Mystery Caterpillar on Staghorn Sumac

jibd(6)August 17, 2011

Hi everyone,

I found some cool caterpillars on a small sumac tree yesterday and decided to bring them in. I had hoped that maybe they were early instar hickory horned devils. . .no such luck. But I still think I'll raise them to see what they are! In the mean time, here are some links to pictures of them. I'd love to hear some ideas as to what they are!

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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I'm not sure what staghorn sumac looks like, but are you sure that's what the plant is? The caterpillar in the first picture is a question mark, and the two in the second picture appear to be also - they might possibly be red admirals.
The plant must be something in the Urticales order, like nettles, false nettles, elms, hackberry/sugarberry, and mulberries.
Question marks are beautiful butterflies!


    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 10:13AM
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tucker_sp(Z4 MN)

Misssherry - you're right - those are elm leaves. Sumacs have compound leaves without the double teeth on the edges. If they have teeth, like staghorn, the teeth are simple.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 11:51AM
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Miss Sherry is right. Those are question mark caterpillars. The plant is an elm, which is a favorite of the question mark.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 4:38PM
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Thank you so much! I've gotten better at IDing trees, but I obviously still have a lot to learn. I'm really excited now! I've seen question marks before but have never had the chance to view them as well as I will, now that I have caterpillars. This is my first year raising caterpillars, and it's a whole new kind of fascinating. Geez-- I was expecting some kind of generalist moth. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 5:38PM
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