Caterpillar – Moth

by Pat Jaquith

Moth – caterpillar connections are difficult to make! Here are a couple of them that I have (tentatively) matched up and some clues I used.

Snowberry Vashti Sphinx Moth 7.16.20

We found two of these 1.75 inch-long moths resting in full daylight on the garden gate. Where do you start when you want to identify something like this? One clue that they are moths is the fact that moths rest with wings extended; butterflies close their wings. That was helpful in knowing what to search for.

Snowberry Vashti Sphinx Moth caterpillar 9.09.20

Nearly two months after finding the moth, I found this gorgeous gold and green horned caterpillar in the woodland trail I was hiking 15 miles away from the garden. In searching for its identification, I had two clues that were useful: I noticed that about the only plants that it might feed on in that area was Snowberry. The other useful thing was, I had a handy measuring tool with me! Some people have a quarter in their pocket to place by their subject, but I’ve found that in the time it takes me to locate something like that, my subject has disappeared.

Caterpillar of Ranchman’s Tiger Moth 4.26.16
Ranchman’s Tiger Moth 7.17.20

The day I found the caterpillar, there were many of them crawling about on grasses and weeds in an open area in the State Lands area west of Farm to Market. Those long white hairs were a useful feature when looking for the identification. Hairy caterpillars sometimes cause an uncomfortable rash if you handle them, so I don’t make a habit of touching them. The moth was taking its daytime rest, wings extended, on a plant stem in an open area in the Kuhns WMA on the east side of Farm to Market. Perhaps next spring there will be some of the hairy caterpillars in that area. Maybe I’ll check in late April.

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