A little while back, a reader wrote to us about a strange, spiky creature he found in his greenhouse. The creature was about four inches (10 centimeters) long, and it had a red head with spikes on it. (It was “spikey,” to use the common misspelling.) The creature also had pincers near its mouth and three pairs of legs on the front portion of its body. The reader only ever refers to what he found as a “creature,” indicating that he doesn’t know what it is (which of course he wants to know), and he also asked if he should be concerned about planting vegetables again in his gardening operation in light of the creature he found. The reader did not send a picture, making a difficult question even harder to answer, but we are all but certain he found some sort of caterpillar. So, the question before us is: what kind of grey caterpillar with a spiky, red head did our reader find, and is harmful to his garden?
A reader recently sent us a picture of a blue caterpillar with small black spikes on its back and large red spikes on its head. The blue, spiky caterpillar also appears to have two black eyes (even though these are actually not functional eyes, but eyespots, a defense mechanism some caterpillars use to scare away predators). The reader only sent the picture of the spiky, blue caterpillar and this deceptively simple question: “what is this?” Good question.
A very helpful reader wrote to us in reference to an article we published last year. It was an article about what a curious reader thought was a worm, but was in fact probably a caterpillar based on the physical description we were sent. The caterpillar was long, thick, and spiky. It was also primarily black, although the caterpillar had white dashes on its body and an orange stripe down its back. The reader who more recently wrote to us sent us a picture of what seems like the same caterpillar. We didn’t have a picture of the spiky caterpillar in the old article, so the reader sent us one. Thanks!