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Small Orange Caterpillars - Automeris io

Small Orange Caterpillars - Automeris io
Hialeah, Miami Dade County, Florida, USA
April 5, 2009
Size: 1/5th of an inch
The eggs were laid on our gate door, and when they hatched, they milled around a little, and then ate their eggshells. They hung out on the door for a while, and have recently begun moving around in single file or double file, bunching up after they have moved a few feet. I don't know what they are, or what they eat, and I want to move them before they starve.

Images of this individual: tag all
Small Orange Caterpillars - Automeris io Small Orange Caterpillars - Automeris io

7746 - Io Moth - Automeris io
see Species Page at MPG (lots of photos here, too). Heppner lists about 100 food plants for Florida, major groups include Red Maple, Birch, Begonia, Hibiscus, citrus, Magnolia, Prunus, Oaks, Rhododendron, Sassafras, Wisteria, etc., etc.

A few years ago my wife and I were in Lake County, Florida and, while I was busy photographing a moth my wife spotted a caterpiller camouflaged with bits of plant material stuck to its body. We took the cat and some of the host plant to Machele White in Lady Lake, who reared the cat and later sent me a nice photo of the adult Southern Emerald Moth. While standing next to a Crepe Myrtle Tree in her yard I complained to Machele about my inability to find larvae, no matter how hard I searched for them. She smiled and told me to turn my head a little to the left and look up a bit. On a leaf not two feet from my eyes were 8-10 Io cats neatly grouped together, with a similar group on a leaf a couple of feet out on the limb. Machele has also had them use Wisteria in her yard. I still have a hard time finding cats.

Silkmoth family caterpilllars
Is what they look like to me. Maybe in the genus Anisota. Give them some oak leaves and see if they will eat that. If not, try a legume like Honey Locust. Maybe put those leaves and any other leaves from the neighborhood in with them and see what, if anything, they will eat. Very poor "moth"ering on the part of the lady moth that laid her eggs there.

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