Tobacco Budworm? or some other caterpillar???

Heliothis virescens
September 22, 2009
Well, the yard has exploded with moths, butterflies and caterpillars – counted 11 black swallowtail cats on the dill and parsley, with countless eggs still to hatch, and found 2 empty chrysallises on the porch rail and landscape timbers in the yard. The snaps are full of Buckeye caterpillars which go nicely with the Buckeye flag hanging from the porch (it’s football!! Go Bucks!!) While inspecting the dill, I found this pink striped caterpillar on the Russian sage that’s planted next to the dill (and under the Ohio State flag). It’s been at least 3 days of searching but I think this comes close to BugGuide’s Tobacco Budworm – the description says it tends to take on the color of the plant it’s eating. It was also getting close to sunset, so the light and the flowers on the Russian sage really helped hide this one. Please feel free to correct the ID – I think we’ve looked at over 8 million pictures of pink caterpillars since Saturday night. Thanks!
Kathleen Haines
Newport News, VA (southeastern VA)

Tobacco Budworm
Tobacco Budworm??

Dear Kathleen,
We love the enthusiasm in the tone of your letter.  This looks like it may be a Tobacco Budworm,
Chloridea virescens, but we are not certain.  We will post your letter and image and link to the BugGuide page on the species in the hopes that an expert can provide some input.

Tobacco Budworm??
Tobacco Budworm??

Thanks so much!  I’d actually already been to your site before going to my email and was delighted to see the pictures already there.  You all are terrific and do such a good job!
My daughter is an elementary school art teacher and brought her school’s science teacher over yesterday to “harvest” some caterpillars from the yard.  They took 3 or 4 black swallowtail caterpillars, then went to the local garden center and picked up a few dill plants and are hoping to be able to follow the caterpillar to butterfly saga all the way through.  They also found a fuzzy tan caterpillar out on the green cones – the guy looks like he needs a serious day with a hairstylist – that we’re working on identifying.  And this morning, the snaps were covered with at least a dozen Common Buckeye caterpillars.  It’s all just a great reward for planting for butterflies!
Thanks again for your great site and all the good work you do.
Kathy Haines
Southeastern Virginia

Leave a Comment