Exploring the Mysteries of Lappet Moths: What You Need to Know

Lappet moths are fascinating creatures belonging to the family Lasiocampidae. They are medium-sized and possess thick, long scales giving them a furry appearance. These moths can be found in various shades of brown, tan, or gray and have markings to help them blend in with natural surfaces like tree bark.

As nocturnal insects, lappet moths become active during night time, and both males and females have feathery antennae. Their caterpillars are covered in hair, a feature that inspired the family name Lasiocampidae, derived from Greek words meaning “hairy” and “caterpillar”.

A great example of a Lappet moth is the American Lappet Moth (Phyllodesma americana), which has bands on its wings that mimic the appearance of leaves. This serves as an effective camouflage to keep them safe from predators.

Lappet Moth Classification

Lappet moths belong to the Order Lepidoptera and are part of the Family Lasiocampidae. These moths are known for their unique features and camouflage abilities.

Key features of Lappet moths:

  • Medium-sized
  • Furry appearance
  • Camouflage markings
  • Feathery antennae

One well-known example is the Phyllodesma americana, also known as the American Lappet Moth. This species can be found in various regions across North America.

Comparison of Lappet Moths with other moths

Lappet Moths (Family Lasiocampidae) Typical Moths (Order Lepidoptera)
Medium-sized Varies in size
Thick, long scales for a furry look May or may not have scales
Camouflage markings Various markings
Feathery antennae Smooth or feathery antennae
Leaf-mimicking wings Diverse wing patterns

The order Lepidoptera includes various moth and butterfly families, with Lasiocampidae being just one of many. However, the distinct features of Lappet moths make them a standout within this larger classification.

Physical Characteristics

Size and Color

Lappet moths are medium-sized insects with thick, long scales that give them a furry appearance. Most of these moths display shades of brown, tan, or gray, which help them blend in with tree bark and other natural surfaces. The abdomen generally extends past the tips of the wings when they are folded back over the body.

Wings and Wing Pattern

Lappet moths have distinct wings characterized by:

  • Forewings: These wings typically have camouflage markings and bands that mimic the appearance of leaves.
  • Hind wings: Usually shaded with black along the inner edge and spots near the outer tip.

The wingspan of these moths can vary, but they are generally medium-sized.

Caterpillar Features

The caterpillars of lappet moths are known for their unique features:

  • Hairy appearance: Lappet moth caterpillars are covered in hair-like structures called setae, which may be used for protection.
  • Lappet extensions: These caterpillars have fleshy lappet extensions on their body segments, which is where their common name comes from.
  • Snout-like protrusion: Some lappet moth caterpillars, also called snout moths, have a snout-like protrusion on their head, making them easily identifiable.
Feature Lappet Moth Snout Moth
Adult wingspan Medium-sized Medium-sized
Color Brown, tan, or gray Brown, tan, or gray
Wing pattern Camouflage, leaf-like Similar to Lappet Moth
Caterpillar hair Present Present
Snout-like protrusion Absent Present

Overall, lappet moths and snout moths share many physical characteristics that help them blend in with their environment, both as adults and caterpillars.

Distribution and Habitat

The Lappet Moth (Phyllodesma americana) is found across North America, from Canada to Mexico.

In Canada, they inhabit areas like Nova Scotia and the Yukon. In the United States, their range includes Texas, California, and Georgia.

Here are some key characteristics of their habitat:

  • Forests, woodland edges, and shrublands
  • Presence of host plants for caterpillar stage
  • Nocturnal environments with nectar-rich flowers for adult moths

Moths in general are known for their adaptability, capable of flourishing in various climates. Lappet Moths are no exception, found in both temperate and arctic regions.

Examples of host plants commonly used by Lappet Moth caterpillars:

  • Poplar
  • Willow
  • Alder
  • Birch

Comparison of two Lappet Moths’ habitats:

Habitat Feature Northern Lappet Moth (Canada) Southern Lappet Moth (Mexico)
Geographic Location Nova Scotia, Yukon Texas, California, Georgia
Primary Plant Hosts Poplar, Willow Birch, Alder
Climate Temperate to Arctic Temperate to Warm

Life Cycle and Behavior

Reproduction

Lappet moth females lay their eggs on host plant leaves, usually during May to August. After hatching, the larvae feed and grow through several instars before pupating. The pupal stage generally occurs in leaf litter or bark crevices. Most lappet moth species have one generation per year, and some overwinter as eggs or pupae.

Feeding and Diet

Lappet moth larvae have specialized mouthparts for feeding on leaves. They mainly feed on deciduous trees like oak, poplar, birch, alder, willow, and rose. Some well-known lappet moth species include the eastern tent caterpillar and the large tolype. The feeding habits of these caterpillars can vary based on the species and host plants.

Larval host plants:

  • Oak
  • Poplar
  • Birch
  • Alder
  • Rose
  • Willow

Seasonal Activity

Adult lappet moths are typically active during warmer months and can be seen flying at night. They have evolved camouflage markings to blend in with their surroundings for protection. The larvae are also active during this time, feeding on leaves and growing through their instars.

Comparison of Eastern Tent Caterpillar and Large Tolype:

Feature Eastern Tent Caterpillar Large Tolype
Color Brown with white stripes Grayish-brown
Feeding Habits Constructs silk tents on branches; feeds on various trees Solitary feeder on trees and shrubs
Overwintering Stage Egg Pupa

In summary, lappet moths have a distinct life cycle involving egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages. Their feeding habits, host plant preferences, and seasonal activities vary based on the species. With a focus on staying camouflaged, lappet moths are fascinating creatures to observe and study.

Lappet Moth Species

American Lappet Moth

The American Lappet Moth, also known as Phyllodesma americana, belongs to the family Lasiocampidae. This species is known for:

  • Medium size
  • Mimicking leaves
  • Bands on their wings

The American Lappet Moth is distinguished by its hairy appearance and leaf-like bands on its wings, making them blend with their natural environment.

Phyllodesma Coturnix

Phyllodesma Coturnix, a close relative of Phyllodesma americana, shares many features with the American Lappet Moth, such as:

  • Hairy appearance
  • Leaf-mimicking bands

The main difference between the two species is their range, with Phyllodesma Coturnix primarily found in western regions.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth belongs to the Artace and Malacosoma genera. Key features include:

  • Medium size
  • Exquisitely designed camouflage
  • Feathery antennae

This moth becomes a tent caterpillar during its larval stage, and builds silk tents on trees for protection.

Other Notable Species

There are numerous Lappet Moth species, with different features, such as:

  • Flat bodies to blend with bark
  • Flared wings to mimic leaves
  • Unique color patterns for camouflage

Comparison Table

Species Scientific Name Region Unique Features
American Lappet Moth Phyllodesma americana North America Leaf-mimicking bands
Phyllodesma Coturnix Phyllodesma coturnix Western regions Similar to American Lappet Moth
Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth Artace, Malacosoma Eastern regions Silk tent building

Interaction with Host Plants and Predators

The Lappet Moth is a type of insect known for its interesting relationship with host plants and predators. They are considered as pests, mainly affecting trees and shrubs.

Host Plants

Lappet Moth caterpillars are found feeding on leaves of various trees, such as ash and buckthorn. Some examples of host plants include:

  • Ash trees (Fraxinus species)
  • Buckthorn (Rhamnus species)

These caterpillars cause noticeable damage to host plants by consuming their leaves, which can weaken the tree.

Predators

Lappet Moths and their caterpillars have various natural enemies. Typical predators include:

  • Birds
  • Parasitoid wasps
  • Robber flies

Robber flies, for instance, are known to grab their prey in midair and inject it with neurotoxic saliva, immobilizing it before consumption.

Comparison Table

Host Plants Predators Interaction
Ash Trees (Fraxinus species) Birds Feeding on leaves causing damage
Buckthorn (Rhamnus species) Parasitoid wasps Caterpillars fed upon
Robber flies Immobilization and consumption

Unique Features and Identification

Lappet moths are known for their distinct features, aiding in their identification. Here are some key characteristics:

  • Antennae: Often feathery or saw-edged
  • Lappets: Presence of these hair-like projections on the thorax
  • Sexual dimorphism: Males and females display different traits
  • Hindwings: Broad and well-developed
  • Flight pattern: Slow, erratic movements

One example of a lappet moth is the Tolype species. Notable features of Tolype moths include:

  • Trapezoidal-shaped wings
  • Gray or tan colors
  • Camouflage markings

Comparing the common lappet moth to other moths can help with identification:

Feature Lappet Moth Other Moths
Antennae Feathery or saw-edged Varies
Lappets Present Rarely present
Sexual dimorphism Common Less common
Hindwings Broad, well-developed Can be narrow or reduced
Flight pattern Slow, erratic Varies, may be fast or straight

In summary, lappet moths have distinct features, allowing them to be easily distinguished from other moths. Knowing these features such as feathery antennae, the presence of lappets, and their unique flight pattern can aid in identifying different species of lappet moths.

Fun Facts and Trivia

Lappet moths are known for their unique appearance, with some species displaying colorful patterns. For example, the forest tent caterpillar exhibits a pale blue hue with white spots, while American lappet moths have complex patterns on their wings in shades of brown, gray, and tan (source).

  • Attracted to light: Like many moths, lappet moths are often attracted to light. This behavior could be linked to navigation using moonlight.
  • Pheromones: Lappet moths release pheromones to communicate with potential mates. These chemical signals help them find companions during their short adult lifespan.

Host trees play a crucial role in the lives of lappet moths. Some common host trees include:

  • Ash
  • Silk

Lappet moths have several distinct features:

  • Feathery antennae: One of the easiest ways to identify a lappet moth is by its characteristic feathery or saw-edged antennae (source).
  • Stick out: The abdomen of these moths generally extends past the wingtips when they’re at rest.

Lappet moths belong to the family Lasiocampidae, which also includes eastern tent caterpillar moth, eggar moths, and the P. coturnix species (source). Each species has unique traits:

Species Characteristics
Eastern tent caterpillar moth Constructs tent-like structures with silk
American lappet moths Mimics leaves with bands on wings
Eggar moths Forms tough cocoons using silk
P. coturnix Known for distinctive wing patterns and colors

In conclusion, lappet moths are fascinating insects with intriguing features, including their feathery antennae, unique patterns, and their attraction to light.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – American Lappet Moth Caterpillar

 

Mystery Caterpillar
Location: Central Texas (Ft Hood Area)
April 9, 2011 8:14 pm
Hello,
I’m a field biologist working in central Texas and I stumble upon a lot of caterpillars during my work.
I found this particular one on a low growing oak species, possibly Shin Oak.
I was wondering if you might know what it is?
Thanks!
Signature: writerwren

American Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear writerwren,
We took a gamble and did a web search for “caterpillar red stripes” and we quickly identified your American Lappet Moth Caterpillar,
Phyllodesma americana, on BugGuide which states:  “Larva: body with blue, black/gray, white, and orange on the back, and densely hairy lobes (lappets) along sides; top of eighth abdominal segment with unpaired hump; when stretched out or alarmed, exposes bright orange band across top of second and third thoracic segments.”  Here is an image on BugGuide that shows the two red stripes.

Letter 2 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar from South Africa

 

Subject: caterpillar south africa
Location: south africa
June 3, 2017 7:47 am
Hi there – A lone caterpillar; Daytime; May (autumn or fall); Sand Forest in Zululand;
Signature: pete s

Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Pete,
We were not aware that modern cameras produced such low resolution images.  This is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae, and we found a matching image on iSpot, but it is only identified to the family level.  We are post-dating your submission to go live to our site later in the month when our editorial staff will be out of the office on holiday.

Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Letter 3 – Tragedy Averted: Lappet Moth Caterpillar stings girl in South Africa

 

Subject:  Caterpillar poisened little girl. URGENT HELP PLEASE!!
Geographic location of the bug:  Manguzi, Kwa Zulu Natak, South Africa
Date: 07/09/2018
Time: 05:49 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  one of the little children in our village has made contact with this hairy large and colourful caterpillar. She’s in ICU at a local rural clinic but we urgently need to identify and then get the correct treatment. I can only email the picture, not that computer clever to attach it here but I’ll try, Can you please send me an email address and i’ll send it on?
How you want your letter signed:  Debbie

Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Debbie,
This is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae, and we verified that observation on iSpot.  We have another posting on our site of this Lappet Moth Caterpillar and we provided a link to iSpot that identified it as the Toothed Cream Spot Eggar,
Catalebeda cuneilinea, but we were never able to find additional images to support that identification.  The original link we provided is now broken, and we still cannot verify that species identity.  We located a Zoological Bulletin article that discusses urticating or stinging hairs in a Spanish Lappet Moth species, Streblote panda, and if that characteristic is present in one member of the family, it may be shared by other family members.  That article states:  “The caterpillar of S. panda is known for its urticating properties. The urticating apparatus has not been studied in detail so far; Calvo & Molina (2008) simply mention that urticating retractable organs develop beginning from the second instar and appear as mere cuticle differentia- tions in the first instar. In the present study, details of the morphological structures responsible for the urticating properties are provided for the first time.”  Krishna Mohan Photography has this to say about a different Lappet Moth caterpillar species:  “Almost all stages these caterpillar are poisonous to human beings. Their hair results in urticarial rashes. When your skin brushes against these caterpillars, the spines break off, releasing an irritating fluid that produces an immediate stinging, burning sensation. The numbness and swelling that follow may extend to your whole arm or leg in severe cases. Red blotches may persist for a couple of days, accompanied by a weeping rash. Associated lymph nodes may swell and be tender for 12 to 24 hours. Systemic reactions may include nausea and vomiting.If one affects you, treat the symptoms. To remove any spines still in the skin, gently stick a piece of adhesive tape to the site and then pull it away. Applying cold compresses can lessen the pain and swelling. Pain medications and topical corticosteroid creams may help. If the symptoms include systemic reactions consult medical help.”  Though it is a different species, that information might help with your case.  We have another Lappet Moth Caterpillar in our archives and we linked to this iSpot posting that states:  ” Urticating moth caterpillar causing skin and respiratory problems in cattle” and “Causes skin and respiratory illness in cattle, one of the reasons for burning the heathland. Urticating setae identified by specialist.”  We hope that information helps and that the “poisoned” girl soon recovers.

Dear Daniel,
I cannot thank you enough for your prompt, informative and so very reassuring reply.  We got it through to the doctors just in time.
Things work very differently here in rural Africa and the “doctors” were talking about amputating one leg below the knee!  It was shocking and frightening,  but with your assistance she’s safely making a slow recovery – without any surgery.
Believe me, it was a desperate situation and without any knowledge we were supposed to rely on their opinion. Little Palilisa has got a lot to thank you for.  Really.
Many many thanks again. You made a HUGE difference!
Debbie

Hi Debbie,
Thanks so much for writing back with your progress report.  Sitting in our office in front of the computer, we seriously doubt we ever have much impact in the world, especially since our editorial staff hasn’t any true qualifications in the world of entomology or medicine.  We are humbled that we had a positive impact on Palilisa’s life.

Letter 4 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar from Hong Kong

 

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

Letter 5 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar from Dubai

 

Subject: Mystery caterpillar
Location: Dubai UAE
November 27, 2016 10:57 pm
Hello,
Students found this caterpillar in Dubai UAE. We are having a difficult time identifying it. Do you recognize it?
Signature: Nichole and grade 3

Lappet Moth Caterpillar
Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Nichole and grade 3,
This appears to be a Lappet Moth Caterpillar from the family Lasiocampidae.  We will attempt to locate potential species in the UAE.

Letter 6 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar from Hong Kong

 

Subject: What kind of (caterpillar)?
Location: Hong Kong
May 22, 2016 7:24 am
We saw this in Hong Kong on 22 May 2016 in the woodland area by a reservoir. It looked like a caterpillar to us but we could not be sure with the strange patterned head and ‘horns’. Any insight as to what bug this may be and if it is poisonous would be very much appreciated!
Signature: Tai Tam

Lappet Moth Caterpillar
Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Tai Tam,
This is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae.  We found some matching images from China of Caterpillars in the genus
Trabala on FlickR.  Here is another FlickR image.  Some Lappet Moth Caterpillars have urticating or stinging hairs that can cause a skin reaction in sensitive people.

 

Letter 7 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar from South Africa

 

Subject: What is the exactly
Location: Pretoria south africa
July 3, 2016 3:36 am
Found this caterpillar on the bricks by my house. If I’m not mistaken some kind of lappet moth
Signature: Peter

Lappet Moth Caterpillar
Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Peter,
We agree that this is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae, and there is a matching image on iSpot, but it is only identified to the family level.  It appears like it might be the same species or a closely related species to this Indian Lappet Moth Caterpillar.

Letter 8 – Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Port Elizabeth EC
Date: 11/18/2017
Time: 01:03 AM EDT
I love thee beautiful caterpillars and move any I find onto the day Lillie’s where they thrive. What are they?
How you want your letter signed:  Claire El-Jabi

Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Claire,
Though most individuals have orange hair, we have found several examples on the internet of white haired Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillars from South Africa.  There are images of white haired individuals on FireFly Africa as well as on iSpot Nature.

Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Letter 9 – Lappet Moth from South Africa dubbed Pig Moth: Stoermeriana sp.

 

Subject: Pig moth??
Location: South Africa
April 17, 2014 6:38 am
Dear bugman
Please can you identify this moth? We are currently in fall in SA.
Thank you
Signature: minette

"Pig Moth" from South Africa
“Pig Moth” from South Africa is Lappet Moth

Dear Minette,
We don’t know what species of moth you have submitted and time will not permit our ability to research its identity at this time, but we are content dubbing it a “Pig Moth” and taking the time to format your images and request to post live.  We will enlist our readership to research this fascinating looking moth until completing our obligations allows us to return to the office to resume research.

"Pig Moth" from South Africa
“Pig Moth” from South Africa is Lappet Moth

Update:  April 19, 2014
We are relatively certain this “Pig Moth” is in the superfamily Noctuiodae, but we are still trying to establish its identity.

Update:  Comment
I took the original photos of the “pig moth” in Masvingo Zimbabwe. It has now ben identified as being Lasiocampidae: stoermeriana sp. by Johan Heyns and Roy Goff from the South African Butterflies Bugs Bees and other small animals on Facebook. A very pretty, unusual looking little moth 25 mm long.

Ed. Note:  See African Moths for an image of a living specimen from the genus and this other example from African Moths.  Armed with a family, we actually think it looks more like this Streblote aculeata that is pictured on ISpot, though that might be a misidentification.

 

Letter 10 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar from Ethiopia

 

Subject: Caterpillar ID – Ethiopia
Location: Ethiopia
February 21, 2017 2:50 am
Hi Folks
This may appear a bit of a long shot, but I’ve been trying to ID a caterpillar that I saw in Ethiopia’s Somali region in December 2015….
Any ideas what it is? The local people didn’t know it’s “English” name, but said it’s hairs were poisonous to cattle and told me not to touch it. It was about 15cm long (5-6 inches).
Signature: Thanks!

Lappet Moth Caterpillar

This sure looks to us like a Lappet Moth Caterpillar from the family Lasiocampidae, and it is our understanding that some species in the family have urticating or stinging hairs.  We did find a similar looking Lasiocampidae Caterpillar from Ethiopia identified as Thaumetopoea apologetica on iSpot where the caption states:  “Urticating moth caterpillar causing skin and respiratory problems in cattle.”  An even closer match may be the Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar, Eutricha capensis, that is pictured on Africa Wild where it states:  “Larvae congregate conspicuously on tree trunks, feeding on Acacia, white stinkwood (Celtis), bush willow (Combretum), Bauhinia and other trees in nature, and on trees such as mango, peach and the Brazilian Pepper in gardens.”  The plant it is feeding upon in your image appears to be an Acacia.  More images of the Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar can be found on Hedgie’s Nature Journal.  We cannot state for certain we have the correct species, but we are confident we have the family correct. 

Letter 11 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar, possibly Tolype

 

Subject: Unknown Caterpillar
Location: Independence MO (KCMO area)
July 3, 2015 6:52 pm
My family and I found this guy on our hosta plant leaf tonight (July 3rd). I’ve spent all night searching the internet looking for WHAT kind of caterpillar it is and have found nothing even similar! Can you please help?!?
Signature: Joey Phillips

Possibly Tolype Caterpillar
Possibly Tolype Caterpillar

Dear Joey,
This is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae, probably in the subfamily Macromphaliinae, and possibly a Large Tolype,
Tolype vellada, based on this image posted to BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on leaves of a variety of broadleaf trees and shrubs. Wagner lists ‘apple, ash, aspen, basswood, beech, birch, cherry, oak and other woody plants.'”  Do any of those trees grow near your Hosta?  Hosta is not a host plant and we believe the caterpillar might have fallen from the tree or that it might be searching for an ideal location to commence pupation.

Lappet Moth Caterpillar
Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Daniel,
Thank you so much for your timely response! Very interesting, although I was hoping we had discovered something here! One of our giant ash trees hang over the hosta plants, so that would explain where he may have fallen from. I have not been able to locate him this morning. Please feel free to post, as I was unable to find ANYTHING similar during my wide internet search. Is it in a certain ‘stage’ perhaps?
Joey

This looks like a large individual, and as we mentioned earlier, it may be looking for a location to pupate.

Lappet Moth Caterpillar may be Large Tolype
Lappet Moth Caterpillar may be Large Tolype

Letter 12 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar from Mexico

 

Subject: caterpillar
Location: Tulum, Yucatan, Jungle
March 17, 2014 7:18 am
We have lots of these in Tulum, Yucatan right now. Can you tell me what is is and what it turns into please.
Signature: tulum

Caterpillar
Caterpillar

Dear tulum,
The best we can do at this time is to eliminate this as a Butterfly Caterpillar.  It is the caterpillar of a Moth.

thank you very much for your response!
april

Karl Identifies a Lappet Moth Caterpillar
Hi Daniel and tulum:
It looks like the caterpillar of a Lappet moth in the genus Euglyphis (Lasiocampidae Macromphaliinae).  There are several potential species but the best match I was able to find was E. maria, which ranges from Mexico to Panama. The Area de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG) has several images from Costa Rica, including this one. The long urticating hairs cause a skin rash if contacted. Regards. Karl

Letter 13 – American Lappet Moth

 

Subject: American Lappet Moth
Location: Mancelona, MI
June 27, 2014 8:06 pm
This lovely (sometimes) orange moth allows its hindwing to peep out like a bedskirt from beneath its forewing. Found him/her hanging around on the dining hall screen door about a week ago after a warm night here in northern lower Michigan. According to Bugguide, the American Lappet Moth (Phyllodesma americana) has a wingspan of 29 to 49 mm.
Signature: Helen

American Lappet Moth
American Lappet Moth

Hi Helen,
Thanks so much for doing all the research on this American Lappet Moth and for providing such a high quality image for posting to our site.  BugGuide also states that the scientific name,
Phyllodesma americana:  “refers to the leaf-mimicing shape of the wings, and perhaps the pale bands on the forewing and hindwing.” 

Letter 14 – American Lappet Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject: Need help with caterpillar
Location: Northwest Oregon
September 25, 2012 11:18 pm
Hi there,
I am a photographer and I would like to know what kind of caterpillar I photographed.
It is about 2 inches long and is a little hairy. I attached a picture to help you figure out what it is.
Best regards,
S.D.
Signature: S.D.

American Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Hi S.D.
In our opinion, this is the caterpillar of the American Lappet Moth,
Phyllodesma americana.  You may read about the American Lappet Moth Caterpillar on BugGuide where it states:  “Caterpillars feed on leaves of alder, birch, oak, poplar, willow, snowbrush (Ceanothus velutinus), chinquapin (Chrysolepis chrysophylla), and members of the rose family; larvae rest longitudinally along a twig during the day, and feed at night” 

Letter 15 – American Lappet Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject: What’s this caterpillar?
Location: Michigan
July 14, 2017 7:15 pm
My husband found this on the garage floor today (July 14). He picked it up with a paper towel and it seemed to grab on to it. While trying to get pictures, he had a hard time separating it from his glove as it was holding on to that as well. I scoured the internet and cannot find anything remotely close to its image. I’m hoping you can help to identify it! Thank you for your time.
Signature: CuriousGeorge

American Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear CuriousGeorge,
Your image of an American Lappet Moth Caterpillar,
Phyllodesma americana, in its threat position is quite wonderful.  Here is an image on BugGuide of an individual’s ventral surface that shows the same markings as your individual, and this BugGuide image illustrates the threat position.  The BugGuide description is:  “Larva: body with blue, black/gray, white, and orange on the back, and densely hairy lobes (lappets) along sides; top of eighth abdominal segment with unpaired hump; when stretched out or alarmed, exposes bright orange band across top of second and third thoracic segments”

American Lappet Moth Caterpillar
American Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Letter 16 – American Lappet Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Unknown moth Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Middleville,MI
Date: 07/21/2019
Time: 06:55 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  My neighbor kids found this caterpillar today in the grass under an oak tree. It has been very hot here last week.I took a picture of the underside also. I wish it was more clear.
How you want your letter signed:  Kim

American Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Kim,
This is an American Lappet Moth Caterpillar,
Phyllodesma americana, and we confirmed its identification on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Caterpillars feed on leaves of alder, birch, oak, poplar, willow, snowbrush (Ceanothus velutinus), chinquapin (Chrysolepis chrysophylla), and members of the rose family; larvae rest longitudinally along a twig during the day, and feed at night” so it was likely feeding on the oak.

American Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Letter 17 – Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject: Unidentifiable Hairy Caterpillar
Location: East London, South Africa
December 25, 2013 5:27 am
Hello WTB. My dad and I came across this hairy caterpillar in my garden in South Africa. Unfortunately none of the insect guides offer pictures of butterfly and moth larvae, and as a result I am familiar with adult butterflies and moths, but know very few of their respective larvae. We found this caterpillar on our Bauhinia gaupinii and I was wondering if you could identify it or give me a rough idea of what it could be so I can research it further. Thanks in advance.
Signature: Simon Robinson

Lappet Moth Caterpillar
Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Hi Simon,
We believe this is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae, but we have not had any luck matching its markings to any South African species online.  There are many similar looking Caterpillars on the ISpot website, and the Cape Lappet
, Eutricha capensis, pictured there looks close, but the coloration and markings are different.  We would not discount that this might be individual variation, or perhaps there are changes that occur during the various instars the caterpillars undergo during metamorphosis.  Interestingly, the moment we wrote that comment and returned to ISpot, we followed a link that revealed an example of the Cape Lappet that looks exactly like your individual.

Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar
Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Letter 18 – Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  South Africa
Date: 10/09/2017
Time: 11:55 AM EDT
We saw this nice caterpillar on the rocks of Cape Point in South Africa. What is the name ?
How you want your letter signed:  José Wyseur

Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear José,
As we were formatting your image, we realized you named it “Donsvlinderrups” and a quick word search turned up a Wikipedia posting that indicates the name refers to the Erebid genus
Euproctis, and though the pictured caterpillar looks similar, we believe your caterpillar is a Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar, Eutricha capensis, that we identified on iSpot.

Hello Daniel,
Many thanks for your help !
Kind regards,
José Wyseur

Letter 19 – Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject:  what caterpillars are these
Geographic location of the bug:  Eastern Cape
Date: 11/29/2017
Time: 06:24 AM EDT
Please help ID.
How you want your letter signed:  andrew

Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Andrew,
The image with a single individual is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar, possibly a Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar.  We will attempt to identify the group of caterpillars later.

Thanks so much. Yes I also got to the lappet moth group. Great help. The multiple ones looked emperor moth family at first glance but then with the tufted spines it threw me a bit
Thanks so much for the efforts.

We agree that your other caterpillars are from the family Saturniidae, but we want to verify the species.

Letter 20 – Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar from South Africa

 

Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Norwood, Johannesburg,
Date: 10/06/2017
Time: 04:18 PM EDT
Hi
My son found this in the garden .
Is it poisonous ?
Can it do damage to my kids, garden house , etc?
Should  I look for more. Or leave it alone .
It has since roamed back into the garden.
I have small boys , 4 years old. Very curious and touchy. A bit scared .
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks in advance for your help.

Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar

This looks like a Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar to us.  We have not found any information indicating it poses a danger.

Letter 21 – Furry Moth from Mexico

 

Subject: Moth id request
Location: Cancun Mexico
February 11, 2014 10:27 am
Spotted this cool moth near Cancun Mexico Feb 4, 2014.
Signature: John

Furry Mexican Moth
Furry Mexican Moth

Dear John,
This is truly an amazing moth, and we haven’t had any luck identifying it.  We are not dismayed, because we believe a moth this distinctive will be identified soon by one of our readers if we cannot discover its identity ourselves.

Possibly Lasiocampid or Megalopygid
Possibly Lasiocampid or Megalopygid

Based on our familiarity with other members in their respective families, we believe this resembles a Flannel Moth of the Megalopygidae or a Lappet Moth of the Lasiocampidae.  We are also going to try to contact Julian Donahue to see if he has a clue to the family.

Thanks Daniel
Some pretty good moth-ers are hitting a brick wall on this one. Surprising since you would think this beauty would of attracted some attention. I am not discouraged though. Thanks for your efforts.

What's That Moth???
What’s That Moth???

Julian Donahue Responds
It’s a lasiocampid. Don’t have time to picture-book it in Seitz.
jpd

 

Letter 22 – Holiday Greeting from a longtime reader

 

Our faithful reader R.G. Marion just sent us this lovely holiday greeting card with an enhanced image of a moth in the genus Tolype.  We believe this is the first holiday card our website has ever received.

Greeting Card with Tolype
Greeting Card with Tolype

Letter 23 – Lappet Moth

 

Subject: Identification
Location: Hanover PA
September 24, 2016 4:21 am
Hi. I just found this “thing” on the side of my house. I live in Hanover, PA and was wondering if you can tell me what in the world it is!
Signature: Gayle

Tolype
Tolype

Dear Gayle,
This is a Lappet Moth in the genus
Tolype.  According to BugGuide:  “there is considerable variation among individuals and between the sexes of all Tolype species, which complicates identification of species based on color.”

Letter 24 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject: what is it?
Location: ohio
August 10, 2016 3:25 pm
I live in Collinsville Ohio. 30 miles North of Cincinnati. This interesting creature was on my garage door. Its Aug10th. A tad bit humid out. 85degrees.
Signature: Tracey

Lappet Moth Caterpillar
Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Tracey,
This is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae, possibly from the genus
Tolype based on this BugGuide image.

Letter 25 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject: Unknown Caterpillar
Location: Palominas, AZ, Cochise County
September 26, 2016 4:15 pm
This caterpillar was found on a Mesquite tree in Palominas, Arizona, Cochise County, on or around September 24, 2016, by Jessica Ray. She requested that I submit her photos for identification.
Signature: Delores

Lappet Moth Caterpillar
Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Delores,
This is definitely a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae, but we cannot say for certain which species or even definitively which genus.  According to a posting entitled Living Illusions on the Lappet Moth 
Phyllodesma americana on the Beautiful Nightmares blog:  “The caterpillars munch on leaves by night, hiding on twigs and bark by day. They are also well-hidden, but because they have to be able to live on a variety of different trees, each of which has a differently-colored bark, lappet caterpillars don’t have a color that matches a particular background. Instead they, like their parent moths, have bodies with distorted outlines, specifically a lateral fringe of long hairs.  On bark, this helps a caterpillar “merge” with the bark on which it rests. …  Animals that depend on camouflage have to stay very still to avoid detection, but if they are spotted, staying still quickly becomes futile. Many animals use color to startle predators as a backup plan, the best-known example being the red-eyed tree frog. At rest, the frogs appear a solid leafy-green, but if disturbed, they quickly open their eyes. The sudden appearance of two giant, bright red eyes can be enough to startle a predator, which might give the frog time enough to make a hasty escape.”  Discover Life has images that support that might be a correct species identification, however, based on this BugGuide image, we would not rule out that it might be in the genus Tolype.  At any rate, your marvelous images clearly depict both the camouflage and the flash of warning colors.    

Lappet Moth Caterpillar
Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Thank you Daniel for identifying the Lappet moth caterpillar.  I searched high and low trying to identify it myself and finally gave up.  Again, many thanks.
Delores

Letter 26 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Moth?
Geographic location of the bug:  ATL, GA
Date: 05/26/2018
Time: 01:46 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What is this Caterpillar?
How you want your letter signed:  Shucks98

Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Shucks98,
This is the caterpillar of a Lappet Moth in the family Lasiocampidae, possibly an American Lappet Moth Caterpillar which is pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 27 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Hoedspruit, South Africa
Date: 07/05/2018
Time: 12:17 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Please ID this caterpillar for me
How you want your letter signed:  J Harris

Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear J Harris,
This is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae but we are not certain of the species. 
There is a very similar looking Caterpillar posted to Wildlife Insight.

Letter 28 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject:  I found an alien
Geographic location of the bug:  Bradenton, Fl
Date: 01/15/2019
Time: 04:38 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello! I found this fella by my porch steps. He moves fairly quick and had a couple peek-a-boo sections in his body (shown).
How you want your letter signed:  Curious Bradentuckian

Lappet Moth Caterpiller

Dear Curious Bradentuckian,
This is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar, possibly from the genus
Tolype which is pictured on BugGuide, or possibly the caterpillar of a Dot Lined White also pictured on BugGuideBugGuide states:  “Larva: excellent twig mimic – body mottled gray and whitish with black markings and fringe of sublateral hairs; displays pair of dark bars between thoracic segments when crawling or disturbed.”  This is a native species, not an alien.

Letter 29 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Slug caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Kentucky
Date: 09/20/2021
Time: 12:42 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I can find several similar slug caterpillars, but none this long that look so much like lichen! Do you know what it is?
How you want your letter signed:  Sky

Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Sky,
This is not a Stinging Slug Caterpillar.  We believe it is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae, possibly the American Lappet Moth which is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Caterpillars feed on leaves of alder, birch, oak, poplar, willow, snowbrush (Ceanothus velutinus), chinquapin (Chrysolepis chrysophylla), and members of the rose family; larvae rest longitudinally along a twig during the day, and feed at night.”

Thanks for getting back so quick! I hate to question the experts,but are you sure? Because the lappet moth pics look fairly round, although the coloring sure  is similar in some! and you can see feet if you look closely thru the hairs, this thing is weirdly flat and kinda ‘suctioned’ on to the 2by 4

Do you have an image that shows the entire caterpillar?  Your image is cropped and we cannot tell how much of the caterpillar’s body was outside of the edge of the frame.  We do not understand your statement “Because the lappet moth pics look fairly round.”  This image from BugGuide illustrates a Lappet Moth caterpillar at least six times longer than it is wide, and that is not “round”.

 

Letter 30 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar from Dubai

 

Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Dubai
Date: 04/28/2019
Time: 02:43 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Bugman,
Could you please help me figure out what this insect is?
I found it in my backyard.
How you want your letter signed:  Yarib

Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Yarib,
This is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae, but we are uncertain of the species.

Letter 31 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar from South Africa

 

Subject: Unknown caterpillar
Location: Mapungubwe National Park, South Africa
November 15, 2016 4:24 am
Hi everybody!
I’m busy making photo album of my trip in South Africa in 2015, and I’m missing the name of a fluffy caterpillar!
Hope you can help me!
Thanks a lot!
Signature: Virginia, Association NARIES

Lappet Moth Caterpillar
Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Virginia,
We are confident that this is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar from the family Lasiocampidae, but we are uncertain of the species.  There are some similar looking images on iSpot.

Letter 32 – Lappet Moth from Mexico, we believe

 

Subject: Prominent Moth?
Location: Mexico
January 9, 2016 2:36 am
A moth found 3.12.15.San Sebastian, mexico. I think this one may be some kind of Prominent Moth? Failry non-descript moth.Any ideas?
Signature: Graeme Davis

Lappet Moth, we believe
Lappet Moth, we believe

Hi Graeme,
We believe this is a Lappet Moth in the family Lasiocampidae, based on its structural resemblance to this unidentified species from Mexico and images posted to BugGuide.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for getting back to me. Just knowing which family to search might help. I will continue the research to see if I can find what species it might be
Graeme

Letter 33 – Mating Lappet Moths

 

Subject:  What’s that moth?
Geographic location of the bug:  Marin County, Ca
Date: 08/13/2019
Time: 09:16 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman, Woman or Bugster,  Can you tell me what these gorgeous creatures emerging are?  They’re on my redwood siding, and there’s a second wee house not yet ready to disgorge its person/s.
How you want your letter signed:  Thank you so much!

Mating Lappet Moths

These appear to be mating Lappet Moths in the genus Tolype, with the remains of a cocoon.  We suspect the cocoon originally housed the female in the pair, and the male sensed her pheromones once she emerged.  Based on images posted to the Natural History of Orange County, we suspect the species is Tolype distincta.  Thanks for also including a good image of the cocoon.

Letter 34 – Mystery: Unknown Moth from Indonesia

 

Yellow moth with a face
May 4, 2010
Hi Bugman!
I have a new moth/caterpillar from Jakarta, Indonesia.

Moth

My housekeeper found the caterpillar munching on guava leaves. After two days it made the silk bag and pupated – from April 15 till this am. I have not seen this moth before. I found lots of silk bags on the trees but, they have a little role and the pupa is dried up inside.
MiriamR.
Kemang, South Jakarta, Indonesia

Moth Caterpillar

Hi Miriam,
WE have not had any luck quickly trying to locate your moth on Bill Oehlke’s comprehensive website, nor on the Wild Silkmoths of Indonesia website.  The closest match is the genus Cricula, but that does not look correct to us.  Hopefully, we will be able to provide you with an answer, either by contacting Bill Oehlke, or by having one of our readers supply a response.

Update:
Bill Oehlke just wrote to us that this is NOT a Giant Silkmoth.  HMMMM.  What could it be?

Ryan and Mr. Goodwraith provide identifications
Not a saturniid, but a member of  Lasiocampoidea. This is a female Trabala pallida.
Ryan

I’m sure ryan’s right. Compare with the specimen shown at http://www.malaeng.com/blog/?p=5898. The placement of the markings seems distinctive for T. pallida.
Mr. Goodwraith

Ed. Note: The Lasiocampoidea are known as Tent Caterpillars and Lappet Moths.

Update:
May 5, 2010
Wow, Mr. Goodwraith! This is the first female that I get- I had a male about a month ago – it was smaller than the female, and even the caterpillar looked a little different.  They seem to eat just about anything they fall on to.
Thanks whatsthatbug!
Miriam

Letter 35 – Poplar Lappet Moth from a Mediterranean Island

 

Subject: Gastropacha Quercifolia moth from Italy + issue with the website
Location: Mediterranean
September 9, 2013 8:27 am
Hi bugman,
We found this moth in an island in the Mediterranean.
I did some digging online and I think this may be in the Lasiocampidae family, Gastropachinae (or Tribe Gastropachini) sub-family, Quercifolia or Populifolia genera (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastropacha_quercifoliahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastropacha_populifolia).
By the way, there seems to be an issue with the website. On Chrome the last posting is of September 1st. On Internet Explorer the webiste is all weird and messed-up. On Firefox everything seems fine.
Thanks!
Ciao
Signature: Saverio

Poplar Lappet Moth
Poplar Lappet Moth

Dear Saverio,
Thanks for submitting your photo of this Lappet Moth in the genus
Gastropacha.  It really does look like a dried leaf.  We contacted our webmaster and this is his suggestion for your website issue:  “Can you ask him to refresh his page and check again? I have cleared the caches and I hope that fixed it. It looks fine to me, but I can only see it on my iPad at the moment.” 

Letter 36 – Possibly Lappet Moth Caterpillar Aggregation from Thailand

 

Subject: big crowd of caterpillars.
Location: Phuket, southern Thailand
May 16, 2015 4:08 am
Found these motionless near the foot of a tree. About 100 of them. they are about 2 inches/5 cm long and were all facing in the same direction. Though they were well camouflaged, a big pile if droppings below was a bit of a giveaway.
Signature: Alasdair

Possibly Lappet Moth Caterpillar Aggregation
Possibly Lappet Moth Caterpillar Aggregation

Dear Alasdair,
We found what appears to be a good visual match to your caterpillars on Shutterstock, but alas, it is only identified as a “blue spotted caterpillar”.  We believe your images depict an aggregation of Lappet Moth Caterpillars from the family Lasiocampidae, but we have not had any luck with a conclusive identification.  Several similar looking caterpillars identified only as Lasiocampidae are pictured on Thai Bugs

Aggregation of Caterpillars:  Possibly Lappet Moth Caterpillars
Aggregation of Caterpillars: Possibly Lappet Moth Caterpillars

Update from Alasdair
Dear Daniel,
Thai friends have identified it. Eupterote tertacea (Walker). Not much on the web and all of it in Thai. It’s a well known pest here – moves in gangs, infests and destroys sugar cane. When touched can cause severe itching.
Cheers.
Alasdair

Thanks for that information Alasdair.  We found a few listings in Thai with that spelling, including this Thai site, but there are more hits with the spelling Eupterote testacea.   We do not believe that is the correct identification.  We found images of the Caterpillar of Eupterote testacea on Insects of Thailand and they look nothing like those in your images, and images on Stock Photo appear to be an even different species.  An image on Guzjung Story does resemble your caterpillars.  Since we cannot really locate a reputable site with images, we are still classifying this as unidentified.

Wise decision!
Thanks for trying. Really impressed by the work you chaps are doing.
Alasdair

Letter 37 – Possibly Lappet Moth Caterpillar from Tanzania

 

Subject: Caterpillar Tanzania
Location: Ndutu, Tanzania
March 29, 2016 5:47 am
This large caterpillar c 9cm was found on the ground in the Ndutu area of Serengeti in Tanzania in February. The area was grassland and acacia woodland.
Is it possible to identify it please?
Signature: Mary Berry

Lappet Moth Caterpillar we believe
Lappet Moth Caterpillar we believe

Dear Mary Berry,
We believe this is a Lappet Moth Caterpillar from the family Lasiocampidae.  There is a similar looking image from South Africa on iSpot.

So many thanks for amazingly quick response!   Now scolling through Lappets.
Thanks again Mary

Letter 38 – Possibly Lappet Moth Caterpillars from Kuala Lumpur

 

Subject:  stinging caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Malaysia, Kuala-Lumpur
Date: 10/15/2017
Time: 05:56 AM EDT
Hi, recently I was in Kuala-Lumpur and had a trip to forests. Occasionally I grabbed a tree on my path, but on other side of the tree there was a bunch of hairy caterpillars. They stinged my hand with their small pikes. And now fingers of my hand swallowed and itching. Do you know is that specie dangerous?
How you want your letter signed:  Dorzhi

Possibly Lappet Moth Caterpillars

Dear Dorzhi,
These sure look like Lappet Moth Caterpillars in the family Lasiocampidae to us.  According to the University of Auburn agriculture page:  “Larvae of some groups within the family are reported to cause irritation when handled, apparently from contact with urticating setae.”

Skin irritation from Caterpillar contact

Letter 39 – Lappet Moth from Thailand

 

Yellow moth
Location: Sri Racha, Chonburi, Thailand
February 12, 2011 10:28 pm
I recently collected some large, hairy yellow striped caterpillars for my grade 3 Science class. One of them has just emerged from its cocoon as a yellow moth about 3 centimeters in length. When I googled ”yellow moth”none of the images showed a moth quite like this one.
Signature: Alan Walmsley

Possibly Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Hi Alan,
Both your caterpillar and the adult moth remind us of the North American Lappet Moths in the family Lasiocampidae, and even more specifically, those in the genus
Phyllodesma.  Here is a comparison photo of a North American caterpillar from BugGuide, and here is an adult moth also from BugGuide.  Though the coloration is quite different, the manner in which the moth holds its underwings in relation to the upper wings is strikingly similar.  Again, this is just a guess, and we hope to be able to provide you with additional information on our own as well as through reader contributions.

Lappet Moth

We immediately tried a search of the family in Thailand and found a Moths of Borneo website, and on Plate 6, and there is an image of a mounted specimen identified as a female Trabala ganesha that looks remarkably like your moth.  Here is a photo from the Foto Biodiversitas Indonesia website and an even better match are these images of Trabala vishnou from Thailand on this Taxonomy website: http://193.166.3.2/pub/sci/bio/life/insecta/lepidoptera/ditrysia/bombycoidea/lasiocampidae/trabala/index.html.

Lappet Moth

Letter 40 – Probably Lappet Moth Caterpillar from Ecuador

 

Subject: Unknown Caterpillar
Location: Around Puyo, Ecuador
June 30, 2016 3:54 pm
Found at Fundacion Los Monos y Selva Vida near Puyo, Ecuador on June 26.
After searching many times using various keywords to describe the caterpillar I came up short. I found a stock photo with a similar one that I have in my picture, however, they do not supply a species and only say “A caterpillar perched on a branch in the Tandayapa Valley of Ecuador.”
What kind of butterfly or moth do you think it will turn into?
Signature: Ryan

Possibly a Lappet Moth Caterpillar
Possibly a Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Ryan,
This reminds us of a Lappet Moth Caterpillar from the family Lasiocampidae, but we have not had any luck matching your image to any identified species.  Interestingly, while searching, we also found the “caterpillar perched on a branch in the Tandayapa Valley of Ecuador” you mentioned.  Once again, we would refer you to Cesar Crash at Insetologia as he can search the internet in Portuguese and possibly Spanish.

Letter 41 – Rose Myrtle Lappet Moth Caterpillar

 

Subject: Elizabeth Preger here!
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
March 20, 2016 9:56 am
I came across this beautiful caterpillar several years ago in Bangkok, Thailand. It was during the monsoon season and I found this creature crawling on the sidewalk during a dry day. I was struck by it’s bright yellow color, but had no idea what it was.
What is it bugman?
Signature: Your favorite model

Rose Myrtle Lappet Moth Caterpillar
Rose Myrtle Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Dear Elizabeth,
It did not take long for us to find a matching image on the Thailex website identifying this as a Rose Myrtle Lappet Moth Caterpillar, and the description that it has  ” black and yellow bands, an orangey head and legs, with some yellow markings, and some pale blue spots on the black bands. The hairs on the body are mostly whitish, yet there are two characteristic black-coloured bristles of long hairs at either side of the head.”  Searching with that common name, we found the scientific name
 Trabala vishnou on Project Noah, and we are curious if the species name relates to the Hindu deity.  The Nature and More website also has an image of the adult moth.
Now regarding your signature, you place us in a difficult position with your claim that you are our favorite model.  If we confirm that claim, then that might place us in the doghouse with other models, so we will refrain from the superlative, but we cannot deny that your ease and willingness before the camera jumpstarted our recent renaissance in both photography and film, and that photographs of you are among the best we have produced in recent years.  Thank you for being a muse.

Rose Myrtle Lappet Moth Caterpillar
Rose Myrtle Lappet Moth Caterpillar

Letter 42 – Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar Aggregation in South Africa

 

Tree cluster
Location:  Cape Town South Africa
September 5, 2010 10:29 am
Is it possible that someone can identify this cluster of caterpillar? Never seen before in my garden. Living in Cape Town South Africa.
Signature:  Paul

Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar Aggregation

Dear Paul,
We hope that one of our readers may be able to assist in this identification.  Caterpillar aggregations like this are common with North American caterpillars like Tent Caterpillars (see BugGuide) and many other species.

Hi Daniel and Paul:
These social caterpillars are larvae of the Cape Lappet Moth, Eutricha capensis (Lasiocampidae: Lasiocampinae). According to the Field Guide to Insects of South Africa: “Larvae congregate conspicuously on tree trunks, feeding on Acacia, white stinkwood (Celtis), bush willow (Combretum), Bauhinia and other trees in nature, and on trees such as mango, peach and the Brazilian Pepper in gardens.” Regards.  Karl

Thanks Karl,
It is nice to know that they are in the same family as North American Tent Caterpillars.

Letter 43 – Morpho Caterpillar from Peru

 

Subject:  caterpillar in Tambopata rainforest, Peru
Geographic location of the bug:  Tambopata reserve, Peru
Date: 06/24/2019
Time: 11:09 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this colorful caterpillar in the tropical rain forest in Peru, in the Tambopata river area.
How you want your letter signed:  Gerhard Hüdepohl

Morpho Caterpillar

Dear Gerhard,
This caterpillar is gorgeous, but we have not been able to identify it.  We believe it might be a Prominent Moth Caterpillar in the family Notodontidae, or a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist with this identification.

Morpho Caterpillar

Correction:  Thanks to a comment from Cesar Crash and a link to this article, we now know this is a Morpho caterpillar, more specifically Morpho amathonte.

Dear Daniel and Cesar,
thank you very much!!  This is excellent news that you were able to identify this caterpillar. I have seen the fabulous Morpho butterflies, but this is the first time to see the caterpillar.
Thanks again,
Gerhard

Letter 44 – Lappet Moth Caterpillar from Tanzania

 

Tanzanian Uber Caterpillar
Location: Tanzania, East Africa
December 9, 2010 10:34 pm
In 2008, I walked across Tanzania. Whilst there I ran into all sorts of fun bugs -a stickbug as long as my forearm, mantids and locusts, and even a horde of hungry siafu that overran our camp in the middle of the night (not to mention ants that can jump). After all the adventure, I took a few days on the beach, whereupon I ran into this beastie. He was big (as long as my hand), bright, beautiful and, years later, I still have no clue what he was. Help?
Signature: Corvus

Unknown Caterpillar

Dear Corvus,
This is just about the most unusual Caterpillar photo we have ever received.  We are going to try to search the World’s Largest Saturniidae Website, though we are not even certain that it is the caterpillar of a Saturniid Moth.  We will also try to contact Bill Oehlke to see if he recognizes your caterpillar.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide some assistance.    Often knowing the food plant can be of some assistance.  Many tropical insects, especially in their earlier stages, are not well documented.  Even if we are not able to eventually provide you with an identification, we are thrilled to be able to post your incredible photos.

Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have any better picture of the tree it was on- all I can tell you, after a few years, was that said tree didn’t have any problem growing in sand maybe ten feet from the beach.  It was also in a relatively populated area – less than 10km south of Dar es Saalam which has been an active port city since the 1800s- so hopefully someone has managed to document this particular insect by now.
Funny enough, the beach it was by is named Kipepeo, which is Swahili for “Butterfly”.
I tried to do some googling on my own, but (obviously) no luck.  Hopefully your resources can turn up an answer! Thank you.
Corvus
http://corvustristis.wordpress.com

Hi again Corvus,
We are blown away by your website and we wonder if you are familiar with Lisa Anne Auerbach’s Steal This Sweater website.  What’s That Bug began its life as a column on Lisa Anne’s now defunct American Homebody website and we have a long history of artistic collaboration together.

Update on Food Plant:  SeaGrape
Unknown Caterpillar from Tanzania Comment
December 13, 2010 1:21 am
If it might be of help in making an ID, I believe the tree this caterpillar was on, is possibly Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera), native to Florida and tropical America. I lived on Hawaii for some years, where it is a popular, introduced landscaping/parking lot plant, particularly thriving in seaside locations; apparently this is true in other warm locales, as well.
Signature: Dee Warnock

Update:  August 3, 3015
We just received a comment that this appears to be a Lappet Moth Caterpillar in the family Lasiocampidae, and the link provided indicates that is a very likely possibility, prompting us to remove its unidentified status.

Letter 45 – Lappet Moth from Arizona: Gloveria arizonensis

 

Subject:  Can you tell me what this is, please?
Geographic location of the bug:  Prescott Valley, AZ
Date: 09/10/2017
Time: 05:16 PM EDT
Found this guy on some wood on my patio. Can you tell me what it is, please?
How you want your letter signed:  Nancy

Lappet Moth:  Gloveria arizonensis

Dear Nancy,
We are having trouble identifying your very hairy moth.  How large was it?  We will contact lepidopterist Julian Donahue to seek assistance.

Hi Julian,
I can’t even figure out a family for this.  I have eliminated Lasiocampidae and Cossidae, but I don’t know where to search next.
Any idea?
Thanks
Daniel

Julian Donahue identifies Lappet Moth
Hi Daniel,
I think you overshot it–it IS a lasiocampid: Gloveria arizonensis.
More information here: http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges=7696
Curiously, I got an identical inquiry from the LACM entomology department a couple of days ago–for a photo someone submitted from southeastern California.
Julian

Tonight our little friend decided to hang out on our window screen and he had his wings opened a bit more for a better identification. Thank you for finding out what he is.
Nancy in Arizona

Lappet Moth: Gloveria arizonensis

Letter 46 – Dot-Lined White Moth is formerly Unknown Moth

 

Subject: Pretty moth?
Location: Memphis, Tn
October 7, 2014 2:57 pm
Hi Bugman,
Love your site. We found this guy on the porch and was wondering what kind of moth this was.
Thanks ,
Carol
Memphis, TN
Signature: Carol

Unknown Moth
Unknown Moth

Dear Carol,
We wish you had a dorsal view of this pretty moth as it is giving us some difficulty.  At first we thought it might be a Lappet Moth in the family Lasiocampidae, but we couldn’t find any matches on BugGuide.  Perhaps one of our readers can assist with the identification.

unknown Moth
unknown Moth

We wrote to Julian Donahue who promptly wrote back with the following identification.

Julian Donahue identifies Dot-Lined White
Right on with Lasiocampidae. It’s Artace cribrarius.
Because the wings are somewhat translucent, I suspect that the greenish tinge is an artifact of lighting or photography.
More photos and distribution map at: http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges=7683
Julian

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

36 thoughts on “Exploring the Mysteries of Lappet Moths: What You Need to Know”

  1. I took the original photos of the “pig moth” in Masvingo Zimbabwe. It has now ben identified as being Lasiocampidae: stoermeriana sp. by Johan Heyns and Roy Goff from the South African Butterflies Bugs Bees and other small animals on Facebook. A very pretty, unusual looking little moth 25 mm long.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for getting back to us. We didn’t spend as much time researching as we would have liked, but this identification was proving to be a real challenge. Had we known the family, it might have been easier.

      Reply
  2. I’m not (yet^^) an expert but, considering its size, i suggest its Lasiocampidae. There are some genus, like Trabala and Chrysopsyche, which are present in Tanzania and share some similarities with this specimen. If you search on Google Images “caterpillar tanzania” you’ll find other points of comparison (like this one : https://www.flickr.com/photos/44691276@N06/15478136906 ) with caterpillar of, obviously, a very closely related species or the same species at an earlier stage.

    Reply
  3. This larval aggregation looks more like members of the Lappet Moth (family Lasiocampidae) genus Metanastria.
    There are two species in the genus in Hong Kong, where I’m based, both of which have larvae that exhibit this aggregating behaviour (presumed to be a defensive strategy for survival).
    e.g. http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2108070
    http://www.hkwildlife.net/Forum/viewthread.php?tid=28294&extra=&highlight=metanastria&page=1
    There are documented reports of the genus in India, too – e.g. http://faunaofindia.nic.in/PDFVolumes/records/083/03-04/0181-0183.pdf

    hope this is of some assistance.

    Reply
  4. This larval aggregation looks more like members of the Lappet Moth (family Lasiocampidae) genus Metanastria.
    There are two species in the genus in Hong Kong, where I’m based, both of which have larvae that exhibit this aggregating behaviour (presumed to be a defensive strategy for survival).
    e.g. http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2108070
    http://www.hkwildlife.net/Forum/viewthread.php?tid=28294&extra=&highlight=metanastria&page=1
    There are documented reports of the genus in India, too – e.g. http://faunaofindia.nic.in/PDFVolumes/records/083/03-04/0181-0183.pdf

    hope this is of some assistance.

    Reply
  5. I live in Waco (Hewitt) Texas. We found one of these in our backyard today. We have a huge live oak tree and some other stuff. I guess it eats oak tree leaves? It was hanging out in my kids’ red wagon. I put on the tree and said “good luck!” after taking pics of it. Definitely an American Lappet, no doubt.

    Reply
  6. Now we know what we saw on our garden gate! Can you tell me what the moth looks like and perhaps what the caterpillar feeds on?

    Reply
  7. We’ve just had a HUGE infestation in our garden. Hundreds of them stripped our African Holly tree, so we eventually had to chop it down. We just couldn’t get to them all. Where do the moths come from? How do we prevent this again? Some caterpillars fell onto the tree-feller and burnt his skin as if they had battery acid in them.

    Reply
  8. I found one in North Louisiana and it’s got a bright green spot on the very end. What’s that spot and what do I do with the caterpiller?

    Reply
  9. I found one in Livingston, Texas April 24, 2021. I just found this page to tell me what it was. I think it’s probably the most beautiful caterpillar I have ever seen in person.

    Reply
  10. Hi we also found a exact same caterpillar on my spekboom tree in my balcony. I tried Google but could not find much info on this one until I came to this comment. We have not interered with it but I live in a flat with my cats and I’m worried to let them out on the balcony now as I don’t want them to get stung. Also I live in a big city so I can’t relocate this caterpillar. How long do they take to go to a cocoon stage. My spekboom plant is now almost devoid of leaves

    Reply

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