WiseAcre Gardens

north of the adirondacks – wildflowers & perennials that survive winters colder than my wife's feet

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Posted by WiseAcre on Sep 12th, 2009

Caterpillar Conundrum

Sep 12

Monarch butterfly caterpillars are easy to identify. It’s probably the best known and most photographed caterpillar around.

Monarch caterpillar

Hungry Hungry Caterpillar

Monarch caterpillar eating
click for larger size

The Conundrum:
My problem seems to be that no one has posted one like this before. I’ve looked through hundreds of thumbnails and haven’t come across it yet.

unknown caterpillar
click for background image sized 1024 x 768

Whatever it is, it’s a real looker. In both a pretty and a disturbing kind of way. Looking at the back end you can say ‘yep, that’s the rear’ but when you get to the head I bet you do a double take. At least I did since to me it looks like the caterpillar is excreting a Ladybug.

caterpillar with a head end that looks like a ladybug
click for wallpaper sized image

I know there’s a reason for the fancy makeup. Mother Nature wouldn’t stick a Ladybug’s rear end on this caterpillar’s face just for giggles.

caterpillar with a Ladybug head

If you happen to know the identity of this caterpillar please let me know. I’ve come to the point where I give up trying on-line. The next step is to buy a field guide and hope. …and I’m not about to spend money on this clown.

18 Responses

  1. Charlotte Says:

    Wow… amazing!!

  2. tina Says:

    I’ll give it a look in my books. No promises.

  3. mimmylynn Says:

    You know, they are remaking Alice In Wonderland. Tim Burton has some really strange looking characters in all his movies. Maybe this one escaped.

  4. miss m Says:

    Fabulous pics !
    I think cats are the best. They’re just gorgeous.
    I’m leaning towards Eight-spotted Forester (Alypia octomaculata).
    (The moth is lovely too).

  5. Heather Says:

    Cool, not matter what it is!

  6. rainfield Says:

    Both the antennas of the Monarch butterfly caterpillars are pointing up so high, maybe my comment can be sent over through this station.

  7. Sharodindu Pal Says:

    Simply Wow!!!

    Amazing shots….

  8. donna Says:

    Holy smokes. Those are incredible caterpillar photos. Are you sure you aren’t a National Geographic photographer? My first visit here.

  9. Helen at Toronto Gardens Says:

    After spending about an hour looking at pictures of caterpillars on bugnet.org and whatsthatbug.com (because I am addicted to the thrill of identification), I have discovered three things:

    a) life is wondrous in all its variety
    b) you take great pictures
    c) I think your caterpillar is the Pearly Wood-Nymph! Have a look:


  10. sharkbytes Says:

    WiseAcre- You are so BAD for me. You know I can’t let a species go unidentified. I have Peterson First Guide to caterpillars and it seems to unquestionably be the Eight Spotted Forester moth caterpillar. “plant foods include grape, Boston ivy, Virginia creeper. Found at the edge of woods, in vineyards and in cities. The adult moth has a black body and wings with a total of 8 spots: two yellow spots on each forewing and two white spots on each hindwing.”

  11. Monica the Garden Faerie Says:

    I love how monarch caterpillars seem to have two sets of antennae. That orange one is indeed freaky wild. I like it!

  12. Sweet Bay Says:

    I agree with Monica word for word lol.

    Great photos!

  13. Flowergardengirl Says:

    Beautiful pictures and how fun to help identify an unknown of which I do not know but looks like you got help. I had three Monarch caterpillars on my Furr Balls bush today. It felt victorious. I’m going out tomorrow to take pictures.

  14. Jacqueline @ deeprootsathome.com Says:

    Hello, WiseAcre,
    I would like permission to use the shot of the face of the Monarch for a header to a post on raising boys through Nature Study. It would link back to you. I understand If you decline, but I felt I should ask 🙂 Thanks!

  15. Louisa Flintoft Says:

    Hello. I am the Chief Editor of the journal Nature Reviews Genetics. One of our authors would like to use the great picture of a Monarch butterfly caterpillar at the top of this page in his article. If you are willing in principle, please could you email me so that we can discuss terms? Many thanks!

  16. kc Says:

    i found one today its so different looking never seen one before tell now.

  17. Sheryl Says:

    After a search of monarch caterpillars, I found the photo above to be one I enjoy painting. Thought I would give you a email to be sure you are ok with that. I’ve been painting with acrylics for about 3 years and thought I would enjoy painting a caterpillar and that is what has brought me to the photo above.

    I would be more than willing to refer back to your wonderful site/blog if you so desire.

  18. WiseAcre Says:

    Feel free to paint away without any conditions. A mention of the photo that inspired you would be appreciated but there is no need to.