this strange looking creature?

Dear Mister Chris,
I appologize for the delay in your answer, but the photo was lost in the bowels of American Homebody while America’s Sweetheart was in Miami. I just received the image. You have a bagworm, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis. The exact composition of the bag is dependant upon the host plant which can be any number of deciduous trees as well as the preferred coniferous trees. Juniper is a particular favorite. I have located some information on for you. Bagworms feed on shade, orchard, and forest trees of nearly every kind, as well as many ornamental shrubs and perennials. Severe attacks are unusual. Since deciduous plants grow new leaves, damage to them is usually not serious. The growth of small or newly planted trees, however, could be slowed by leaf feeding. Newly hatched larvae begin to spin silken bags around themselves shortly after hatching. The first evidence of infestation is the presence of 1/4 inch bags which are carried almost on end by the young caterpillars inside. As larvae grow, leaf fragments are added to the bag, which may reach a length of 2 inches by the end of summer. The adult female moth is wingless and never leaves the bag. Adult males are small, grey moths with clear wings. Bagworms overwinter in the egg stage inside female bags fastened to twigs. Eggs hatch in late May and early June, and larvae feed until late August or early September. Males emerge in September and mate with females through the bag entrance. You can also check out this website which has some great photos of the bagworm.

we found a hickory horned devil lastnight. of course, we had no idea what it was until i found it on your website. what do we do to watch it’s metamorphisis? i have attached a picture.
christina franz
st. louis mo

Hi Christina,
Amazing, we just posted that photograph yesterday. Often with insects as well as other species, sightings appear in swarms because of the life cycles which in isolated populations are obviously in sync with one another. We have already noted that the Hickory Horned Devil is the common name of the caterpillar of the Royal (or Regal) Walnut Moth, names which reveal two of the food sources. Other leaves fed upon by the caterpillar are butternut, ash, persimmon, sweet gum and sumac. The adult moths have mouth parts but probably do not feed. Pupation occurs in the ground, with no cocoon being formed. It seems that this week, mature caterpillars (in fact an oxymoron since the caterpillar is an immature form) have been dropping from their host trees to the ground where they will burrow. This will unfortunately hide the metamorphosis from view. You can try providing the caterpillar with a box of some sort filled with rich earth from the garden that is not packed too tightly. You might also want to cover the ground with leaves. The caterpillar will then burrow and metamorphose into the naked pupa. You will want to keep the box in a protected place where it will not be too warm, but will also not freeze thoroughly. Unfortunately in a box, this might be difficult. It need the winter coolness, but in the wild, the earth only freezes solid for several inches, and the caterpillar has protection from the killing of the freeze. If you aren’t too squeemish, you can refrigerate the box in your kitchen. Then in the warm days of May, you can bring the box out to warm and hopefully your specimen will have survived, escaped the pupa, dug its way to the surface, and transformed into the beautiful adult moth. Lutz quotes Kellogg’s description of the adult as being “a rich brown groundcolor on bod and hind wings, with the fore wings slaty gray with yellow blotches, and veins broadly marked out in red-brown. If you are successful, please send a photo of the adult.