Evening Primrose Caterpillar
CATERPILLAR OF THE WEEK continued:
Another flower, another Schinia. This is the Evening Primrose Caterpillar, Schinia florida. They are remarkable mimics of primrose seed pods and will rest on the pods with their heads buried inside them while they feast on all the delicious innards. Most Evening Primrose Caterpillars are green with a reddish tinged front end, but I have encountered a handful of bright pink individuals in years when they are particularly plentiful.
Schina florida goes through two or more generations each summer here in New England and will be present in most patches of roadside or trailside evening primrose. Even when they are plentiful, they can be really tough to spot. I find that looking for their frass piles amongst the flowers and fruit is the best way focus your search.
As you search the flowers you may also catch sight of the vibrant yellow and pink adult moth resting inside a primrose flower. They spend the day just sitting in the blossoms blending in - I am sure one of our regulars can post a picture of this in the comments!
- Sam TCL Executive Director
Each week (or at least SOME weeks!) The Caterpillar Lab features a "Caterpillar of the Week." Each featured caterpillar is a species we've raised at our lab in Keene, NH. We hope you enjoy meeting the caterpillars of New England!