Hymenocallis caterpillars

Adam Fikso adam14113@ameritech.net
Sat, 15 Jan 2011 19:23:28 PST
hi.  TheRe's a website called What's That Bug?  whic I've found usefuL for 
identification of insects and caterpillars.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "P. C. Andrews" <pcamusa@hotmail.com>
To: <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Saturday, January 15, 2011 7:55 PM
Subject: [pbs] Hymenocallis caterpillars

> Every few years we get a huge number of very large black caterpillars (up 
> to 6 inches) with narrow white/yellow bands that eat the endemic 
> hymenocallis in the dunes here.  Its the only pest I've seen eat these 
> plants.  They've already eaten a couple of thousand to the ground just in 
> the two hundred yards or so near us.  The smaller caterpillars eat the top 
> leaf surface and leave the lower surface hanging down like floppy pieces 
> of gauze while the larger ones eat the whole leaf.  I've noticed for the 
> first time this year that the caterpillars are also eating the large seeds 
> which are still lying on the surface of the sand and starting to sprout. 
> It looks like there won't be a new generation of hymenocallis this year.
> I'm still trying to ID the caterpillars.  I have been told that they 
> belong to what is locally called the money moth (Ascalapha odorata) which 
> is a nocturnal black moth the size of a small bat.  The caterpillar looks 
> quite different from the money moth photos I've found.
> Has anyone else had experience with these critters or is there an 
> entomologist on the list willing to take a look at a photo?
> Regards!
> Phil
> Taking a brief break in zone 11 (ostensibly)
> 26.608 N, 77.016 W
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