Currently viewing the category: "Snout Moth Caterpillars"

Subject: Caterpillar ID
Location: Las Vegas NV, Mojave Desert
November 6, 2014 4:48 pm
Found about 20 of these caterpillars on a Sweet Broom bush in my yard on November 5, 2014. Please help with ID I am stumped
Signature: P Shaw

Sophora Worm

Sophora Worm

Dear P Shaw,
This is a Sophora Worm or Genista Broom Moth Caterpillar.  They feed on broom and related plants

Subject: Catapillar invasion

Location: Pacifica CA
October 26, 2014 2:42 pm
I have been invaded by hundreds of these catapillars around the outside of my house … Can you please give me some info on these critters – thanks !
Signature: Gina

Genista Broom Caterpillar

Sophora Worm

Hi Gina,
Your caterpillar is known as a Sophora Worm, the larval form of the Genista Broom Moth,
Uresiphita reversalis, and you can verify our identification by viewing this matching image on BugGuideAccording to Bugguide:  “‘Sophora Worm’ is reference to the native host genus: Sophora.  ‘Genista Broom Moth’ is an odd common name for a native North American moth as Genista (common name of ‘broom’) is an Old World genus, family Fabaceae.”  BugGuide also notes:  “Larvae feed on Acacia, Baptisia, Genista, Lupinus, Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) and other pea family shrubs. Also reported on Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) and honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.)” so we are speculating that one of those plants might be growing in your yard.

Subject:  Caterpillars defoliate Golden Chain Tree
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Saturday, June 28, 2014 2:33 PM
Several years ago, Mom gave us some tiny seedlings from the Golden Chain Tree,
Laburnum anagyroides, that she has growing in her yard in Ohio.  See GoBotany for images of the Golden Chain Tree.  Well, for many years they have languished, growing very slowly.  Earlier in the week, we noticed brown leaves on the largest one, now grown to about four feet in height.  Caterpillars were feeding on the leaves, skeletonizing them, and spinning loose webs.  We suspect this is some caterpillar in the Ermine Moth superfamily Yponomeutidae, and we thought we might be getting close when we discovered this BugGuide posting of the Laburnum Leaf Miner Moth, Leucoptera laburnella, however our caterpillars seem too big to be Leaf Miners.

What's Eating the Golden Chain Tree???

What’s Eating the Golden Chain Tree???

Some similar looking caterpillars include these Ailanthus Webworm Caterpillars on BugGuide and these Ermine Moth Caterpillars from BugGuide.

Ermine Moth Caterpillars perhaps???

Genista Broom Moth Caterpillars

BINGO!!!  The Scenic Hills Nursery has an image of the Genista Caterpillar, Uresiphita (=Tholeria) reversalis, and according to the site, they are:  “A web producing caterpillar that attacks Texas laurel, crape myrtle, honeysuckle, and Laburnum. Larvae defoliate as well as spin webs.”  Now we realized why it looked so familiar.  We have images of the Genista Broom Moth Caterpillar in our archives and BugGuide has a substantial page devoted to it.

Caterpillars on Golden Chain Tree

Genista Broom Moth Caterpillars on Golden Chain Tree

The Genista Broom Moth Caterpillar is also called the Sophora Worm.

Write if you have an idea what these are.

Genista Broom Moth Caterpillars



Subject: orange caterpillar
Location: Lakeland, FL
February 10, 2014 12:53 pm
We found several of these crawling around on rocks. They’re very fast movers, but curl up if you touch them. They’re about 1 to 1 1/4″ long. We didn’t see them on any plants, just the rocks. We’re in Central Florida, inland and found them on 2/10/14. I’ve never seen anything like this before and after trudging through the interweb, don’t see any pics that match. As you can see in the 2nd fuzzy pic, they have black heads. He was on the move and hard to catch.
thanks for any help.
Signature: Cindy & Jim

Orange Larvae: Caterpillars or Sawflies???

Tropical Cactus Borers

Dear Cindy & Jim,
We are very rushed this morning and our initial attempts at identification did not produce any results.  We are posting your photos as unidentified and we hope to return to this later when we have more time.  Meanwhile, perhaps one of our readers wants to take up the challenge.  We are not certain if these are caterpillars or Sawfly Larvae.

Sawfly Larva or Caterpillar???

Tropical Cactus Borer

Thanks for your quick reply. We’ve never seen anything like it.

Considering your Florida location, this could easily be a new exotic import from a faraway land.

I was afraid of that. I feel like we should go hunt them down and hold on to them until we know what they are. We have too many exotics here.

Update:  August 13, 2018
Carpenter Moth Caterpillar
Because of a new query we just received that we are researching, we now believe both this and an additional posting in our archives are Carpenter Moth larvae in the family Cossidae, but we are uncertain of the species since the larvae do not look like any posted to BugGuide., but they do resemble what has tentatively been identified as the Carpenter Moth Caterpillar Macrocassus toluminus from South Africa.

Update:  Tropical Cactus Borers
Ed. Note: 
The following is a comment from Cesar Crash.
Those look like Lepidoptera. Found on a cactus garden, may be the cactus moth: aka Tropical Cactus Borer

Thanks so much Cesar.  The mystery is finally solved.  Here is a nice BugGuide image of the caterpillar.  According to BugGuide:  “Imported to the Caribbean to control prickly pear cacti; arrived in the U.S. naturally or in cargo imported from the Caribbean (Johnson and Stiling 1998). Widely dist. in southern FL, spreading east along the Gulf Coast to New Orleans and north along the Atlantic Coast to SC.”  BugGuide also has this interesting statement:  “The moth has become a pest in se US.   This South American moth was introduced into Australia to control cacti, which are not native to that continent and which were becoming a very serious pest. It was so successful that memorials and monuments to it have been erected by grateful citizens there.”

Subject: caterpillar
Location: Bay area
January 8, 2013 1:12 pm
hi buggy
Tons of caterpillars on a flowering bush in Bay area. Has formed nests or webs. thanks for your help I donated $10.00 on paypal.
Signature: Tom

Sophora Worm

Hi Tom,
Thank you for your generous donation.  We don’t like to think that we devote additional time to the identifying submissions if someone has donated to the site, and generally we don’t even know that they have donated.  In light of your extremely generous donation, we have been obsessed with trying to identify your caterpillar.  We are happy you mentioned that the caterpillars formed webs, as that was very helpful.  Knowing the plant upon which the caterpillar or other insect is feeding is usually a tremendous advantage when it comes to identification.  Though we recognized this caterpillar as something we had somewhere in our archives, with nearly 16,000 posts, it is sometimes very difficult for us to find old postings when we cannot remember the name.  We found a match to your caterpillar on the Yard and Garden News of the University of Minnesota Extension website and it was identified as a Genista Broom Moth caterpillar,
Uresiphita reversalis.  The site states:  “An interesting caterpillar has been found apparently for the first time in Minnesota in several areas of the state. A genista broom moth caterpillar, Uresiphita reversalis, is about one inch long when fully grown. It’s a pretty insect with a black head with white markings and a slender yellowish green or mustard colored body. There is a series of black and white colored tubercles (raised spots) running down its body with white hairs coming out of them.  When gardeners have discovered this insect in Minnesota, it has been feeding on false indigo, Baptisia. According to BugGuide this caterpillar has also been reported to feed on “Acacia, Genista, Lupinus, Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) and other pea family shrubs as well as Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) and honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.).”  According to BugGuide, the caterpillar is called a Sophora Worm and this excellent explanation of the common names is provided:  “‘Sophora Worm’ is reference to the native host genus: Sophora.  ‘Genista Broom Moth’ is an odd common name for a native North American moth as Genista (common name of “broom”) is an Old World genus, family Fabaceae.   Numerous species of broom have been introduced into North America, some of which have become noxious invasives such as common broom (Cytisus scoparius), French broom (Genista monspessulana) and Spanish broom (Spartium junceum).”  Once we had the name and family, it was easy enough to locate our own 2005 archival image of a Genista Broom Moth Caterpillar.

hi Daniel
Thank you so much. I think you are too humble! $5 (what the default was for Paypal) is very inexpensive for the service! Don’t sell yourself short. I think there might be a little business in there if you develop the website with a simple drop down menu questionnaire e.g. tents, no tents, geographic area, etc , include picture and ask for $5.
Thanks so much again.
Tom Barnett

beautiful caterpillars destroying my collards
Location: Washington, DC
September 4, 2011 5:38 pm
I love your site! I found these beauties chowing down on my collard plants in early September in Washington, DC, and I have yet to identify them. They’re about an inch long and didn’t appear hairy until I expanded the photos. They have a black and white pattern on top, bordered by yellow which then turns to green on the bottom. Reddish-brown head. Maybe a type of skipper?
Signature: Rachel

Cross Striped Cabbageworms

Hi Rachel,
We have been trying all manner of web searching options to try to identify your caterpillars, which looked vaguely familiar to us, but we could not recall their identity.  Finally an image search of “collard eating caterpillar” turned up (numerous pages into the search) an image that matched your photo.  It is on the BellaOnLine forum under “What is Eating my Brussels Sprouts?”, and it was identified as the Cross Striped Cabbageworm,
Evergestis rimosalis, by Lisa Shea.  We double checked that on BugGuide and learned that the identification was correct and we have now created a new caterpillar sub-sub-category of Snout Moth Caterpillars to house this posting.  Since this caterpillar looked familiar to us, we suspect we may have an unidentified posting somewhere in our archive.

Wow – thanks so much! It’s interesting that such a beautiful caterpiller grows up to be a rather plain moth.