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Oregon Cycnia larva - Cycnia oregonensis

Oregon Cycnia larva - Cycnia oregonensis
Town of Baileys Harbor, Hidden Corners Sanctuary, Door County, Wisconsin, USA
August 18, 1996
Found fuzzy white larva eating Spreading Dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium) August 12, 1996. Did not photograph the white instar, but when it changed to gray, I did. It pupated August 25, 1996, overwintered in refrigerator. Adult eclosed May 28, 1997.

Images of this individual: tag all
Oregon Cycnia larva - Cycnia oregonensis Oregon Cycnia - Cycnia oregonensis

Janice, if you find the time could you add
a comment or two with your thoughts to the image here? Thanks, from your Skokie pals!

Unidentified caterpillar
Hi John and Jane! I will have to get back to you later...after I've done some digging into my data base. If I don't come up with something there, I'll send your photo to an expert in Madison who has done much research on insects that eat Milkweed. More later....

We didn't reply to the next comment
because if we do, you won't be able to edit it if you would like. The comment would make much more sense placed on the other image. It's a little confusing here on yours - seems to imply that yours might not be Cycnia. Your original text on this image refers to a white instar which is what started us off in the first place. Thanks for the effort.

Caterpillars on Milkweed
I've searched through my data base and found a white fuzzy immature Spilosoma virginica, which turned reddish brown when it matured.

Below is a quote from Andrew Williams regarding the white fuzzy caterpillar. Andrew is president of the Wisconsin Entomological Society, an honorary fellow in the UW-Entomology Dept. and founder and president of Prairie Biotic Research. He does field work all over Wisconsin, with food plant specificity and parasitoidism being of great interest to him.

“There is a report from 1920 of C. oregonensis ‘bred from Asclepias sp.’ in Iowa. I have not found C. oregonensis using any species in Asclepias. Cycnia tenera has been reported to use various species in Asclepias, but some of these reports are second hand and perhaps refer to an erroneous report in which this caterpillar was confused by that author with C. inopinatus. I haven't yet sorted this all out. I myself have found C. tenera larvae, even small larvae, feeding on Asclepias syriaca, 4 larvae on 2 occasions, both of which times the milkweed grew in immediate proximity to the Apocynum on which the moth probably laid her eggs. Errant larvae can develop on A. syriaca, at least. I haven't yet found C. tenera larvae on other species of Asclepias. I don't think this photo is of C. tenera (body hairs too short relative to head and tail-end hairs, color seems to vary on one animal, color too pale for a last instar, which this appears to be by its size). This photo could well be C. oregonensis. There is a reliable report of another "milkweed feeder" switching from Apocynum to Asclepias tuberosa -- Saucrobotys futilalis (Pyralidae) has been reported to make this switch. Indeed, because so many 'milkweed specialists' feed on both Asclepias spp. and Apocynum spp., habitually or occasionally, I include all these plants and their composite fauna in my study of isconsin's ‘milkweed fauna.’ Then again, this photo might be a younger instar of Spilosoma virginica, which has very wide feeding interests. Though I have not yet found S. virginica feeding on A. tuberosa, I have found and reared out these larvae on five other Asclepias species. You've heard me say it before, Janice, but a photograph is often only tentative. The discoverer had a great opportunity to rear out that caterpillar and tell us the truth. As it is, we are left tantalyzed, guessing. If the photographer did rear the caterpillar out, I'd like to contact the photographer, regardless of what state he/she may live in.”

Caterpillars on Milkweed
Here's an additional statement from Andrew Williams regarding the Cycnia caterpillars.

"That gray fuzzy caterpillar with rather stiff, relatively short fuzz with a hint of brown in the gray color is a fine example of the last instar of Cycnia oregonensis. The food plant it is on is Apocynum cannabinum and the caterpillar is feeding in the posture typical of these last instars: head-outward-underside of leaf. These caterpillars may be almost black, or much paler than this one -- this is the most frequent shade of a normal range. Earlier instars are consistently pale yellow. Cycnia tenera, which feeds in the same manner on the same foodplants (Apocynum spp), has white fuzz until its last instar when it turns mousy gray. In later instars the fuzz is softer, appreciably longer, and with less dfferentiation in length between the head and tail fuzz vs. the midbody fuzz. There is a difference in behavior between these two. Generally, the caterpillars of C. oregonensis are jumpy and often throw themselves off the leaf when disturbed, whereas those of C. tenera are sedate."

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