Banded tussock moth (Halysidota tessellaris) caterpillar with stemmata peeking out from behind the anterior tufts. The second photograph shows the barbed setae, which will eventually be detached and rewoven into the cocoon.
Tag Archives: caterpillar
Found two of these caterpillars on blackberry last week. I really should have brought them back home to see if they would eat morning glory leaves. Apparently they hate morning glory despite being named Schizura ipomoea (and thus traditionally called a morning glory prominent). Also sometimes referred to as the false unicorn prominent. You can distinguish the checkered-fringe from the unicorn prominent (Schizura unicornis) on the basis of head striping (among other differences). But don’t handle them during the identification process: they spray mixture of formic and acetic acid from that dorsal horn on abdominal segment one, and that will hurt and make your skin blister.
According to one study, these caterpillars coat the tissues of freshly-girdled tree stems with fluid. The authors guess that the fluid contains something that blocks the de novo production of chemical defenses in the leaves. This “chew and spit” behavior seems to be common in the family (Notodontidae). More details and papers on the behavior at David Dussourd’s website.
This is a newly-molted variable oakleaf caterpillar (Lochmaeus manteo), with old head capsule still attached. I initially thought the capsule was the head and that the thorax had eyespots, but John and Jane Balaban on Bugguide.net pointed out the obvious to me.
This species sprays formic acid, apparently.
FYI, Al Denelsbeck posted an almost identical image here, complete with close-up of the eyes.
There are two species of moth that commonly mine grape leaves (Vitis spp.) where I live (Pennsylvania), and I think I’ve figured out how to distinguish them. I’m sharing here just in case somebody might be in need of tips.
The one I most commonly see is the grape leaf miner, Phyllocnistis vitifoliella. It has a very prominent, dark frass line in the center of its mine path, and the epidermis is visibly pushed up by the larva. Further images of the mine (and of the adult) can be found on the relevant BugGuide.net page.
Less commonly found, at least in my immediate area, is the American grape leaf miner, Phyllocnistis vitegenella. Unlike the previous species, there’s no visible frass line (the frass is dark and diffusely deposited, I gather), and the path looks more like the glossy residue left by a slug. A further difference is that late-instar P. vitegenella induce leaf margins to curl slightly prior to pupation. You can see that curling on the upper right part of the leaf in the photograph. BugGuide.net has more mine photographs. Photographs of the adults are here (auf Deutsch).
There are reports of a third species in Pennsylvania (and Kentucky), Antispila viticordifoliella, but I haven’t encountered it. So here’s a link to it’s Wikipedia page, with image from that page. Apparently the frass is collected in irregular lines or big clumps. There’s also A. oinophylla, but apparently it hasn’t been found in Pennsylvania (yet?).
If I’ve made any errors in the above, let me know.
Here are photographs of a clump of ectoparasitic larvae I found attached to a small caterpillar. I think they are wasps in the genus Euplectrus (Eulophidae). Females apparently inject hosts with a venom that prevents the caterpillar from molting, thus preventing the caterpillar from shedding the larvae along with the discarded skin. Caterpillar was approximately 12 mm in length. Media, PA.