Green and orange and purple

Here are some more fun photos of Acronicta lepetita from Texas. Some of them turn orange during their final instar, some stay green, some even turn purple-ish. Luckily this species is quite sedentary, so it is relatively easy to photograph. This first shot is one of my favorites:

lepetita_orange (2)

Smile!

lepetita_orange (3)

Orange and green siblings.

lepetita_orange (4)

This one was not interested in being a model, it just wanted to continue nibbling the leaf edge.

Many caterpillars are known to turn purple-ish, red-ish, or pink-ish just before pupation. However this orange color change happens while the caterpillar is still feeding, sometimes up to a week before pupation. It happens in Acronicta vinnula as well. I wonder why a caterpillar would want to be orange while still feeding on green vegetation?

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Posted on July 2, 2013, in Acronicta, Acronictinae, Invertebrates, Lepidoptera, Noctuidae, Texas trip 2013 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. 911 Help!!! One of the caterpillars got stuck on masking tape, I am just in a panic, tape not on its head, I have tried wetting Q-tips to moisten tape, has this ever happened to anyone who can help me!! Is there a way they can moisten tape themselves???

    • I don’t know!

      • Thanks for reply. Worked out fine after all! When he went into Pupa stage he relaxed, used a tiny bit of Vaseline to wet tape, and slowly worked it off little bit by bit using a tweezer. He never spun a sling and was lying on the Butterfly screen room floor when the cocoon formed. Cocoon became dark brown and that scared me since the other cocoons were green but I guess color was a camouflage (earth colored), not bad news, because a he emerged as a stunningly beautiful butterfly!!!!!

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