Currently viewing the category: "Caterpillars and Pupa"
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The unknown hornworm is Xylophanes tersa, a fairly common worm on Penta. This, courtesy of Dr. John Jackman at Texas A&M University. Here’s a link:

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My daughter found these cocoon like pods next door to my house. There where many pods (15 in all) around the pine tree and on the pine tree that looked very natural. I’m unable to tell her what they are. Can you please help in identifying the ponds.
Brooklyn N.Y.
Michael Caputo & Kids

Dear Michael,
You have Bagworms, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis. They are common but rarely become serious pests. According to The Golden Guide Insect book, "their history is strange. The wingless and legless female, after mating, crawls back into her ‘bag’ and lays hundreds of yellow eggs, which hatch in spring. The young larvae feed on leaves of many kinds of trees, building their conical bags as they feed. Later they bind their bags to twigs (or in your case the brick wall) and pupate. The male emerges, seeks the female, and mates." We have a Bagworm page with additional information.

Dear What’s That Bug,
My girlfriend and I are stumped on identifying a bug, or more accurately, a cocoon that has latched on to the outside of her home in central Texas. 3 weeks ago this creature was partially out of its shell, and dragging this strange looking cocoon along with him. He then preceded to pull himself up a brick wall, and has been there without sign of life for 3 weeks now.
Can you help identify this strange looking creature?

Dear Mister Chris,
I appologize for the delay in your answer, but the photo was lost in the bowels of American Homebody while America’s Sweetheart was in Miami. I just received the image. You have a bagworm, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis. The exact composition of the bag is dependant upon the host plant which can be any number of deciduous trees as well as the preferred coniferous trees. Juniper is a particular favorite. I have located some information on for you. Bagworms feed on shade, orchard, and forest trees of nearly every kind, as well as many ornamental shrubs and perennials. Severe attacks are unusual. Since deciduous plants grow new leaves, damage to them is usually not serious. The growth of small or newly planted trees, however, could be slowed by leaf feeding. Newly hatched larvae begin to spin silken bags around themselves shortly after hatching. The first evidence of infestation is the presence of 1/4 inch bags which are carried almost on end by the young caterpillars inside. As larvae grow, leaf fragments are added to the bag, which may reach a length of 2 inches by the end of summer. The adult female moth is wingless and never leaves the bag. Adult males are small, grey moths with clear wings. Bagworms overwinter in the egg stage inside female bags fastened to twigs. Eggs hatch in late May and early June, and larvae feed until late August or early September. Males emerge in September and mate with females through the bag entrance. You can also check out this website which has some great photos of the bagworm.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Thank goodness for your web site. I have been looking 4 info on this thing 4 days. I live in N Indiana. Not having lived here for long… I was totally freaked when my daughter and her friend brought home "diffy" (as they named him). I took him all over the neighborhood questioning my neighbors. None of them had ever seen one before. My daughter brought it to school…no one had any info. So, thank you so much for the info that you provide! We had had him for a few days now and he seems not to be faring to well. Should I try and cover him w/ dirt and see if he coocoons??
Thanks so much!!!!

Give it a shot Sharon. Good luck. He would probably be getting sluggish before pupating anyways. He does not form a cocoon, but a naked pupa.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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.


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Strange Creature
My husband found this strange creature crawling on our truck under an oak tree. Is it some kind of larva camouflaged as a leaf? It was almost slug-like on its underside (but didn’t seem to be leaving a slimy trail) and had a very strong suction hold to the glass jar I had put it in. It was about 3/4″ in length. The “leaf” part appeared to be very soft/velvety. We live in SE Virginia. Can you help us identify this?

Dear Michelle,
Sometimes called the monkey slug, the full-grown hag moth (Phobetron pithecium) caterpillar is brown, 0.5 inch long, and has nine lateral lobes or processes with urticating (stinging) hairs. Some of these lobes protruding from the sides of the body are longer than others and are occasionally shed. Hag moths caterpillars are present in summer and fall. They produce one generation per year. Host plants include various forest trees and shrubs.
“Phobetron pithecium is called the Hag Moth because the dark brown larva has eight relatively long, fleshy, hairy appendages that cover the back, project from the sides and have a backward twist like locks of disheveled hair. They are, in fact, fleshy hooks covered with feathery, brown hairs among which are longer, black, stinging hairs. the cocoon is almost spherical and is defended by the hairy appendages that the larva in some way contrives to leave on the outside. These tufts give to the bullet-shaped cocoon a nondescript appearance and the stinging hairs afford a very perfect protection against birds and other vertebrates. The adults fly in midsummer. The female is brownish marked with yellow; the male is smaller.” according to Lutz.
Here is a great site with more information on stinging caterpillars.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination