BIG Black Caterpillar

Doug Yanega dyanega at
Mon Oct 19 09:43:31 EDT 1998

>In a previous article, 73530.317 at CompuServe.COM (John Lemen) says:
>>Searched all over the net, but couldn't find any info on a large
>>black caterpillar - approx 3" long and .5" diameter. It had
>>bristles on each segment - resembled a bottle brush ! We live in
>>Omaha, NE a couple hundred yards from the Missouri River; lot has
>>many trees, mostly bur oaks.
>Do you have any catalpas in the area?  The caterpillar of the catalpa
>sphinx comes close to that description, as does the white-lined sphinx,
>which feeds on a large number of plants.  If it *was* hairy, maybe it was
>a tiger moth?  "Black and three inches long" makes me think of those two
>sphingids, but they are hairless (at least their hairs are microscopic,
>if they have any), but you say "bristles", which stumps me.  Maybe it was
>a saturniid?  Some of them get pretty big and some do feed on oak.

That sounds like the larva of Hypercompe scribonia, a big leopard-spotted
tiger moth - there's nothing else around that looks as much like a bottle
brush as that caterpillar.


Doug Yanega    Depto. de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciencias Biologicas,
Univ. Fed. de Minas Gerais, Cx.P. 486, 30.161-970 Belo Horizonte, MG   BRAZIL
phone: 31-499-2579, fax: 31-499-2567  (from U.S., prefix 011-55)
  "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
        is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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