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Noctuid Moth Larva

The striped caterpillar that is crawling along the surface of fresh snow is the larval stage of a noctuid or owlet moth (species unknown).  Noctuids are dull-colored, medium-sized, nocturnal moths that are attracted to lights in the summer. They usually possess a well-developed proboscis (mouthpart) for sucking nectar.  You may be familiar with the common garden pests, cutworms, which are also noctuid larvae.  How this larva survives freezing temperatures I do not know, but I have seen several dozen at a time crawling around on top of the snow.  Note:   Jean Harrison, a fellow nature lover, just identified this larva as  Noctua pronuba, a winter cutworm also known as the greater yellow underwing (moth), a recent immigrant from Europe.

2 responses

  1. Betsy

    You are a god sent 🙂 I found 4 of these yesterday, alive, on top of the snow in my yard, and my 3-year old and I were very curious. I thought to my self “Mary Holland would know what this is?”

    January 14, 2012 at 10:35 pm

  2. Cheryl

    I’ve been seeing them around on the snow and could not figure out what they were and how they were still alive in the cold. I picked some of them up and tossed them in with the chickens. I have enjoyed your posts. Thanks.

    January 16, 2012 at 6:35 pm

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