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IPM1019, Caterpillars in Your Yard and Garden

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Caterpillars in Your Yard and Garden

Red-spotted purple caterpillars

Brush-footed butterflies, fritillaries and wood nymphs

Link to Caterpillars in Your Yard and Garden Red-spotted purple caterpillars (Limenitis arthemis) are present from early summer to fall. They produce two generations per year.

The full-grown caterpillar is about 1.5 inches long with white, green, yellow-brown and brown patches mottled together to look like a bird dropping. Arising from the second thoracic segment is a pair of large, brown spines or horns that are barbed. From the top of the second abdominal segment is a pair of large, light-colored swellings or bumps. Host plants include willow, apple, wild cherry, wild crab, elm, oak and other tree and shrub species.

About the family

Brush-footed butterflies, fritillaries and wood nymphs belong to the Nymphalidae family. Caterpillars have variable color patterns ranging from longitudinal stripes to mimicking a bird dropping. Most species are covered with prominent spines and tubercles.

IPM1019, new February 2003

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