Subject: Caterpillar eating blueberry bush
Geographic location of the bug: Wales, Maine
Time: 10:18 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hello, Can you tell me what this caterpillar is? I do not want it to eat the blueberry bushes but I don’t want to kill them either.
How you want your letter signed: Amy
These are Red Humped Caterpillars, Schizura concinna, and according to BugGuide: “Larvae feed on a wide range of woody plants, from many different families” so it should be an easy matter to relocate the caterpillars, but alas, BugGuide did not provide a list of any particular preferred food plants. According to the University of California Pest Management System: “This pest most commonly chews leaves of liquidambar (sweet gum), plum, and walnut. It also feeds on almond, apple, apricot, birch, cherry, cottonwood, pear, prune, redbud, willow, and other deciduous trees and shrubs.” The site also states: “Young caterpillars commonly feed side-by-side in groups, chewing on the lower leaf surface. As the larvae grow, they tend to disperse and feed in smaller groups or individually. Skeletonized leaves are a common result, as the older caterpillars chew all the way through and consume leaves, leaving only the larger, tough veins. Unlike certain other caterpillars that may feed on the same hosts, redhumped caterpillars do not tie leaves with webbing or leave silk strands on foliage; the exception is when silk-covered pupae occur on leaves. When their abundance is low, larvae eat leaves on only a few branch terminals. Occasionally, heavy infestations develop and defoliate entire trees during the summer. Usually only scattered individual and young trees are severely defoliated. If severely defoliated, trees that are otherwise healthy usually recover.”