Moth Pupa: All You Need to Know for a Fascinating Discovery

Moth pupa is a fascinating stage in the life cycle of moths. During this phase, the caterpillar undergoes a remarkable transformation within a protective casing, known as the cocoon. This metamorphosis leads to the development of an adult moth, which eventually emerges from the cocoon with colorful wings and distinctive markings.

There is a wide variety of moth species, each with unique characteristics in their pupal stage. For example, the Luna Moth has an impressive wingspan of 3-4.5 inches and takes 2-3 weeks to spin its cocoon, while the Spongy Moth has four distinct developmental stages in its life cycle. Understanding these diverse species and their pupal stages offers insight into the fascinating world of moths and their incredible adaptability.

Moth Pupa Basics

Life Cycle

Moths undergo a complete metamorphosis consisting of four main stages:

  • Egg: Moths lay their eggs on host plants.
  • Larva (caterpillar): The caterpillar feeds on the host plant and grows through several “instar” stages.
  • Pupa: The caterpillar transforms into a pupa, either forming a cocoon or a naked/exposed pupa.
  • Adult: The adult moth emerges and the cycle starts again.

Pupa Stage Definition

The pupa stage is a crucial period of transition in a moth’s life cycle. During this stage, the moth undergoes significant changes, including:

  • Developing wings
  • Changing body structures

Examples of moth pupae include the Luna Moth’s cocoon and the exposed pupa of the Spongy Moth.

Comparison Table: Cocoon vs. Naked Pupa

Feature Cocoon Naked Pupa
Protection Silk/plant debris covering No protective covering
Examples Luna Moth, Silk Moth Spongy Moth

In summary, moth pupae undergo significant transformations in their life cycle. The pupa stage is essential for their metamorphosis into adult moths, and it can be either protected by a cocoon or exposed as a naked pupa.

Moth Pupa Formation

Cocoon Construction

Moth pupae form inside protective structures called cocoons. These are made by the larvae spinning silk around themselves, creating a safe environment for their transformation. Some species, like the polyphemus moth, anchor their cocoon to a pad of silk for added stability.

Molting Process

Moth larvae go through a series of molts during their life cycle. After their final larval molt, they enter the pupa stage. This is when the most dramatic changes occur internally, eventually leading to the emergence of the adult moth. The process typically lasts 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the species and environmental conditions.

Comparison Table:

Butterflies Moths
Club-shaped antennae with a bulb at the end Feathery or saw-edged antennae
Pupae form in chrysalises, which are hard and protective Pupae form in cocoons, which are usually silk spun
Generally active during daytime Often active during nighttime
  • Features of moth pupae:

    • Protected by cocoons
    • Formed after final larval molt
    • Dramatic internal changes
  • Characteristics of cocoon construction:

    • Spun using silk
    • Can be anchored for stability
    • Provides a safe environment for transformation

Anatomy of a Moth Pupa

Physical Structure

A moth pupa is the stage in the moth’s life cycle where it undergoes metamorphosis, transitioning from a larva (caterpillar) to an adult moth. During this stage, the pupa is typically contained within a protective cocoon or case spun by the larva before transforming.

  • Encased in a protective cocoon or case
  • Rigid outer shell called the exoskeleton
  • The shape and size vary depending on the species

Protective Mechanisms

Moth pupae have a few defense mechanisms to protect themselves from predators and environmental threats:

  1. Cocoon or case: Many moth species spin a cocoon or form a case around their pupa for protection. The materials used in building the cocoon or case differ among species and can include silk fibers, plant materials, and debris from their surroundings. Here’s a more detailed information on moth’s cocoon
  2. Cremaster: Some moth pupae have a cremaster, a collection of spines at the tip of their abdomen. These spines anchor the pupa to the cocoon or case’s silk pad, providing additional stability and support. An example of this can be found in the polyphemus moth.

Comparison of Moth Pupa Protection Strategies

Strategy Moth Species Pros Cons
Cocoon/Case Many species Provides physical protection Requires energy to build
Cremaster Polyphemus moth Offers stability and support Limited to some species

In summary, the anatomy of a moth pupa consists of a distinctive physical structure meant for protection and transformation. Protective mechanisms such as cocoon or case building and the presence of a cremaster in some species provide defense during this vulnerable stage in the moth’s life cycle.

Environmental Factors Affecting Moth Pupa

Temperature

Moth pupa development is highly influenced by surrounding temperature. For instance, higher temperatures generally lead to faster development, while lower temperatures may slow it down. It is important to note that extreme temperatures can also be harmful or even fatal to the pupa.

Humidity

Humidity plays a crucial role in the successful development of moth pupa. Adequate moisture levels prevent desiccation and ensure a suitable environment for metamorphosis. However, excessive humidity may lead to mold growth, which is detrimental to the pupa’s health.

  • Ideal temperature range: Varies depending on the species of moth
  • Ideal humidity range: Slightly humid but well-ventilated environment

Comparing Temperature and Humidity Effects on Moth Pupa Development:

Factor Ideal Condition Potential Issues
Temperature Species-specific temperature range Stunted growth or death due to extreme temperatures
Humidity Slightly humid, well-ventilated area Desiccation or mold growth

In summary, both temperature and humidity play essential roles in the development of moth pupa. To ensure optimal growth and metamorphosis, it is important to maintain the appropriate conditions according to the specific species of moth.

Common Moth Species and Their Pupae

Silkworm Moth

The silkworm moth (Bombyx mori) is a well-known species due to its use in silk production. Its pupa, also known as the chrysalis, is protected by a delicate cocoon spun by the silk secreted by the caterpillar. The cocoon has a smooth texture and is usually white or light gold in color.

Some features of silkworm moth pupae include:

  • Pupa size: approximately 20-30mm in length
  • Cocoon texture: smooth and oval-shaped
  • Color: white to light gold

When comparing the silkworm moth pupa with the gypsy moth pupa, the silkworm cocoon’s distinct silky structure sets it apart. Below is a quick comparison table:

Feature Silkworm Moth Pupa Gypsy Moth Pupa
Cocoon Texture Smooth and silky Rough and hairy
Size 20-30mm 30-60mm
Color White to light gold Tan to dark brown

Gypsy Moth

The gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) is a well-known pest in North America and Europe, causing damage to forests and trees. In contrast to the silky cocoon of the silkworm moth, the gypsy moth pupa is encased in a rough, hairy cocoon, which is usually found attached to tree trunks or branches.

Characteristics of gypsy moth pupae include:

  • Pupa size: 30-60mm in length
  • Cocoon texture: rough and hairy
  • Color: tan to dark brown

In summary, the difference in cocoon texture and color, as well as pupa size, can help differentiate between the silkworm moth and gypsy moth species when observing their respective pupae.

Moth Pupa and Human Interaction

Moths in Textile Industry

Moth pupae, particularly those of the silk moth (Bombyx mori), contribute to the textile industry by producing silk cocoons. Silk cocoons are used to:

  • Create luxurious fabrics
  • Make threads for embroidery

However, moths can also cause damage in textiles due to:

  • Eating and damaging fabrics
  • Infesting stored garments

Moths in Agriculture

Moths play a role in agriculture both as pests and as pollinators. Pollinator moths help plants in:

  • Flower pollination
  • Contributing to biodiversity

On the other hand, damaging moths can cause:

  • Crop loss
  • Decreased yield

Comparison Table:

Aspect Positive Impact Negative Impact
Textile Industry Silk production Fabric damage
Agriculture Pollination Crop loss, reduced yield

From the textile to agriculture, moth pupae and human interaction can be both beneficial and detrimental. By understanding these impacts, we can utilize moths’ benefits while minimizing their adverse effects.

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 – Squashed Moth Pupa releases “Soup”

 

Subject: Packing the Garage
Location: Arizona
October 27, 2015 10:27 pm
I was packing the garage and saw this on the ground I was kinda scared of it and assumed it was a bad bug like a cockroach sac or something and squished it and was very confused to have green liquid come out. I don’t think there was anything in it so I am worried about what it was.
Signature: Scared of these things

Moth Pupa
Moth Pupa

This is a squashed Moth pupa.

Thank you for responding. So that is common for them to have green liquid on the inside?

When a caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis and enters the pupal stage, the interior organs break down into what scientists refer to as “soup” and here is the explanation from Scientific American:  “But what does that radical transformation entail? How does a caterpillar rearrange itself into a butterfly? What happens inside a chrysalis or cocoon?  First, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out. But the contents of the pupa are not entirely an amorphous mess. Certain highly organized groups of cells known as imaginal discs survive the digestive process. ”

Letter 2 – Moth Pupa

 

What a worm
Hello,
I found on my attic of my house this worm or larva. It’s about 25mm long. The head is on left hand down of the foto and is moving slowly. Can you tell my what’s that.
Best regards
Paul Schwartau

Hi Paul,
This is a moth pupa, though we don’t know what species.

Letter 3 – Result of a Caterpillar Encounter in Vietnam

 

Subject: Bite in botanical garden Vietnam
Location: VIETNAM
April 26, 2017 9:18 am
Hi !
I was recently in Phong Nha park in Vietnam and was stung by something through my leggings as I hiked through a botanical garden there (south East Asian forest/ jungle setting)
It looks like a caterpillar bite but I’m not sure!
Any knowledge would be appreciated:)
Many thanks
Signature: Zuzanna

Caterpillar Irritation

Dear Zuzanna,
Caterpillars do not bite, but some species do have urticating hairs that might cause a reaction like you received.  What you have is certainly not a bite.

Letter 4 – Braconid Wasp Pupae on a Hornworm: Biological Control

 

Braconid Wasp cocoons on caterpillar
I never would have know what this was if I hadn’t seen it on your site yesterday! I found this poor guy on my tomato plant, he is still alive but not for long. What does he turn into? I read that this is good because him and his friends would eat my tomato plants and some gardeners purposely release braconid wasps into their garden to control these caterpillars naturally.
Steve

Thanks for the image Steve,
Adults of Manduca sexta are large mottled brown moths with yellow spots on the abdomen. We have one pictured on our Hawkmoth page.

Letter 5 – Caterpillars and Pupa

 

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!!!!
Sharon

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.

Letter 6 – Caterpillars and Pupa

 

Dear What’s That Bug,
I was walking through the woods yesterday evening when I ran across several of these creatures. We live in the southeastern U.S….these were found near dusk in a drizzle in a forest. I have always heard of them being called ‘cherry bugs’ due to the scent that they emit when startled or feel threatened…they are between 1.5 and 2.5 inches in length, black, with yellow spots down not only the sides, but also down the center of the back as well. All markings are symmetrical. They look *very* similar to a picture I saw of a yellow-spotted millipede…the difference being the extra row of yellow spots down the center of the back….plus, the yellow-spots are from Oregon…and we are in Tennessee. I am curious to know what exactly these are, they are interesting creatures, and I’d like to know a bit more about them. Also, any care advice would be appreciated as well.
Thank you! –
Christina Loder

Dear Christina,
Unfortunately, if you enclosed a photograph, it did not arrive. Based on your description, and your latitude and longitude, I would guess that you have stumbled upon some caterpillars, more specifically, the larvae of some local swallowtail (Papilio sp.) My guess would be the larvae of the black swallowtail butterfly, which feeds on parsley and related plants including Queen Anne’s Lace which grows in uncultivated meadows. The caterpillars are green, black and yellow, and have two orange horns which are hidden near the head. When the caterpillar is threatened, the horns emerge, along with a musty smell that I would not really liken to the scent of cherries. Try this: http://www.ivyhall.district96.k12.il.us/4th/kkhp/
1insects/BSC.html

If you keep them in captivity, you can feed them carrot tops. They will form a crysalid and a butterfly will eventually emerge.

Letter 7 – Caterpillars and Pupa

 

My 8 yr old Daughter has been collecting different bugs, and such since we moved to Sierra Vista, AZ. Her latest are in the attached photos. both fuzzy, and two are blackish brown while the other one is orange-yellow.
THank You, RC

Dear RC,
The brown caterpillars are a type of wooly-bear, the larvae of a group of moths known as Tiger Moths,
Family Arctiidae. The exact species is difficult to determine, but it could be a Vestal Tiger Moth,
Maenas vestalis, the moth of which is white with conspicuous red forelegs, a Painted Arachnis,
Arachnis picta, the moth of which is beautifully marked with grey on white forewings and red
hindwings, or it could be another Tiger Moth. The yellow caterpillar is also a wooly-bear, perhaps Spilosoma virginica. Both are general feeders and shouldn’t be too hard to keep alive until they pupate, which they will do inside of a cocoon composed of their own hair. The best way to determine the species of the caterpillar is seeing what the adult moth that emerges looks like.

Letter 8 – Ficus Spinx Pupa: a continuing saga from the Bahamas

 

Found This This Morning
Hi Daniel,
I woke up this morning to find “Gary” (as my daughter affectionatly named him) in this state. How long can we expect him to be like this? Thanks for the speedy response!
Jill

Hi Jill,
Nice to see that your Ficus Sphinx Caterpillar, Gary, has metamorphosed into a pupa. There are several generations per year in warm climates, so we would guess that Gary would emerge as an adult moth in about a month. Many Sphinx Moths pupate underground, but the Ficus Sphinx pupates among leaf litter.

Letter 9 – Manduca pupa

 

Subject: What is this funky thing?!
Location: Eatonton, GA
April 7, 2016 7:15 am
Hey there! We are on our 5th grade camping trip at the Rock Eagle 4H Center in Eatonton, GA. While tilling soil, one of our leaders stumbled upon this little guy. It was found in a garden and was excreting a yellow liquid as she was holding it. Can you help out my 5th graders and our staffers??
Signature: Bugged Student Teacher

Manduca Pupa
Manduca Pupa

Dear Bugged Student Teacher,
This is a pupa of a Sphinx Moth from the genus
Manduca, and two species, the Carolina Sphinx and the Five Spotted Hawkmoth, both have caterpillars, known as Hornworms, that feed on the leaves of cultivated tomatoes and related plants.  We suspect it was excreting a yellow liquid because it was damaged when it was discovered.  It does appear to have a mortal wound in the image.

Letter 10 – Moth Pupa

 

Unusual backyard find
My daughters brought me what looks to be some sort of larvae from the backyard today. They wanted to know what it was and after a good amount of searching online I am stumped. I will enclose a picture of the thing. It is a little over 3/4″ long, cylinder type body narrowing at both ends, has 3 “rings” that look to be joints towards one end of the body. There are no visible legs, eyes, or antannae. It has a brown hard body. When touched the thing will rotate the tip nearer the rings in a circle, bending at the rings. Please help satisfy my daughter’s couriosity (and mine, too).
Thanks. Dan

Hi Dan,
You have dug up a moth pupa. I can’t tell you the species, but many moths bury themselves in the ground and form a naked pupa like the one you found.

Letter 11 – Moth Pupa

 

Subject: Trying to identify this for some kids
Location: Jamaica Plain MA.
May 4, 2017 2:39 pm
I found several of these in the dirt last week while fixing a path in my garden that is generally covered with burlap. I’m guessing they are some kind of egg case or early-stage larva, but have no idea what. I volunteer in a 2nd grade classroom. The kids are studying insects, and I’d love to take this in and tell them what it is.
Thank you for any assistance.
Signature: Ms. Deb

Moth Pupa

Dear Ms. Deb,
This is some species of Moth pupa.  Many moths pupate underground without forming a cocoon.  We are sorry we cannot be more specific.  Placing it in moist, not damp, soil in a terrarium should reward you students with the emergence soon of the adult moth.  We would love a follow-up report with an image of the adult.

Letter 12 – Moth Pupa

 

Subject:  What’s inside this chrysalis?
Geographic location of the bug:  Phoenix, AZ, Geranium Plant
Date: 02/06/2018
Time: 01:41 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Just curious what is inside this little guy.. moves when it’s touched. Maybe a butterfly or moth? About an inch and a half long. If it is harmless, how can I protect it?
How you want your letter signed:  Keri

Moth Pupa

Dear Keri,
We are confident that this is a Moth Pupa, but beyond that, we doubt that we can provide a more specific identification.  It might be a member of the superfamily Noctuoidea, a group with many members that pupate underground without spinning a cocoon.  We did locate this image of a caterpillar from the Owlet moth family eating the leaf of a geranium in nearby California on BugGuide, and it is possibly your individual is closely related.  Knowing the food plant is often a tremendous assistance when identifying insects.

Letter 13 – Pre-pupal Modest Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Pre-Pupal Hornworm, we believe
Pre-Pupal Modest Sphinx Caterpillar, we believe

Subject: Green tubular bug
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, Rio Grande Valley
October 15, 2014 6:48 am
Found this in the sand under a tree that has had a moth infestation. Facebook friends say it is a tomato hornworm, but it has no horns or spots and is a long way from the garden.
Signature: Emily

Dear Emily,
In our opinion, this is a pre-pupal Caterpillar in the family Sphingidae, and it is burying itself in the ground prior to pupation.  As you mentioned, there are no obvious features apparent.  If you provide us with a side view and the name of the tree you found it under, we will pursue this identification.

Thanks for the quick response! I can’t find another one, but it was under a cottonwood tree. I will look again later today.
The tree has been suffering from a tent caterpillar infestation.

Thanks for the quick response.  This is not a Tent Caterpillar, but since the host tree is a cottonwood, we believe this is in the genus Pachysphinx, most likely a Big Poplar Sphinx or Modest Sphinx caterpillar which is pictured on the Sphingidae of the Americas site.

Letter 14 – Pupa of Unknown Saturniid Moth

 

Brown Chrysalis
Location:  Maine, USA
September 18, 2010 6:14 pm
I found this bug on the ground, it could’ve fallen it’s 35 mm long.
Signature:  Please help me, Tucker

Pupa of a Saturniid Moth

Hi Tucker,
This is the Pupa of one of the Giant Silkworm Moths in the family Saturniidae.  Some moths do not spin a cocoon, rather they dig underground an transform into a bare pupa like the one you discovered.  Sphinx Moths or Hawkmoths in the family Sphingidae pupate in that manner, but their pupae are distinctly different than this.  We thought this might be the pupa of an Imperial Moth, but an image posted to BugGuide shows a more elongated form, and the same is true of the pupa of the Royal Walnut Moth which may be seen on the Beautiful Hickory Horned Devil posting online by Jana Miller.  Perhaps this is the Pupa of a Luna Moth that somehow fell from its loosely constructed cocoon.  The pupa of a Luna Moth can be viewed on the Featured Creatures website.

Letter 15 – Purple Carrot Seed Moth: Caterpillars and Pupae

 

Subject:  Caterpillar and nest identification
Geographic location of the bug:  Cumberland, Maine
Date: 07/30/2018
Time: 01:54 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I have had a caterpillar and now little “egg nest” on my dill plant and am looking for identification.  You have a listing of Purple Carrot-Seed Caterpillar.  Might these be the same?
How you want your letter signed:  lfriedman

Purple Carrot Seed Moth Caterpillars

Dear lfriedman,
You are correct.  These are indeed Purple Carrot Seed Moth Caterpillars, but what you have mistaken for an “egg nest” is actually a group pupation.  Adult moths will emerge.  According to BugGuide:  “Introduced (2009) to northeastern North America. Occurs in most of Europe, Asia and northern Africa.”  BugGuide also notes:  “The larvae feed on plants in the parsley family, mainly the flowers and unripe seeds. Hosts include coriander, dill, carrot (
Daucus carota), anise (Pimpinella), fennel, caraway, cumin (Cuminum cyminum), celery, parsley, parsnip (Pastinaca), and cow-parsnip [per Agro Atlas, cited below]; also Seseli and Peucedanum according to BAMONA.”

Purple Carrot Seed Moth Pupae

Letter 16 – Unknown Beetle Pupa

 

all white grub? Request
Location:  Mid-Peninsula SF Bay Area, CA
July 18, 2010 12:02 pm
Hello,
This is an update to my ID request from 7/14. I took the bug to our local county Agriculture Dept. and they thought it was a Mole Cricket. I’m doubtful though since it doesn’t look like any picture of a Mole Cricket online and doesn’t have wings. It most resembles a picture you have of the Cottonwood Borer Pupae but my bug was found in the dirt rather than in wood. Anxiously waiting your diagnosis – thanks in advance!
AW

Unknown Beetle Pupa

Dear AW,
We regret that we are unable to classify your creature beyond saying that it is a Beetle Pupa.  Perhaps one of our readers can provide a family classification.

Thank you so much for your response!
Andrea

Eric Eaton poses a some possibilities.
Daniel:
I can’t be positive from one image alone, but I’m leaning toward either a net-winged beetle (family Lycidae) or a firefly (family Lampyridae).
Eric

Letter 17 – Purple Carrot Seed Moth Caterpillar on Dill

 

Subject: What are these?
Location: Elwood, IL
July 13, 2015 6:10 am
I found these caterpillar/larva on my dill and am not able to identify them. Can you help? I have swallowtaill caterpillars on my dill and am hoping these won’t kill the caterpillars.
Signature: Penny

Unknown Caterpillars on Dill
Purple Carrot Seed Moth Caterpillars on Dill

Dear Penny,
We are still working on this identification.  The internet is filled with Black Swallowtail Caterpillars feeding on dill, but we are having problems identifying your caterpillars.  They remind us of the Sophora Worm, but we cannot find any record of them feeding on dill, their diet being confined to members of the legume family.  We suspect this is some species of moth, and we don’t believe you need to worry about them killing Swallowtail caterpillars.

Update:  15 July 2016
A special thanks to Jennifer who after nearly a year provided us with an ID for the Purple Carrot-Seed Caterpillar, Depressaria depressana, in the Twirler Moth superfamily Gelechioidea, which represents a new subcategory for our site.  Jennifer also provided a BugGuide link where it states this introduced species and:  “The larvae feed on plants in the parsley family, mainly the flowers and unripe seeds. Hosts include coriander, dill, carrot (Daucus carota), anise (Pimpinella), fennel, caraway, cumin (Cuminum cyminum), celery, parsley, parsnip (Pastinaca), and cow-parsnip”

Letter 18 – Unknown Guatemalan Caterpillar Pupates

 

Subject: It is not what we tought! 😮
Location: Guatemala. San Martín Jilotepeque
April 26, 2017 1:55 am
Dear Mr. Bugman:
Some weeks ago, I wrote a letter to you because my brother, linving in Guatemala (San Martín Jilotepeque) decided to adopt a caterpillar he found in his garden, and we didn’t know what kind of was. Kindly, you told us you thought it was a Woolly bear caterpillar, but now we can see its chrysalis and it seems that is something different. Could it be a Leopard Moth caterpillar? What do you think it is?
We also would like to know how much time could this process last (I mean pupation) because it depends on the caterpillar kind. My brother is even worry because he thinks the pupation is not good, that it could have had a problem because it seems to be unconcluded. ¿What do you think?
Thank you so much! 🙂
The Caterpillar lovers
Signature: Belén

Unknown Pupa

Dear Belen,
We agree that this pupa (chrysalis is the pupal state of a butterfly) is probably not from the subfamily Arctiinae as Woolly Bears generally incorporate larval hairs into a cocoon.  We would love an image of the adult when it emerges.  Without knowing the species, it is difficult to predict when eclosion will occur.  The pupa does not look abnormal to us.  Please keep us updated.  What did the caterpillar eat between the time you sent the first image and now?  Food plant might help identify the species.

Unknown Caterpillar

Letter 19 – Brazilian Skipper Pupa

 

Large brown and white spider and cocoon in the making
February 22, 2010
Hi- ….  The other picture was in the same place on the same trip. It was right on the edge of the swamp surrounded by a myriad of cypress trees. There were tons of these cocoons all over, and the leaves they were on were practically stripped (by the caterpillars, I’m guessing). I.D. would be appreciated!
Sammy
Collier County, FL

Brazilian Skipper Pupa

Hi Sammy,
The horn at the end resembles the horn on a Sphingidae caterpillar, but we don’t believe your pupa is in that family.  We wish you were able to provide the food plant as that often assists in identification.  We will post this mystery and see if we get any assistance.

Hi- the plant he (or she) was on is called fireflag, or alligator flag.  Hope that helps.

Daniel,
It does not look like a sphingid to me.
Not even sure if the “horn” is on the front end or tail end.
Bill Oehlke

Karl identifies the pupa of a Brazilian Skipper
Hi Daniel and Sammy:
This looks like the pupa or chrysalis of a Brazilian Skipper (a.k.a. Larger Canna Leafroller), Calpodes ethlius, in the family Hesperiidae. There is a very similar photo on the Bugguide and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has posted an extensive information page. According to the latter site, the larval host plants are Canna Lilies and related species (looks about right from this photo). It is primarily a Central and South American species but has become established in Florida, Texas, and southern Arizona. Somewhat unusually, the horn is actually at the head end. Regards.
Karl

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.

23 thoughts on “Moth Pupa: All You Need to Know for a Fascinating Discovery”

  1. My cat keeps bringing in dark brown shiny segmented bugs about 6 to 8 cms long appears to have eyes but not much else! We live in Cornwall and have a largish garden. any ideas what they are, she has brought in four or five of these creatures in the past week!

    Reply
    • Without an image, it is difficult to identify. We would also speculate that perhaps the legs and wings were lost during the encounter with your cat.

      Reply
    • Thanks for providing the ID of the Purple Carrot-Seed Moth Caterpillar. This will represent a new subcategory of Twirler Moth Caterpillars in the superfamily Gelechioidea.

      Reply
  2. Habitually-subterranean moth pupae can be placed in a large cup with a shallow layer of damp (not wet) paper to raise them, since I imagine that reburying the thing may not do it any good.

    Reply
  3. Hi I found a red-brown-looking bug in my back yard I don’t know what it is but I would like to watch it hatch. Could someone tell me what I can do to make it hatch?

    Reply
  4. Hi I found a red-brown-looking bug in my back yard I don’t know what it is but I would like to watch it hatch. Could someone tell me what I can do to make it hatch?

    Reply
  5. Thats a cocoon, with a moth inside of it. This “soup” is called imaginal discs, the caterpillar will shed its skin to a pupa and this
    Isn’t
    a “resting stage” its a million little things happening and the soup is what forms the moth organs and bodyparts and insides, This creature is known as a “lunar” or Luna moth pupa sometimes its different colors, right now the pupa with the soup inside the pupa is the body for right now. But over time the pupa forms a special liquid called “Waste sac” which is red and its not blood by the way.

    Reply

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