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Mystery Caterpillar Revealed: Spilosoma virginica

The Mystery Caterpillars emerged from their cocoons over the course of several days, whereupon we finally identified them as Yellow Bear caterpillars who becameĀ Virginia Tiger Moths.

Moth 1, with wonderful antenna fringes identifying him as a male:

Spilosoma virginica 1 - right

Spilosoma virginica 1 – right

Moth 2, a female with smaller antenna:

Spilosoma virginica 2 - right

Spilosoma virginica 2 – right

Moth 3, another male:

Spilosoma virginica 3 - dorsal

Spilosoma virginica 3 – dorsal

The underside is diagnostic (ignore the crud on the aquarium glass):

Spilosoma virginica 3 - ventral

Spilosoma virginica 3 – ventral

We set each one on the goldenrod plant inside the garden gate, whereupon they charged up in the sun for an hour or so, then flew off about their business. They may eat a few leaves in the garden, but they’re not particularly harmful to anything and entitled to a peaceful life.

I must organize all their pictures into a life history.

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  1. #1 by Keith Ward on 2017-09-09 - 08:40

    Ah, good to know. So many butterflies and moths that are have fairly generic stages/instars making them hard to ID.

    • #2 by Ed on 2017-09-10 - 13:29

      The caterpillars came in three different colors, which certainly confused us. Apparently, that’s perfectly normal for these critters: they all turn into the same thing when they grow up.

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