Currently viewing the category: "moth caterpillars"

Any idea what this is?
Location: Sioux City, IA
July 29, 2011 9:51 am
Wondering if you have any idea what this caterpillar/worm is?
Signature: Maureen

Four Horned Sphinx

Hi Maureen,
This is a Four Horned Sphinx or Elm Sphinx.  We just posted a photo of a Four Horned Sphinx from Michigan that came a day later than your submission, and out of guilt for having so many backlogged identification requests, we are posting your image as well.

Thank you for quick response. I was amazed to find your website as I was trying to find out what that interesting caterpillar was. I have never seen anything like it before. Thanks again!

never seen this before
Location: Muskegon, MI
July 30, 2011 5:39 pm
Hi, we found this caterpillar outside our house and i was wondering what it is. I have never seen a caterpillar this large before, it was about 3in. long. sorry i couldn’t get a very good photo of it. i’m excited to find out what it is.
Signature: Thanks, Katherine

Four Horned Sphinx

Hi Katherine,
This is the caterpillar of the Four Horned Sphinx or Elm Sphinx.  You can see some nice photos that show the four horns on the head by viewing the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  We are amused that the common name Four Horned Sphinx ignores the prominent caudal horn, and perhaps a more fitting name would be Five Horned Sphinx.

Tomato Hornworm- Not shuttlecock!
Location: Housatonic, Massachusetts.
July 29, 2011 3:13 pm
I know you get hundreds of letters, and I apologize for annoying you!
I must admit, I have learned a LOT- and I mean A LOT from your site. I can now recognize insects/arachnids/etc. (Though, I’m still much better with canine breeds).
Funny story with this is, we were outside playing badmitten. My fiance hit the shuttlecock, which landed on the ground, nothing unusual. I went to pick it up, and noticed it landed right next to this handsome guy!
I was a little shocked, as I have never seen this caterpillar more than three times in my life. I was a little wary of the ’stinger’ but I am certain he was harmless. He was heavy and, might I add, looked quite delicious.
I petted him for a while before letting him go!
So, could you guys confirm my suspicions? Thanks again, and keep up the amazing work!
Signature: Terra

Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Terra,
Many Sphinx Moth Caterpillars look quite similar, and you need to concentrate on the details to get the identifications correct.  We believe we have correctly identified your caterpillar as a Laurel Sphinx,
Sphinx kalmiae, thanks to the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  The blue caudal horn with black markings is correct, as is the black markings on the head, however, the typically black prolegs appear green in your photo.  We will contact Bill Oehlke to get his opinion.

Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar

Could u help me with this bug please?
Location: Bradstown ky
July 29, 2011 11:49 am
My friend found this caterpillar by the creek in our back yard. The closets thing i can find in your section is the Hickory Horned Devil? I am going to try to keep it and watch it transform but need to know what it is and how to take care of it.
Signature: Sue

Pre-Pupal Hickory Horned Devil

Hi Sue,
You are correct.  This is a Hickory Horned Devil, and it is pre-pupal, meaning it is about to pupate.  Hickory Horned Devils pupate underground.  For some reason, this individual did not bury itself.  You can put it in a container with loose earth and lightly bury it.  You will need to keep it from drying out, but the earth should not get soggy.  An adult moth should emerge next June or July.  You should keep it in a sheltered place over the winter that does not get too warm, like an unheated porch or garage.

Caterpillars on the menu
Location: 200km East of Kinshasa
July 29, 2011 12:19 am
Dear Bugman,
Here in Congo there are a few species of caterpillars which are harvested, smoked and sold for food in the local markets. The ones in the photo were taken on the Bateke plateau about 200km east of Kinshasa in mid June when they are in season. Can you help us ID the species or at least the genus ? Thanks !
Signature: Nick

Kanni, or other Giant Silkworm???

Dear Nick,
We are still working on a species or genus identification for you, but we did locate an image online that looked very similar on the African Moths website.  It is the caterpillar of the Pallid Emperor,
Cirina forda, and we have found several references to the caterpillar being edible and eaten.  On the World’s Largest Saturniidae website, we learned:  “In Nigeria the larvae are picked from Sheabutter trees, are called ‘Kanni’, and are widely eaten after being boiled and sun dried. In the Congo the larvae are eaten in “Vegetable Soup”, a valuable human food source.”  We also located this pdf of a technical paper entitled The Protein Quality of Cirina forda …  Caterpillar. We are not confident that the identification is correct, and we are contacting Bill Oehlke to see if he can provide any information.  We will copy him on this response as well.

Bill Oehlke responds
They are either Cirina forda or one of the Imbrasia or Gonimbrasia species. I am pretty sure they are Cirina forda
Bill Oehlke

Request from David Gracer
Hi Daniel,
I’d be most grateful if you’d be willing to either send me Nick’s email or forward this inquiry to Nick, who’d submitted the image from Congo.  I’d love to learn what he’s been seeing and if his interest is research-based.  In any case I’m starting to draw material for the next issue of the Food Insects Newsletter and if Nick would be willing to share his images and notes I think that the community of people involved would be most appreciative.  Data on this kind of food resource is always scant at best.
Thanks a lot,

Thanks much for the information on the caterpillars.
I would be happy to help with images and research.  I am actually an Oceanographer by training and amateur naturalist.  I am located in Kinshasa and have work sites in Bandundu where the caterpillar pictures were taken.  As a Peace Corps Volunteer in the late 80’s in Bandundu, smoked caterpillars were the most affordable animal protein available to us on our modest stipends.  On our last trip to Bukanga Lonzo, last month,  we stayed at the mission there and the good fathers there prepared a nice dish of caterpillars and stewed cassava greens.  Do tell me what kind of data you need and I will try to get it here in Kinshasa and if not too late, in september-october when I plan to go back to Bandundu to monitor our programs there.

Location: fairbanks, ak
July 25, 2011 8:41 pm
hi! i see these little guys in my garden all the time. just curious what kind of caterpillar? it is. it is black with 4 yellow knobs on its back. yellow tufts of hair, 2 antennae on top, 2 on the side, and one on the bottom.
Signature: just curious

Rusty Tussock Caterpillar

Dear just curious,
WE don’t get many insect images from Alaska, and it is always exciting when we do.  This is the Rusty Tussock Moth Caterpillar,
Orygia antigua.  The Forest Health Conditions in Alaska 2003 Google Books website indicates: Rusty Tussock Moth populations were high this year on birch, willow, and blueberries.  Even though larval populations were high, levels of defoliation were low.  The dark hairy caterpillar is about 3 cm long with four yellow ‘tussocks’ of hair along the back, two tufts of dark hair near the head and one more at the rear.  The adult male is an erratic-flying-rusty-brown moth with a white dot and a light brown band on each forewing.  the female is flightless.  The biggest concern from the public was the likelihood of the caterpillar hairs causing irritation and rashes to blueberry pickers, as was published in a local newspaper.  Individuals and medical professionals from rural Alaska made several inquiries concerning the caterpillars’ potential for causing dermatitis.  Medical entomology reference texts indicate that their long hairs, left on plant material, can cause irritation to exposed skin even when not directly exposed to the live caterpillars.”  We rotated your image to make better use of our horizontal format.  The moth is also known as the Common Vapourer according to Inmagine.