Earlier this week, one of our readers sent us these photographs:
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He explained that he discovered the light brown specimen on his pillowcase before he went to sleep. The creature-in-question is about 1 inch long, and it was the only one that he found. Finally, he said it looks similar to a tomato worm, but it is light brown, not green. He wants to know what this specimen is.
Tomato hornworms are light green, patterned, and can grow up to 4 inches long. Although tomato hornworms have the word “worm” in the name, they are actually caterpillars. They are also known as five-spotted hawkmoth larvae, or their scientific name: Manduca quinquemaculata. We don’t think our reader discovered a tomato hornworm. However, we do think he was onto something. We believe the light brown worm-like organism is also a caterpillar. Figuring out what kind of caterpillar is a whole different challenge!
There are more than 20,000 known species of caterpillars around the world! Some species are easier to identify than others. Distinctive features like knobs, horns, and vibrant patterns often make a caterpillar easier to identify. The caterpillar our reader found has a very plain appearance. As you can see, it is simply light brown. It doesn’t have any remarkable spots, coloring, or tufts of hair. So, what is this light brown caterpillar?
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Unfortunately, we don’t know the exact species of this caterpillar.. We think it is likely a cutworm, which is the name for the larvae of a number of species of night-flying moths. They can vary in coloring and patterning, and generally grow to be 1 or 2 inches long. Their name is derived from the manner in which they each foliage, chewing through the stem and “cutting” off the plant near the ground!
To conclude, we believe a reader found a cutworm, which is a name to describe some species of caterpillars, on his pillow. We have no idea why this specimen was on his bed!