Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Anticarsia gemmatalis Hübner, 1818
Phylogenetic sequence #931077.
Explanation of Names
gemma (Latin for a bud) + talus (Latin for the ankle, heel) (1)
The specific name may allude to the tuft of scales on the foreleg visible on this image:
Lafontaine & Schmidt (2010) listed Anticarsia gemmatalis
as the only member of the genus in America north of Mexico. (2)
Adult: Color highly variable. Wings heavily mottled or mostly unmarked with weak stripe and prominent spots. PM continues across HW, terminating at the apex of FW.
Larva: The larvae are extremely variable in coloration and markings throughout the instars. The larvae have a light, dorsal stripe bordered by dark stripes and a broad, white horizontal stripe on each side. They are usually a light green but can be brown or black. They grow to nearly 2 inches and have four pair of abdominal prolegs plus a pair of anal prolegs. They violently wiggle their abdominal prolegs when disturbed
Much of North America, but primarily southeastern U.S.
The caterpillar overwinters in the southern tip of Florida and moves north during the summer months. A. gemmatalis is an annual problem in the months of June through September in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Infestations of velvetbean caterpillar are less severe in the western United States. - see Featured Creature link
Soybean (Glycine max) is the primary host of the velvetbean caterpillar but it will feed on many other species including peanut, kudzu, velvetbean, horse beans, cotton, cowpea, coffeeweed, black locust, hairy indigo, lespedeza, sesbania, and white sweetclover (Waters and Barfield 1989). Legumes are the preferred host plant of the velvetbean caterpillar. - see Featured Creature link.
Larvae feed on pea family plants (Fabaceae), including alfalfa, soybeans, velvetbeans.
The velvetbean caterpillar, Anticarsia gemmatalis (Hübner), is the most damaging foliage feeding pest of soybean in Florida and the southeastern states. Infestations of the caterpillar occur in the late summer months and can cause great damage to soybean and other legume crops if not managed. The caterpillar is able to strip fields of soybean foliage in five to seven days (Wilkerson et al. 1986). - see Featured Creature link
This migratory species regularly "invades" northward each fall, often in great numbers (3)
Covell, C., 1984. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Moths
. Houghton Mifflin Company, p. 163, plate 39 #4 (4)
Powell, J.A. & P.A. Opler, 2009. Moths of Western North America
. University of California Press. pl. 44, figs. 23,24; p. 260.(5)
Waters, D.J., C.S. Barfield. 1989. Larval development and consumption by Anticarsia gemmatalis (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) fed various legume species. Environmental Entomology 18: 1006-1010.
Wilkerson, G.G., J.W. Mishoe, J.L. Stimac. 1986. Modeling velvetbean caterpillar (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) populations in soybean. Environmental Entomology 15: 809-816.
includes dark and green form larval images