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White larva - Pyramidobela angelarum

White larva - Pyramidobela angelarum
Alameda County, California, USA
June 16, 2009
Size: ~8 mm
I peeled apart two terminal buddleia leaves that were stuck together, and this creature fell out. Checking 15 pages of bugguide's larva archive turned up nothing similar.

Images of this individual: tag all
White larva - Pyramidobela angelarum White larva - Pyramidobela angelarum

Moved from Moths. Congrats to "G Whiz" on the successful rearing and for finally getting an ID, and to Chuck for correctly deducing the ID. See BP's new comment here:


Moths have emerged. Photos start here: . A soil-and-leaf mixture was available, but I think the caterpillars pupated in rolled leaf edges.

Part 2
The story continues at .


Hostplant Data
There are a few references that may help, including a Wikipedia List of Lepidoptera that feed on Buddleja, but it's easier just to run a query of the HOSTS Caterpillar Hostplant Database (I searched on "Buddle", because of disagreement on spelling between "Buddleia" and "Buddleja"), which shows there are only 5 species reported on Buddleja in the Nearctic. Of those, Euphydras chalcedonica can be eliminated because there are images available online showing it looks quite different. Argyrotaenia citrana (or Argyrotaenia franciscana as it's called by BugGuide) is included because it eats just about everything- not exactly a Buddleja specialist. Oidaematophorus lienigianus is a similar story (albeit with fewer species). Of course, that doesn't necessarily eliminate them.

My totally subjective hunch based only on circumstantial evidence is that Pyramidobela angelarum would be a decent guess: I found this article that reasonably matches your find as far as behavior goes.

Hmm . . .
Thank you, Chuck, and everyone else. P. angelarum is the only species that came up in a HOSTS search restricted to the U.S. The article you provided describes the leaf damage perfectly, but it says the worm is green.

I'm still baffled.

restricted search
You have to be careful with that restricted search, because species that occur in the US may only be listed under "Nearctic" or "North America." It's not a perfect database--I hope they deal with that issue eventually.

I think there's a good chance that Chuck is right, because larvae definitely can change color as they develop. For example, the redbud leaffolder starts out plain green but later develops striking black stripes.

that article refers to Pyramidobela angelarum larvae as green. Not to say that they don't change color at some point in their development, but something to consider. "G Whiz," if no one is able to offer a positive ID on this larva, the best thing to do would be to find some more and raise them to see what kind of moth they become. Someone would almost certainly be able to identify the adult--especially since Chuck has given us a short list of suspects to work from--and you would be adding great information to BugGuide.

Is this practical?
How does one raise larvae? You can probably deduce that I'm strictly an amateur at entomology. I don't even know what these larvae pupate on.

There is a nice article on raising caterpillars here. You certainly don't have to be an entomologist to do it--all it takes is being a good "parent." My guess would be that these larvae pupate in soil.

It looks similar to one I found here

Dead-wood borer moth?
It's close, but the guide page for that moth says the larva has a dark anal region and the range is eastern North America. My larva was all white (except its spots) behind the head and was western.

There's definitely dead wood nearby. Some of it shelters a colony of salamanders.

This is the second time a tentative identification has referred one of my animals to an impossible range. Maybe ranges aren't known so well because too few people go peeking under leaves and rocks?

There is still value to be had... Sam's suggestion. Although range data is not always 100% accurate, it is usually a good idea (as you've done) to rule out those species which are not known from your area. However, if you see an image which looks strikingly similar to your own, but it is not a species which occurs locally, that can be a great clue to start investigating if there are other species in that genus (or tribe, subfamily, or family) which do fall into an appropriate range and still share the same visual characteristics.

I'm afraid I don't know hardly anything about moths, so I can't help you... just wanted to clarify one reason that people on this site might reference images of similar-looking species, even if they are not likely to be found in your area.


Well, honestly I didn't even look at the ranges. I was just guessing by looks.

moth is all i can tell