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To Identify Your Larva, Let it Grow

We get a lot of inquiries from readers wanting identification of (not-so) creepy crawlies, and we do our best to answer these. To do this we use information such as the geographic location in which the animal was found, what food sources are readily available to the animal, whether it was found indoors or outdoors, and what it looks like. However, much of the time we are offering our very best educated guesses, because so many larva and caterpillars look alike. This is not surprising, as current estimates state that there are between 2 million and 30 million species of insect and approximately 75% of those go through a larval stage. This means that there are between 1.5 million and 22.5 million different caterpillars and larvae out there. So, some of these are bound to look alike. Identification is further complicated by the fact that many larva go through several instars (or phases), and a single animal may look quite different over time. Continue reading [...]

Possible Cutworm Found in Texas Garden

A reader residing in South Texas was looking for a good place to plant her garden, and she found several caterpillars in the soil. She is wondering what type of creature they may be, and if they will harm or help her vegetable garden. She has included a good photograph, which gives us an idea of how big the caterpillar is and its color.Ideally, all caterpillars would stay on the plant that they like most to eat, as food source is often the biggest clue as to a caterpillar’s species. When trying to identify a caterpillar without a known food source, a good first step is to look for identifying characteristics. These include things like hair, legs, special spots or markings, body and/or head shape, unusual colors, and horns or other protrusions. For example, the caterpillar for the Continue reading [...]

Want to Get Rid of Them? Just Make Them Uncomfortable.

We received a rather brief inquiry from a reader, with no accompanying picture. The question is: “How do you get rid of them in your home or yard?”Amazingly enough we can answer this question even though we don’t know what critter she’s asking about. In almost every case, our advice to people seeking to remove creepy-crawly-critters is going to include these two steps:Physically remove said critters from the area where you do not want them Make that area in hospitable to that creature (often by removing the critters’ food source)Generally, it really is that simple. If our reader doesn’t want to see so many earthworms, then she can try to provide better drainage in her yard so they won’t want to come to the surface if it rains. If she sees too many carpet beetle Continue reading [...]

Waxworms Need to be Happy, but Not Too Happy

Today, we will address a question from a reader in Germany. She raises waxworms to use as bait when trout fishing. She’s having no problem keeping them alive. The issue is that the wax worms start to spin silk for cocoons before she has a chance to go fishing! Once the worms start their journey to moth, they’re no longer useful as trout bait. She wonders if we can give her some advice as to how to persuade these little guys not to continue on to their next life stage. Continue reading [...]

Caterpillars on Acacia Tree are Likely Not a Threat

Recently, a reader wrote to us from Bronberg Ridge in Pretoria. She states that she saw some worms on the leaves of her haak-en-steek Acacia tree. These worms were hanging, suspended on a thread, from the branches of the tree. The worms had no hairs, were pale green, and were about 20 mm (a little more than ¾”) in length. She wonders if we know what these creatures are and if she should be concerned about them hurting her tree.We love questions like this, because they allow us to learn things that are a bit outside our comfort zone. First, let’s look into the location. Knowing where a reader lives helps us to figure out what creatures are common to that area. In this case, we’re not sure where Bronberg Ridge in Pretoria is located. A quick google reveals that it is in the Gauteng Continue reading [...]

Mysterious Visitor is a Hornworm Caterpillar

A woman sent us the photograph below of a handsome green critter she found in her garden, with the simple request that we identify it. Luckily, it’s a great photograph, and gives us some great clues about its identity. We can see several distinct characteristics to help us identify the species. The way the critter is segmented is helpful, as are the black spots on its body. But the most telling traits are the horn seen at the top of the picture and the stripes on the side of its body. Continue reading [...]