Currently viewing the category: "Prominent Moth Caterpillars"

Mean looking caterpillar
Greetings Bugman,
I live in Tallahassee, FL and I recently found these very agressive caterpillars all over a bush in my front yard. If you prod them with something, they arch their back and lunge at whatever touches them, while simultanously regurgitating some green goop and smearing it on whatever touches them. They have 3 sets of segmented front legs which appear to have stingers protruding slightly from them, but I can’t really tell. A couple of days after I discovered them, they had all but disappeared leaving my bush in seriously bad shape. I was fortunate to have received a new digital camera just in time to get some great macro shots of the last one I could find. I’m curous to know what it is and if it can sting. If it can’t sting, it sure can put on a good bluff!
Here’s the best shot I was able to get with my macro on a tripod….love my Nikon Coolpix 4500 macro for these types of shots!!

Hi Brett,
We didn’t have to research this Prominent Moth Caterpillar for too long before we located the Azalea Caterpillar, Datana major on this Florida website. The defense posture you describe as well as depict in your awesome photograph is typical of the entire Datana genus.

Hi, I spotted this caterpillar and was wondering if you could tell me what type it is please.
I live in Kent, in the South-East of the UK.
Alley Katt

Hi Alley Katt,
Stateside we have an identical caterpillar known as the Tentacled Prominent or Puss Moth, Cerura species. They range over most of North America. It is obviously either a very close relative you have or an introduced species. When disturbed, this caterpillar extends whiplike filaments from each of the two fleshy hornlike projections at the tip of the abdomen and waves these filaments. It can eject an irritating fluid from glands on the thorax.