Green Caterpillar with Brown Saddle Markings
Sandy found this green caterpillar with brown markings on its back in one of our apple trees on August 10, 2011. Sam called it a “Jaguar Green Caterpillar” and wanted to hold it, so these pictures were taken of the caterpillar in the palm of her hand. It was a little guy, only about 1/2 inch long.
This was surprisingly easy to find on BugGuide; I just searched for “green caterpillar” and scanned quickly through a couple of pages of images until I found what looked like an exact match. It looks to be Oreana unicolorella, one of the Pyralid moths.
This moth was pretty tiny, on the order of about 5-8 mm long. I didn’t even realize it was a moth at first. When I checked the jar to see if the caterpillar had come out, I thought it was just a chip of dead leaf.
The thing is, this moth is a lot more brown than I expected. The additional pictures I’m finding online are more gray and less brown than this one. Still, it’s not so far off in coloration as to be completely impossible, so I guess it’s at least in the genus Oreana, if not necessarily O. colorella.
I’m really not finding much information about these moths in any case. They have been reported eating leaves of apple (obviously, since that’s where Sandy found this one), maple, birch, hawthorn, oak, willow, basswood, and elm. About the only common local hardwood tree that this leaves out is aspen, so they have a lot of choice of things to eat around our house.