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Bug of the Week: Bougainvillea Caterpiller Moth Life Cycle

This empty pupa says it all.

Our little green caterpillar from past posts has revealed his identity. He is a male bougainvillea caterpiller moth, Asciodes gordialis. Although I originally thought he might be a pyralid caterpillar, he turns out to belong to the family Crambidae.

You can tell its a male by the dark tufts mid-way up the antennae and the dense fringe of hairs on the front legs.

You can see the fringe of hairs on the front legs better in this view.

Unfortunately, circumstances weren't the best for taking good photos.  For some excellent quality photographs of a male bougainvillea caterpiller moth, see Jim Burns Photos.

Bougainvillea Caterpiller Moth Life Cycle

Let's recap what we discovered over the last few weeks (with links to past blog posts.)

bougainvillea caterpiller moth caterpillar hidingThe caterpillar feeds on and hides in rolled up bougainvillea leaves.

Bougainvilleas are brightly-colored shrubs that flower throughout the summer in Arizona.

The color comes from the red or magenta sepals, which are not flower petals.

The true flowers are these tiny white ones. The caterpillars feed on leaves near the sepal clusters at the tips of the stems.


The caterpillar is green with a bit of mottling on its head capsule.


Looking closer, it was easy to see the breathing tubes or trachea through the the caterpillar's clear exoskeleton. The dark green line down the back is its heart.


Before it pupated, the caterpillar turned pink.

And then it pupated.

Maybe someday I'll be able to find some eggs, and we'll have the complete life cycle.

 

Want to learn more about moths? National Moth Week is coming up July 22 through 30, 2017. Check the website for events near you.

This year the focus will be on tiger moths.

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