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Photo#681200
Mystery caterpillar - Acronicta clarescens

Mystery caterpillar - Acronicta clarescens
Tallahassee, Leon County, Florida, USA
May 24, 2012
Size: 30-40mm
Caterpillar found in backyard - did not accept any of the leaves I offered and obviously was not healthy: it never held on to anything I put it on. Disappeared in litter at bottom of jar - no pupa or other recognizable trace found when I checked 6 weeks later.

Images of this individual: tag all
Mystery caterpillar - Acronicta clarescens Mystery caterpillar - Acronicta clarescens

Moved
Moved from ID Request.

Looks like
a clear dagger (Acronicta clarescens). The last instar is a cinnamon color.

 
The caterpillar
Amazing, my caterpillar may have a name after all. Your suggestion makes a lot of sense to me after looking at the Acronicta clarescens caterpillar in Wagner's The Caterpillars of Eastern North America and at the BugGuide image here. Even though the colors don't match (presumably younger individuals?), I am persuaded by the warts and the stubby "tail". Thank you!

One possibility…
Some parasitic nematodes are capable of infecting caterpillars, and even turning them bright red in the process. This may explain why it appears unhealthy and won't eat.

 
the "sick" caterpillar
Maybe it was not that sick after all - who knows. Anyway, I have looked at the litter again and, lo and behold, discovered an empty pupa skin in a small chunk of apparently glued-together debris. It was quite small, though. If a moth actually emerged, it must have done so after I had decided that there was no pupa. I should have known better but for now, regrettably, the caterpillar will remain a mystery caterpillar. A missed opportunity, but its way of pupating may narrow the ID possibilities

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