A reader reached out to us from Long Island, New York and asked the classic question, “What is this worm?” She included a photograph that shows a yellow worm-like organism on an orange flower. She explained that the flower in the photograph is a pumpkin flower. The creature has a thin white stripe running down its body, and several minuscule black dots. The specimen has three black legs near its head and two yellow legs at its rear. We believe that this specimen is either a cucumber beetle larva or an inchworm.
Cucumber beetles are found throughout North America. They feed on cucurbit vegetables, which are plants that belong to the gourd family, including cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and beans. While cucumber beetle larvae feed on the roots of the host plants, adults eat the leaves, vines, and fruits. Cucumber beetle larvae range in color from off white to yellow. They typically have dark brown heads and tails. Although the crop suggests that this could be a cucumber beetle larva, the description isn’t exactly a match.
We think the description lines up more with an inchworm. Inchworms are the larvae of Geometer moths, which means they are caterpillars. There are over 20,000 species of inchworms! Inchworms of different species can look quite different. They can be yellow, brown, green, or even grey. Though they may vary in color, inchworms are relatively easy to recognize because they have legs at both ends of their bodies, but none in the middle. They get the name “inchworm” because they measure the earth when they walk, moving forward first by clasping with their front legs and moving their back legs forward, then clasping with their back legs and reaching forward with their front legs. We can see both sets of legs on the specimen our reader found, and therefore we believe it is an inchworm!
In conclusion, one of our readers found a yellow worm-like organism on a pumpkin flower. We have identified this specimen as an inchworm.