The weather has cooled off considerably, yesterday was steady rain all day and today is humid … and suddenly we are noticing fat caterpillars. here are a couple that are quite interesting, and in the case of one really spectacular.
The flashy one is the yellow. hairy chap heading this post. He was crawling across a rough stone wall surrounding a Japanese Acer and going at quite some speed. I am fairly sure this is a Dagger Moth caterpillar … the various species lay eggs on a wide variety of trees, one of which is maple and a Maple tree overhangs the spot it was observed. About 6cm or more in length and bright yellow with black setae. The species is either the American Dagger Moth or the Cottonwood Dagger Moth, both of which are similar and found on Maples … on balance I am opting for the American Dagger Moth (Acronicta americana). The adult is a largemoth of the usual dull colouration with a wingspan of about 6cm.
- “The larvae are solitary defoliators on various deciduous trees, in particular maple and birch. They are covered in long white or pale yellow hairs, with several tufts of longer, black hairs. There is a single brood each year, which overwinter as pupae.”
- “The young caterpillar is densely covered with yellow setae. The older caterpillar’s setae are either pale yellow or white. All instars have thin, black setae on the first and third abdominal segments. On the eighth abdominal segment, there is one tuft of black setae. The caterpillar will reach a length 50 mm (2.0 in)” (from which we deducetghis was a relatively young specimen).
Secondly the tricky chap … this green caterpillar was on our culinary sage plants steadily chomping away at some leaves. We have been unable to get a handle on the species but for now have put it amongst the group of Looper Moth caterpillars with are similar in form and several species of which will happily eat sage leaves. If anyone can help with the ID we’d be pleased to hear from you and will update this note.
The caterpillar is about 3cm in length with alternating bands of dark and pale green.