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Photo#48439
Unknown caterpillar - now ID'd as Dysschema howardi (in tribe Pericopini) - Dysschema howardi

Unknown caterpillar - now ID'd as Dysschema howardi (in tribe Pericopini) - Dysschema howardi
San Lorenzo Canyon, near Lemitar, Socorro County, New Mexico, USA
February 12, 2006
Size: About 1" - 1.5" (I think)
Seen on a rock in a desert slot canyon located near Lemitar in the Rio Grande Valley, central New Mexico. Overall the area is very dry, although there is a small seeping spring about 100 yards from where we saw this little fellow. I've looked at all the images of hairy caterpillars I could find, and none are quite like him. In particular, the orange blobs in the middle of his yellow sections with black hairs growing out of them seem to be unique. The satin moth is closest, but its blobs and stripes are arranged differently and it has no black hairs.

rmilner,
Please contact us by email (see our contributor page here) regarding permission to display on Plates at Moth Photographers Group photographs of moths and larvae that you have posted here at BugGuide. You'll have to translate our address into a real email one, sorry. Thanks, J&J.

Moved
Moved from Tiger Moths.

positive ID
Thanks to the folks at NMSU's Arthropod Museum, I now know that this is a Dysschema howardi, New Mexico's largest tiger moth. So the guess at Estigmene was fairly close; it is also in the Arctiidae.

Our first impression was of
Harrisinia in the Zygaenidae, but we don't know the western species and can't find many images online. Here is an image of our eastern species, and one for one of the western species. We'll keep thinking :)

 
Hmmm ...
Well, the Harrisina ones have stripes, but they're much smaller and have very inconspicuous hair-sprouting blobs (if any). Their habitat is also quite different, even the western species: they live in groups eating leaves in large quantity. We only saw this one, and there wasn't a grape leaf (or any other kind of leaf worthy of the name) anywhere nearby. Of course it might have recently arrived there by some freak manner, e.g. hitchhiking or falling from the top of the canyon, rather than being native to the vicinity.

In addition to http://bugguide.net/node/view/27836, it bears a vague resemblance to a couple of species of Estigmene (e.g. http://nitro.biosci.arizona.edu/zeeb/butterflies/figs/moth_larvae/Arctiid/E_acrea-l.jpg), although the patterns of coloration and tufts are not the same and those eat leaves too.

It's a cute little puzzler. :-) I'll keep hunting too.

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