Entomology (Study of Bugs)/spiny caterpillar


Spiny caterpillar1
Spiny caterpillar1  
Spiny caterpillar2
Spiny caterpillar2  
This caterpillar was found in southern Ohio in July.  It looks like it was in a defense posture.

Any idea what it is and what kind it morphs into?


ANSWER: Dear Jon - This appears to a caterpillar of one of the buck moths (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae) in the genus Hemileuca - see http://tinyurl.com/jvn9yod for an example. Some of the spines on these caterpillars are venomous, and contact with them can be quite painful - see http://tinyurl.com/kvsfycd

Hope this helps,

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Big moth
Big moth  
QUESTION: Thank you, Ed, that was very helpful.

So could this be the same bug, in September?  This photo was taken just 10 feet from where the first photo was taken.

Dear Don - This moth is not a buck moth, it is in the family Noctuidae and is one of the underwings in the genus Catocola - see http://tinyurl.com/morntm5 for an example. There are several species in this genus whose wing pattern can be very similar, so I would hesitate to say that this is the same species as the one in your image. Buck moths have an entirely different appearance - see http://tinyurl.com/lxv5yka for an example.
Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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