Pale Yellow Critter with Big Eyespot Found Near Catalpa Tree is a Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

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“I found this little guy in my front yard and can not find out what he is”, states this reader in Anza, California. “I have a big beautiful Catalpa tree that I think he may have fell out of”, she says of the pale yellow caterpillar-like organism pictured below.

“I live in the high deserts of southern California in a little town called Anza”, she continues in her submission. “We are approximately 4000 ft in elevation and above Temecula.”

With regard to trying to identify the caterpillar, she adds that she “even contacted an entomologist at UCR, but no such luck there either.”

“I also planted a bunch of plants to attract pollinators last year. […] I’m super super duper hoping this is one of the giant moths we used to have here. We used to have these amazing giant moths the size of hummingbirds. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any in years: I think it’s because they may be going extinct in my area, due to our summers getting increasingly hotter and our lack of rain.”

“We used to have amazing rain storms throughout our summers. Well that ended a while ago. Now we hardly get any rain at all. So, what do you think? Any ideas? Thank you so much and thank you to my wormy compatriots! Have a great day!”

Based on the photos she sent in (which are absolutely fantastic), specifically the one that shows off the creature’s distinct eye spot (see below), we have concluded that this is a sphinx moth caterpillar.

We think our reader will be happy to know that sphinx moths (which belong to the family of hawk moths), are very large, so they might indeed be the moths she is referring to that she was hoping this caterpillar was.

Likewise, the comparison to hummingbirds was very appropriate, as sphinx moths drink nectar through a long appendage that resembles the beak of a hummingbird.

Additionally, like hummingbirds, they can be lured with sugary water and other treats, and like many species of moths, they are attracted to light.

The caterpillars are completely harmless, and as they usually hatch near their food source, leaving them alone is the best one can do for them (unless they are found in the home of course). But since these were found near a catalpa tree (which sphinx moths have been known to eat from), our reader’s best move would be to leave the caterpillar where she found it.

In conclusion, the pale yellow critter our reader found near her catalpa tree is a sphinx moth caterpillar. We hope this is good news for her, and we wish her the very best!

 

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Pale Yellow Critter with Big Eyespot Found Near Catalpa Tree is a Sphinx Moth Caterpillar
Article Name
Pale Yellow Critter with Big Eyespot Found Near Catalpa Tree is a Sphinx Moth Caterpillar
Description
"I found this little guy in my front yard and can not find out what he is", states this reader in Anza, California. "I have a big beautiful Catalpa tree that I think he may have fell out of", she says of the pale yellow caterpillar-like organism pictured below.
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Author: Worm Researcher Anton

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