September 15, 2006

Big Bug

Big Bug
Originally uploaded by Dr Momentum.
Does anybody know what sort of bug this is? My Leatherman in the
picture is exactly 4 inches long. This is a pretty sizable
caterpillar. Sharon spotted it and alerted the rest of the office.
Posted by James at September 15, 2006 1:24 PM
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He looks like Heimlich. R.I.P. Joe Ranft.

Posted by: Mike at September 15, 2006 1:57 PM

Looks like some type of tomato worm to me (there are many kinds). I think it's in my bug bible at home.

Posted by: Julie at September 15, 2006 2:08 PM

(although it's somewhat of a visual match, this fellow would be farther north than expected!)

Posted by: James at September 15, 2006 2:35 PM

Er, bad spelling. Sphinx moth caterpillar.

There are a number of types of Sphinx moth caterpillars, and they go through phases in which they look different. This looks to be some sort of Sphinx moth caterpillar, possibly the "Tersa" species.

And it turns out that Tersa Sphinx moths are found in Massachusetts.

Posted by: James at September 15, 2006 2:46 PM

It is *ugly*. Ugh. Definitely my least favorite food so far. (Game my girls play -- what's your least favorite food. I think this is grosser than grubs.)

Posted by: Maggie at September 15, 2006 3:03 PM

I saw one of those in the middle of my street the other day while walking the dog. My first reaction was the same as Julie's - a tomato bug - because that is the only similar looking create I've ever seen.

I didn't get a great look because I was mostly concerned with making sure the dog didn't notice the bug and decide to eat it :-)

It must have been the same thing. Hard to imagine a tomato bug would have found its way into the middle of a paved road. (Hard to imagine what a sphinx moth caterpillar would be doing there too...)

Posted by: Jim at September 15, 2006 3:10 PM

It definately looks like a Sphinx moth. Which are the same caterpillar that eats tomatoes. We found three munching our plants last summer. they are quite gross in the caterpillar stage (especially if you have to pull them off your tomato plants by hand) but are really cool in the moth stage.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at September 15, 2006 3:39 PM

I remember how I dealt with a tomato worm problem when I briefly attempted to grow potted tomatoes in Florida. I threw the plants over the fence into the woods. :)

Posted by: Julie at September 15, 2006 3:54 PM

I think what this is is a Eumorpha pandorus, sometimes called a Pandorous Sphinx. See this picture:

A tomato worm or tomato hornworm is Manduca quinquemaculata. See this picture:

That's the thing that ate the bejeesus out of our tomatoes last year. Here's a fact sheet from the URI Cooperative:

Posted by: Patti M. at September 15, 2006 4:10 PM

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