Attack of the 3″ Monsters!!!

Recently, there have been sightings by the citizens of Brandon and the surrounding area of large caterpillars. They come in a variety of colors but all have one thing in common. The juveniles have a horn protruding from their rear and the adults have what appears to be an eyespot on their rear where the horn has fallen off during a molting. They all have faces that can retract and bring in the first three pairs of their legs. Often spotted on either Virginia Creeper or Leafy Spurge, these caterpillars are the current stage for what will grow to be either Sphinx or Hawk moths.

They all have some sort of side markings on the critters, ranging from white slashes on the red/pink/green ones to having red or white dots on black/brown caterpillars. They may be seen creeping through the grass and not on one of the above- mentioned delicacies, but this is just their migration to the soil in which they burrow and then pupate over winter and come out as moths in the spring.

Often, the red/pink/green ones are found to be more available on the Virginia Creeper, as where the black/brown ones are found on Leafy Spurge. Interestingly enough, these latter ones were introduced by an initiative from the North Dakota Ag. Dept. to act as a biological control to Leafy Spurge, but the other ones are native to Manitoba and are just starting to become more widespread.

If you find that you do not approve of having these finger length long critters, using tongs to pluck them out of the grass or of the Virginia Creeper is easiest, but the bacterial insecticide B.T. would work also as a control measure.

Written by: Dr. Bill Paton and Jonathan Bush