Help Me Identify a Critter, Please

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Anianna
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Help Me Identify a Critter, Please

Post by Anianna » Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:34 pm

My kid brought caterpillars home from school and was told they are "tomato caterpillars" but they are not hornworms. I've been to several caterpillar identification sites and through lists of caterpillars, but I have not been able to identify them. I was hoping some fellow gardeners may be familiar with them.

These guys are grey and appear to be hairless. The larger one appears to have what looks like a thorn on its last segment. The smaller one is a darker grey and is about an inch long. The bigger one is a lighter grey and is about two inches long. They both appear to be segmented and have a tiny black face. They remind me some of worms from movies like Dune or Tremors. These guys have those stalky little caterpillar feet, though.

I'll try to get pictures later. Any speculation I can look into at this point would be appreciated. I just want to know what we have here.
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Re: Help Me Identify a Critter, Please

Post by Anianna » Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:30 pm

Pictar (larger one):

Image
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Re: Help Me Identify a Critter, Please

Post by CryHavoc » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:18 pm

If it was greener, I'd say it's what we call a Tomato Worm here around Illinois.

EDIT: Ha! I guess I ought to read what you wrote instead of just looking at the subject line and the picture you posted. Sorry about that.
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Re: Help Me Identify a Critter, Please

Post by Real_Ale_Act » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:19 am

That is weird.

But I have to say, I've never seen a tomato hornworm that wasn't green. Also that one has several other significant differences: the biggest one is that it has no white stripes. That caterpillar actually looks exceptionally like a dried stick on some kinds of plant.

I found this one pic of a "sweet potato" hornworm that isn't green. Never seen that before, but your caterpillar doesn't look like that either.
Image


So I looked up "horn caterpillar" on GIS, and I found someone else that had found a horned caterpillar and went to the internet to find out what the heck it was... which led me to this: many kinds of sphinx moth have horned caterpillars. Here's a pic of another one, that's not much like yours, but more like it than I think it's like a tomato hornworm. Mostly the reason I think it's more like yours is the small head.
Image

This pic came from a science educational blog. I think it's a good bet that the kit your kid's teacher got has some variety of these guys. I know it's not an exact match, but the answer I found said that even same species ones look very different. And there are many kinds of sphinx moths out there.



... *shudder* I hate tomato hornworms. Yea verily, how I look forward to having chickens just so I can feed the worms to them.
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Re: Help Me Identify a Critter, Please

Post by Anianna » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:22 am

We were told that the food my son was given has the water they need in it and not to give them additional water. Both of his little buggies keeled over and they look shrunken like they are dehydrated. I don't know. It's sad his "pets" died, but I'm glad to be free of them. I reminded him not to bring home animals without educating himself first and not without getting permission!

Thanks for the info.
Feed science, not zombies!

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Re: Help Me Identify a Critter, Please

Post by EMEUTIER » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:35 pm

That "critter" my friend is a silkworm.

When growing up at my parents, we had tons of these grubs in the back yard.
We used-to feed them mulberry leaves. They LOVE mulberry leaves. We would leave 3 or 4 in a plastic takeout (Chinese food) container with no lid, throw 5 or six big leaves on them and wait.

After a while they will eventually feel like exploring and we would find them (if not in the container) in strange places behind furniture around the house making a cocoon.
I cant remember how long they stayed in their cocoon for, but when they emerged they had become an ugly moth that cant fly!

At this point, there are two things you can do;
A) soak the cocoon in water to make it easier to separate the strands, and feel proud at having some silk.
and
B) Allow the moths to mate (throw them all in the same plastic container) and get millions of tiny little grubs to start all over again!

This was actually a very fun learning experience as a child as the grubs needed almost no maintenance (as long as you have a mulberry tree) and you got to learn first-hand about the silk-worm's life cycle.

One thing to note though, is that at 'proper' silk farms, they soak the cocoon in hot/warm water before the moth hatches, killing the moth and preventing it from eating a hole through the side of the single strand of silk. So don't expect the silk you gather to actually be useful for anything!
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Re: Help Me Identify a Critter, Please

Post by jhog1 » Fri Mar 18, 2011 8:54 am

Looks like bait !

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Re: Help Me Identify a Critter, Please

Post by Gregory Merlon » Sat Mar 19, 2011 4:31 pm

It actually looks like the tobacco hornworm I raised in my entomology class. The green color that they possess when seen in the wild is from the chlorophyl and other plant pigments they consume; when they are lab-raised, the food they consume is highly processed, typically vegemite, and doesn't contain chlorophyl or those other pigments. It's also noted on the wikipedia page under the larvae section.
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Re: Help Me Identify a Critter, Please

Post by EMEUTIER » Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:44 am

To JoergSprave on YouTube, Tproa wrote: Sir, I tip my hat to you --- slowly, and without any sudden movement....
Image

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