Saturday, September 25, 2010

Salt Marsh Caterpillar

salt marsh caterpillar (Estigmene acrea)
My potted tomato plants are gone now.  The other day the leaves were all eaten.  I wondered who did it, but being the end of the season, I just dumped the soil and what was left of the poor plants onto the compost piles. This morning as I watered some  scented geraniums, I noticed this caterpillar.  Looking so cute and fluffy, I asked the resident photograher to photograph it.  It was not until tonight as I was looking up what it actually was that I realized it had eaten the  tomato leaves!  I  think it is a salt marsh caterpillar, the mature larval form of the salt marsh moth (Estigmene acrea).  The larvae are well known for their ability to skeletonize foliage of vegetable plants, one of which is tomato plants.  Doesn't look so cute and fluffy any more.


  1. Is this also what we lovingly call a woolly worm in Camargo?

  2. Although I see that Camargo conducted Illinois' first official Woolly Worm Festival in 2006 (and has annually since, so perhaps we should defer to your identification), I've always thought of the woolly worm as the one with a black section at each end with an orange section in the middle. See, for example, the wikipedia entry for Pyrrharctia isabella