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Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Worm Too Early?

March 9. Even though it was a warm day, it seemed pretty early for caterpillars to be out running around in the road. Living dangerously, I'd say, both in terms of the temperature and the location.

Virginia Tiger Moth

As for the location... who knows. Although I had to get help from bugguide to identify this, it turns out it's not too early. These caterpillars may be seen any time throughout the winter, and the moths emerge in May.

What is it? It's a Virginia Ctenucha (say ten-OOCH-ah) moth, sometimes called Virginia tiger moth. I've seen the adults, but I don't have any pictures. I'll have to correct that. They are beautiful and they fly in the daytime, unlike most moths.

The wings are a velvety brownish black, the head is orange, and behind that a small blue body. The antennae are gorgeous and feathery. The moth is just over an inch long.

Since getting help with the ID, I've found some other information, and the caterpillars can be dark like this one, or white, and any of the white can be yellow.

Here's a wonderful post about them from Prairie Haven, with lots of good pictures, instead of my poor one.

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vanilla said...

Like you, I would have thought it was flirting with danger this time of year. Who knew they could do winters?

The Furry Gnome said...

I see lots of those Ctenucha moths in our garden in June, but I've never seen the caterpillar.

Secondary Roads said...

I'd have thought the same. You seem to be in process of becoming a bugologist.

Sharkbytes said...

Vanilla- Maybe it's part of what should help me recognize them in the future. "Likely winter wanderer"

Stew- I didn't know it. Had to get help for ID

Chuck- so NOT. But people are always helpful.

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