Subject: caterpillar cluster
Geographic location of the bug: raleigh, nc
Time: 12:11 PM EDT
what in the world is this? do we leave them, feed them to our chickens, or what?
How you want your letter signed: carrie
Though the insects in your image resemble Caterpillars, they are actually Sawfly larvae. Sawflies are non-stinging relatives of Wasps and Bees that have larvae that frequently resemble Caterpillars. Thankfully your image quality was of a high enough resolution that we were able to crop more closely to help identify these Red Headed Pine Sawfly Larvae,Neodiprion lecontei. There is an excellent page on Featured Creatures devoted to this species where it states: “Neodiprion lecontei is an important defoliator of commercially grown pine, as the preferred feeding conditions for sawfly larvae are enhanced in monocultures of shortleaf, loblolly, and slash pine, all of which are commonly cultivated in the southern United States.” We don’t know if the Red Headed Pine Sawfly larvae are able to retain within their bodies resinous compounds from the pine that might make then unpalatable, but we imagine if they don’t taste good, the chickens won’t want to eat them.