We are always having to rescue one bug or another whenever we go outside. This involves rescuing an ant or spider out of the pool to shooing a dragonfly out of the screened patio area. Today was no different, when we walked outside to explore there was a small brown caterpillar climbing up the side of the wall in our pool area. We’ve seen caterpillars like this before, but never knew what they were. The caterpillar was brown with black triangles along both sides of its body. Since we have several plants on our patio we used a dust pan (because it was the closest thing) 🙂 to scoop him up and carry him outside. Just a quick not unless you are sure the caterpillar is harmless you should NEVER handle them, some are poisonous and may bite or sting. Not knowing what kind of caterpillar he was I carried him out to our oak tree and put him on a branch. He was a little scared and he curled up into a tight ball. I decided to give him a few minutes to calm down, so I walked away and when I came back to look for him I couldn’t find him on the tree. I looked down and he was crawling along the ground. We observed him for several minutes and what he did was to crawl underneath a pile of leaves. After watching him for about 10 minutes we left him be and he was still under the leaves. This kind of struck me as odd. I’ve never seen a caterpillar act this way. After we did some research about our small brown caterpillar it makes perfect sense now. Here is what we found out about our new little friend.
Yellow Striped Armyworm Facts:
Although finding this little brown caterpillar with black triangles is a pretty cool discovery, it apparently does not bode well for our garden. These little guys are known as garden pests in the Southeastern United States, since we are in Florida that doesn’t make for a happy garden. The name of this new visitor is Yellow Striped Armyworm or Cotton Cutworm. They feed on various plants including alfalfa, asparagus, beans, beets, cabbage, clover, corn, cotton, cucumber, jimsonweed, morning glory, onion, pea, peach, peanut, sweet potato, swiss chard, tobacco, tomato, turnip, wheat, watermelon, wild onion, and most other plants with soft leaves. So in other words pretty much everything we have planted in our garden. They apparently like citronella as well, as we found another Yellow Striped Armyworm on our citronella plants. Since we do not use any pesticides, I see a summer filled with moving these little guys out of our patio and away from the plants.
I have yet to see the moth that they turn into, but we are definitely keeping our eyes open for one. I hope to be able to get a picture so that you can see the caterpillar stage and the moth. In the meantime maybe you will find some of the following helpful in your learning and identification of caterpillars.
Get Hands On Learning:
LeInsect Lore Butterfly Garden with 5 CaterpillarsGet Ready Kids Caterpillar Life Cycle Puppet SetUncle Milton Butterfly Jungle Live Butterfly Habitat
Learn More About Caterpillars and Caterpillar Guide Books:
Caterpillars (Peterson Field Guides: Young Naturalists)Caterpillars, Bugs and Butterflies: Take-Along Guide (Take Along Guides)Moths & Caterpillars of the North Woods (North Woods Naturalist)CaterpillarsA Field Guide to CaterpillarsCaterpillars for ChildrenCaterpillars: Find – Identify – Raise Your OwnPeterson First Guide to Caterpillars of North AmericaSmithsonian Handbooks: Butterflies & Moths