Large green caterpillar GEHP

Pierre A Plauzoles ae779 at
Sat Sep 12 11:02:09 EDT 1998

In a previous article, at BBSRC.AC.UK (Gordon Ramel) says:

>[Karen Delp is] trying to identify this large green caterpillar that [she]
>found on [her] lawn, apparently having fallen from a tree where it 
>appears to be making silk.  It is 4-5 inches long, perhaps an inch in 
>diameter with blue and yellow small spikes.  Toward the front, as 
>further camouflage, about three pair of those spikes look like there are 
ladybugs on them.

It sounds like it might be  member of the genus Hyalophora.  The 
cecropia, ceanothus and Glover's silkmoths (Hyalophora cecropia, H 
gloveri, Heuryalus, respectively) are in that genus and are very close in 
their appearance.  What kind of tree is it on, and what part of the country 
geographically are we talking about?

>I returned this caterpillar to the webbed portion of the tree branch.  Will
>this web harm my tree?


>Will the caterpillar enshrine itself and stay through the winter?

Possibly.  It appears to me that it is pupating.  Once it cocoon is 
finished, it will shed its final skin and become a pupa.  After it is 
finished transforming into a moth, it will emerge from its pupa and break 
out of the cocoon as a big beautiful moth.  This will likely be in the 
late winter or early spring.

>I've not seen such a large one before; is it rare? 

In some areas. yes, but not in others.

>Should I do something more to protect it?

You did just fine.

>(This is more than one question, and I understand that you are busy 
>people--if there is a book I can go to in the local library and learn 
>all about this caterpillar, just point me in the right direction and I 
>shall do so.)  Thanks so much for your help. 

You are welcome.  We are never ALL so busy one of us can't help answer a 
question.  Thanks for trying to answer the questions posed by the 
entomologists of tomorrow.

>This large creature created quite a stir with the neighborhood children and
>I'd like to be able to answer their questions.

Like I said....  Children are always curious, and that is the way they 
learn: by asking questions.  If we adults can't answeer them, we have to 
get help.  Again, thanks.
Pierre Plauzoles   ae779 at
Canoga Park, California

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