We recently heard from a reader in North Texas. She sent us a photo of a worm-like organism perched on a stick accompanied by a few questions. She wants to know what the specimen will turn into and what its host plant is. She explained that she found the creature on her patio. Here is the photograph:
The creature has a black head and a black body covered in thin white hairs. Its body has 3 yellow stripes running down the length of its back and tiny yellow and black spots in between the stripes. Compared to the hand in the photograph, we would guess that this creature is 1-2 inches long. We are confident that this specimen is a caterpillar, which means it is the larva of a moth or butterfly.
Despite this caterpillar’s distinct features (stripes, spots, and hair) we aren’t sure which species of caterpillar our reader has discovered. The difficult thing about identifying caterpillars is that while two caterpillars of the same species might vary in appearance, two caterpillars of two different species could look identical. While caterpillars with more distinct features are usually easier to recognize, it isn’t always an easy or doable task. Additionally, the answer to our reader’s two questions are tied up in the identity of this mysterious specimen. Once you know the species of a caterpillar, you can determine what kind of butterfly or moth it will turn into, and you will be able to know its host plant since most species of caterpillars only have a few possible host plants (plenty of species just have one singular host plant!) Sadly, since we aren’t able to identify this creature, we can’t be of much help answering our reader’s questions.
To wrap one, one of our readers found a black caterpillar on her patio in North Texas. Unfortunately we don’t know what type of caterpillar it is. If any of our readers recognize this specimen, we invite them to comment on this article. Also, if our reader is still curious about the identity of this creature, she can send us a list of the plants around her patio so that we can work backwards from a potential host plant to figure out what this mystery larva is!