Currently viewing the category: "Tent Caterpillars and Kin"
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anatus formicinus eating unidentified caterpillar
Location: Toledo, OH
March 21, 2012 11:13 am
Afternoon, Bugman.
Ran in to this guy while chasing snakes (to photograph, not to harm) and didn’t have the heart to lift the wood he was on to follow my snake friend. Pretty sure it is anatus formicinus, but after half an hour of digging around I can not identify my caterpillar. Ah well, it was still a wonderful sight!
Signature: Katy

Running Crab Spider eats Caterpillar

Hi Katy,
We believe you have correctly identified this Running Crab Spider, though we are correcting the spelling of the genus name which is
Thanatus.  There are some photos of Thanatus formicinus on BugGuide that look very similar.  We believe the caterpillar is most likely a Cutworm or Noctuid Caterpillar, or possibly a relative of the Tent Caterpillars, but we haven’t the time this morning to do that research.  This is a thrilling spring Food Chain image.

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Spitfire Grub?
Location: Canberra
January 25, 2012 9:54 pm
Woud you please identify this bug, found in a dwarf snow gum on 26 January 2012 at 1100.
Signature: Bill Reid

White Stemmed Gum Moth Caterpillar

Hi Bill,
After some searching, we determined that your caterpillar is a member of the family Anthelidae.  According to the Encyclopedia of Life:  “a small family of moths restricted to Australia, New Guinea and the adjacent Aru archipelago. At present the family comprises 74 species in 8 genera described from Australia (Edwards and Fairey 1996) and 20 species from new Guinea in one endemic genus and one genus shared with Australia. However, numerous distinct species have already been identified as undescribed in museum collections such as the Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC).”  Some taxonomists consider them to be closely related to the Lappet Moths and Tent Caterpillars.  We eventually identified your caterpillar as
Chelepteryx collesi, the White Stemmed Gum Moth on the Butterfly House website where we learned that “This Caterpillar is a great hazard to people climbing Gum trees. Scattered over its skin are tufts of long stiff reddish hairs, which are strong enough to penetrate human skin. When they do, they are very painful, and difficult to remove because they are barbed and brittle.”  Another bit of information from Butterfly House is:  “It is also one of the largest Caterpillars in Australia, growing in length to about 12 cms. Some trees where they may be found most years in Leichhardt are known by local school-children as ‘sausage trees’ because the Caterpillars look from the ground like sausages growing in the trees.”

Hi Daniel
Thank you so much for this information.  I have many friends here and overseas that are interested.
A great service that you provide.
Best wishes
Bill Reid

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Ed. Note: Please use our official submission form for every photo sent to our website.  The form has the disclaimer about our right to publish your letters and images.  We learned about 8 hours after this image was published that it was not submitted by the photographer.  Since we have no entomologists on staff, many of the images we receive need to be researched.  We are very reluctant to spend valuable time researching the identity of creatures that we will not be able to publish photos of on our site.  We have countless images available to the web browsing public because so many of our readers now have access to wonderful cameras (and cellular telephones that take pretty good photos as well) and we are thrilled to be able to compile them in a haphazardly organized fashion in our voluminous archives.  Though our writing staff tries its best to be bright, witty and charming, we realize that most web browsers want nice images to accompany the information they are trying to research.

Vermont caterpillar??
Hi Daniel,
Wondering if you can tell me what this caterpillar will turn into!!
Thanks, KT
PS…. I had 3 Luna Moths visit me this week, and got some really good pix. Let me know if you’d like any….

Forest Tent Caterpillar

Dear KT,
This is a Forest Tent Caterpillar,
Malacosoma disstria, and it is found throughout North America including Canada, but it is more common east of the Mississippi River according to BugGuide, where the life cycle is described as:  “One generation per year; larvae spin silken mats on tree trunks and large branches where they congregate to molt or rest from feeding; larvae also deposit silk in strands along which they travel to and from feeding sites; overwinters as larva in masses surrounding tree branches. (Unlike Eastern Tent Caterpillar, this species does not form silken tents.)”.We have no shortage of Luna Moths this year, and we are much happier to have received this particular photo because we promote the diversity of insect life on our website.

Hi again, Daniel,
I was thinking more about the photo, and I can’t imagine my friend will mind that it’s on your site. I took it from her Facebook page, so in a sense, it’s already “public”. I did write to her and sent her your reply to my question. I’m sure she’ll be happy to have the identification.
Go ahead and leave it up on your site, but can you please give photo credit to Jane A. Lindholm? That would be great. I’ll write again if there are any objections on her part.

Hey Daniel,
Just wanted to let you know that Jane wrote to me from Wales. She’s totally fine with her photo being on your site, and was thrilled to DISCOVER your site and to find out what that caterpillar is.
All’s good!
Cool photo of a Cecropia moth my friend Joanne took tonight here in SE Vermont! If by any chance you want to use it, I’ll have her submit it the correct way!

UPDATE:  August 18, 2011
Use of pic for Illinois FFA Forestry contest
August 18, 2011 2:26 pm
Dear Whats That Bug, I am looking for permission to use a few images for use in a FFA forestry contest. The image would be printed once, laminated and used for the contest and for educational purposes only. The pics that I would like to use are at the following url.
Date of the contest is September 20, 2011.
Since the site made me place a pic in the image place, I did! Some sort of flocked insect taken last year while pruning a walnut plantation.
Thank you,
Jim Kirkland
Interim Director
University of Illinois
Illinois Forest Resource Center
Signature: Jim Kirkland

Mating Periodical Cicadas

Dear Jim Kirkland,
Please explain how the photo will be used.  It obviously cannot be entered in the contest by anyone but Jane who took the photo.  The photo you attached depicts mating Periodical Cicadas.

Dear Daniel,
The photo (wp-content/uploads/2011/06/forest_tent_caterpillar_kt.jpg ) would be printed on a  letter sized piece of paper, laminated and used as one of ten questions on a high school FFA forestry contest.  The portion of the test is titled Tree/Forest Disorders, the national FFA (Future Farmers of America) organization is the organizer of this event.   The students would have to identify the insect pest out of a list.  I was not looking to get my mating cicadas identified.  The web interface that your site uses would not let me send the question without downloading something.  However, how about checking out the flocked insect I have loaded up today.
Thank you,
Jim Kirkland
University of Illinois
Illinois Forest Resource Center

You have our permission to use the image of that purpose.  Here is a higher resolution file.


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Seen on the trail in HK …
Location: Hong Kong
April 28, 2011 8:25 pm
Trying to determine the name of this bug seen on a trail in HK …
Signature: Andy

Lappet Moth Caterpillar, we believe

Hi Andy,
This sure resembles the Caterpillar of the American Lappet Moth,
Phyllodesma americana, so we suspect it is an Asian relative.  We recently posted a photo of an American Lappet Moth Caterpillar, and you can also see some images on BugGuide.  When we have more time, we will try to track down an exact species for you.

Karl tracks down the species
Hi Daniel and Andy:
Good call Daniel – it looks like the Lappet Moth (Lasiocampidae) Kunugia divaricata. There are a number of good photos on Flickr. Regards.  Karl

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

what kinda Caterpillar is this?
Location: Lincoln, Alabama
April 16, 2011 5:41 pm
what kinda Caterpillar is this? found
4-16-11 in a bush!
Signature: what does that mean? my names hannah?

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Dear Hannah,
This is an Eastern Tent Caterpillar,
Malacosoma americanum.  We located a nice web page on the biology of the Eastern Tent Caterpillar which includes this information about the tent:  “The tent of the eastern tent caterpillar is among the largest built by any tent caterpillar. The tents are constructed in the crotch of the host tree and are typically oriented so that the broadest face of the structure faces the southeast, taking advantage of the morning sun.  The caterpillars typically add silk to the structure at the onset of each of their daily activity periods.  Silk is added directly to the surface of the tent as the caterpillars walk back and forth over the surface of the structure.The silk is laid down under slight tension and it eventually contacts, causing the newly spun layer of silk to separate from the previously spun layer.  The tent thus consists of discrete layers separated by gaps within which the caterpillars rest.
The tent has openings that allow the caterpillars to enter and exit the structure.  Openings are formed where branches jut from the structure but are most common at the apex of the tent.  Light has a great effect on the caterpillars while they are spinning and they always spin the majority of their silk on the most illuminated face of the tent.  Indeed, if under laboratory conditions the dominant light source is directed at the tent from below, the caterpillars will build their tent upside down.  Caterpillars continue to expand their tent until they enter the last phase of their larval life.  The sixth-instar caterpillar conserves its silk for cocoon construction and adds nothing to the tent.
The tents appears multifunctional.  They facilitate basking, offer some protection from enemies, provide for secure purchase, and act as a staging site from which the caterpillars launch en masse forays to distant feeding sites. The elevated humidity inside the tent  may facilitate molting.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Caterpillar Mystery
Location: Central Texas (Ft. Hood)
April 9, 2011 8:34 pm
I found this caterpillar on a low growing oak species in central Texas.
Any idea what it could be?
Signature: writerwren

Tolype Caterpillar

Dear writerwren,
We are not having any luck trying to identify this caterpillar.  It appears that it may have stinging spines.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide an identification.

Update:  January 3, 2016
Thanks to a recent comment, we are inclined to agree that this looks like a Tolype Caterpillar which is pictured on BugGuide.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination