Texas Gardening forum: Black caterpillar everywhere

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Name: Betsy
Texas (Zone 9a)
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piksihk
Apr 25, 2014 2:53 PM CST
Past few days black caterpillars on plants, crawling up the side of house, mating?,
Thumb of 2014-04-25/piksihk/ca0493
Bad cat? Which is it?
What do I use to eradicate them?
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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Apr 28, 2014 8:00 AM CST
Are they bad? What do they grow up to be?
Porkpal
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
May 9, 2014 11:14 AM CST
It kinda looks like the Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar. http://www.squidoo.com/black-fuzzy-caterpillar
--but not really because your caterpillar has thorny/barbed looking spikes. Blinking

Maybe @JRsbugs will know?

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Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
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JRsbugs
May 9, 2014 1:06 PM CST
Thanks for the buzz Christine! I have come across something similar but what that was I don't recall, I think it's a butterfly and not a moth caterpillar.

It's only the adult butterflies which mate, the caterpillar is the 'larva' which will turn into a pupa before it emerges, that's most likely what these were doing, finding a safe place to pupate.

It could be a Buckeye,

http://bugguide.net/node/view/142331

Please don't eradicate them.
[Last edited by JRsbugs - May 9, 2014 1:07 PM (+)]
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Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
May 9, 2014 1:44 PM CST
Thanks Janet. I thought you might know.

Betsy,

I agree with Janet, please don't eradicate.
Buckeyes are beautiful butterflies.
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: josephine
Arlington, Texas (Zone 8a)
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frostweed
May 10, 2014 2:59 PM CST
I think it is the Salt Marsh Moth caterpillar we have them here too. The larva varies in color.

http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Estigmene+acrea&gu...
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Name: Janet Super Sleuth
Near Lincoln UK
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JRsbugs
May 10, 2014 3:19 PM CST
Sorry Josephine, that cat doesn't have branched spines and it has orange spots. All cat larvae vary throughout development.

http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20p?see=I_DLW101_1&res=640

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Salt+Marsh+Moth+caterpilla...
Name: josephine
Arlington, Texas (Zone 8a)
Hi Everybody!! Let us talk native.
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frostweed
May 10, 2014 3:41 PM CST
Well, maybe it is not Salt Marsh, but the way she describes is how the moth caterpillars behave, the Buckeyes don't come in those large numbers, that I know of. Smiling
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Name: Margaret
Near Kamloops, BC, Canada (Zone 3a)
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mcash70
May 12, 2014 9:13 AM CST
@mellielong Maybe Melanie will know what the caterpillars are. nodding
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
May 12, 2014 9:20 AM CST
Strange things do happen these days it seems; last year we had so many caterpillars in the trees that the ground was black with a coating of castings everywhere. We had large amounts of butterflies last year too, various kinds. This year we have more birds around than I ever remember, but not so many bugs Whistling Mother Nature is wonderous.

May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Margaret
Near Kamloops, BC, Canada (Zone 3a)
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mcash70
May 12, 2014 9:24 AM CST
I agree " Mother Nature is wonderous." She is indeed! Big Grin
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
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mellielong
May 12, 2014 2:58 PM CST
Well, I'm no expert on Texas caterpillars because frankly, you guys get a LOT of different kinds of stuff out there but I would lean toward a moth of some kind. Hard to tell how big they are from the photo, though. I'd say if they're not eating all your plants down to the stem or covering your house, just leave them alone. That being said, every so often we get invaded by Tussock moths here at my house and they do eat anything and they do build little cocoons all over the house, the boat, the travel trailer, etc. I just go around the house, knock them to the ground and step on them. I can't afford to use chemicals because I could possibly kill all my good caterpillars. Or if you're squeamish, you could knock them into a bucket of water (some may still manage to climb out so watch them).

Oh and like Janet said, caterpillars don't mate - they wait until they're in adult form to do that (butterfly or moth). They probably are looking for a place to build their pupa. So unless they're covering your house - and I've totally been there - I'd just leave them alone. Or maybe you could compromise and leave a few to keep the population going.
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Name: Betsy
Texas (Zone 9a)
Christmas time is here!
Region: Texas Daylilies Native Plants and Wildflowers Amaryllis Cottage Gardener Container Gardener
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piksihk
May 18, 2014 4:43 PM CST
I've left them alone --- they kinda disappeared now.
God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars. ~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Martin Luther
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
May 18, 2014 4:53 PM CST
Have you noticed an increase in moths? Hilarious! Some moths can take a while to come out and don't come out all at once so it's possible you wouldn't even notice them.
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