Currently viewing the category: "Silkworms"

What kind is it?
Just wanted to know what kind of caterpillar this is. I live in Harford Co., Maryland. My husband found it on a green Japanese maple tree. It had already eaten a few limbs. Not sure if its a moth or butterfly. Thanks,
Debbie

Hi Debbie,
The spines of the Io Moth, Automeris io, caterpillar are mildly poisonous. It is easily recognized because of the red and white stripes. The adult moths have eyespots on their underwings. They are small Silkworm moths, the male with yellow upper wings and female with brownish upper wings. They are sometimes found on corn and other garden crops.

I found a weird bug today in my dads car
Hello Bugman,
My name is Jimmy, today I found this wierd type of caterpillar my dad thought it was a tomato bug. We didn’t know. We researched your website but we couldn’t find it at all. Can you please help me. I don’t know if it was poisonous or not so i used a kleenex to pic it up and there was this slik like substance behind it when it walked. Can you tell me which is his head and which is his butt?
Thank You
Jimmy Brickner
Strongsville, Ohio

Hi Jimmy,
The reason you could not find your caterpillar on our website is because we only post photos that readers send in. You are the first person to send in a photo of a Cecropia Moth Caterpillar, Samia Cecropia. This is the largest North American Moth, and its wingspan reaches six inches across. It is a member of the Giant Silkworm family Saturnidae, and as adults, the moths do not feed. Your caterpillar looks nearly mature. They eat leaves from cherry , maple, willow and other trees. Try keeping the caterpillar in a well ventilated box with fresh leaves. I am guessing that since it was in your dad’s car, it was looking for a place to pupate. The cocoon is usually spun on a branch. It will overwinter as a cocoon and emerge as a grown moth in the spring. Thank you for the photo. They are not poisonour. The head end has the orange tubercles. In your photo, it is on the left.

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.

WOW! THANKS FOR THE QUICK RESPONSE..WE WILL DO OUR BEST TO KEEP IT ALIVE!

I found this bug out in my yard this morning. It was near my tomato plants. It is a very odd looking thing. If you know what it is could you tell me if it is poisonous. It was thrashing around when I tried to pick it up. It reminded me of a snake. I have small dogs and was scared that they may try to eat it. They try to eat grub worms and I am afraid that they will make them sick. Thanks for your time.
Teresa Causey
Chavies, Kentucky

Dear Teresa,
I’m happy your photo arrived. We just received another siting from a young man who found one in his jeep, but there was no photo, only a verbal description. It is a Hicory Horned Devil, the largest North American caterpillar. It is the larva of the Royal (or Regal) Walnut Moth, Citheronia regalis. The forewings of the moth are olive colored with yellow spots and red veins. The hing wings are orange-red potted with yellow and the body is reddish brown with yellow bands. It is a beautiful moth. The caterpillars, though fearful in appearance, are harmless. They feed principally on Hickory, Walnut and Persimmon.
Ed. note: See next letter

Hi,
My son came in with a huge green caterpillar with big orange horns last night. It was probably 5-6 inches long and 3/4 inch thick. It extended across his hand. Looked like one of those chinese dragons.
He had been out in his jeep earlier and thought some how it had gotten in the car, for later when he was standing by the car, it crawled across his foot. We have never seen anything like it. Do you have any ideas?
Thank you, J.Hansel

Dear J.
It is the caterpillar of the Royal Walnut Moth,Citheronia regalis, which has the largest caterpillar in North America. The caterpillar, which your son found goes by the common name of Hickory Horned Devil. Please send a photo, we would love to have it. The moth is also quite beautiful. It has olive colored upper wings with red veins and yellow spots, orange red hind wings with yellow spots, and a reddish body with yellow bands.

Thank you for the quick answer. We took it to the zoo and found out you are correct. Such a thrill to see it. A couple of years ago I had a similar thrill I could share with the grandchildren. I captured a huge moth that was a big as my husbands hand. It was a soft tan color with pink designs in the wings. When I let it fly it looked like a bird going over the house. I remember looking it up but I forgot what I found . I feel the Lord truly blesses us when we see these things up close in their own environment. You know that you will never have the same experience again. Thank you for your help, Judy Hansel
P.S. I did get pictures with my new digital camera. When I learn how to send it I will send you the picture.

I’m glad we could be helpful Judy,
Don’t forget to send the photos when you have a chance. We would love to post one with your letter. The moth you found years ago is a member of the family Saturnidae, the giant silk moths. Based on your color description, I would guess probably an Ailanthus Silk Moth, though it could also be a Cecropia.