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Mystery Photo

9-5-16  MYSTERY PHOTO - milkweed 20160830_1767Several species of insects feed on the leaves, pods and seeds of Common Milkweed, even though the cardiac glycosides they contain are toxic to many animals. One such species is known for its habit of skeletonizing the leaves of  milkweed plants (see top of plant in photo), leaving only the largest veins. Do you know what insect is responsible for this diagnostic behavior? Please submit answers under “Comments.”

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46 responses

  1. Marilyn McVicker

    Grasshoppers? They are sitting under/on the plants. We thought maybe they were
    eating the caterpillars, but perhaps their eating the leaves?

    September 5, 2016 at 8:11 am

  2. Laura

    Would monarch be too obvious a guess?

    September 5, 2016 at 8:12 am

  3. Monarch caterpillar.

    September 5, 2016 at 8:13 am

  4. Milkweed Tussock Moth ?

    September 5, 2016 at 8:14 am

  5. Andrea Ross

    Monarch larvae

    September 5, 2016 at 8:17 am

  6. Debbie

    Red Milkweed Beetle

    September 5, 2016 at 8:18 am

  7. nannette

    monarch caterpillar

    September 5, 2016 at 8:20 am

  8. Mary mac Ewan

    Gypsy moth

    September 5, 2016 at 8:21 am

  9. Tussock moth…prolly just one!

    September 5, 2016 at 8:27 am

  10. Don

    Milkweed Tussock Moth. They’re everywhere this year.

    September 5, 2016 at 8:27 am

  11. I don’t know and look forward to yet again learning from you! Monarch caterpillars sometimes bisect the large mid-vein so as to curtail the flow of sap to the rest of the leaf which they then eat with abandon.

    September 5, 2016 at 8:40 am

  12. Carol Yarnell

    Tussock Moth. I have them all over my milkweed in northern Vermont

    September 5, 2016 at 8:44 am

  13. Kate Cone

    Milkweed Tussock Caterpillar, I just photographed a bunch yesterday on my milkweeds!

    September 5, 2016 at 8:45 am

  14. Alan Donald

    Mary, could be a Monarch…but a mention of the Black Swallow Wort problem might be in order. Thanks, Alan Donald

    September 5, 2016 at 8:51 am

  15. Nan Childs

    Monarch Caterpillar for sure! Thanks for the wonderful posts!

    September 5, 2016 at 8:52 am

  16. Dragonfly larvae.

    September 5, 2016 at 8:55 am

  17. Connie Snyder

    I believe this is trail of Small Eastern Milkweed (yup, milkweed) Bug. We saw lots of them flying around milkweed plants in July. Or, maybe it’s the Large Milkweed Bug though they are reportedly more scarce in the north.

    September 5, 2016 at 9:33 am

  18. Jean Pace

    Monarch butterfly larvae

    September 5, 2016 at 9:59 am

  19. Chris

    Monarch caterpillar

    September 5, 2016 at 10:20 am

  20. Linda whipple

    I think the answer is Tussock Moth (Lymantriinae).

    September 5, 2016 at 10:36 am

  21. Peter Hollinger

    I think monarchs sever the midrib to block latex; some other caterpillar?

    September 5, 2016 at 10:36 am

  22. Linda

    Tussock Moth catipiller (Lymantriinae)

    September 5, 2016 at 10:42 am

  23. fludwig12

    Likely cute little milkweed tussock caterpillar.

    September 5, 2016 at 10:45 am

  24. Milkweed tussock moth caterpillar – shaggy little things and they feed in large groups

    September 5, 2016 at 10:58 am

  25. Paula Haubrich

    monarch caterpillar

    September 5, 2016 at 11:01 am

  26. Marilyn

    Milkweed Tussock Moth
    I have one on my milkweed now.

    September 5, 2016 at 11:07 am

  27. jenny simone

    Milkweed Beetle

    September 5, 2016 at 11:14 am

  28. john Patterson

    I’d go with Monarch butterfly caterpillar.

    September 5, 2016 at 12:44 pm

  29. Though I wouldn’t call it diagnostic, Milkweed Tussock Moths can completely strip a plant in sections, often going with the tenderest and new growth up top first.

    September 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm

  30. Normalee Martin

    Tussock moth caterpillar

    September 5, 2016 at 1:14 pm

  31. Cris Barthel

    Monarch caterpillar?

    September 5, 2016 at 1:35 pm

  32. Tussock moth would be my guess. 🙂

    September 5, 2016 at 1:39 pm

  33. Roderick Hook

    I’d look for the Tussock Moth, if it is in the area this photograph was taken….Rod

    September 5, 2016 at 2:06 pm

  34. Louise Garfield

    This comment is a question about the 2017 calendar. Is there information of any sort on the calendar (dates) portion?

    September 5, 2016 at 4:08 pm

  35. Alex Medlicott

    Milkweed tussock moth caterpillar

    September 5, 2016 at 4:09 pm

  36. Sam Dunn

    I’m Sam I’m 8 and I think it’s cool. Monarch catapillar.

    September 5, 2016 at 4:25 pm

  37. Dace Weiss

    tobacco hornworm?

    September 5, 2016 at 6:00 pm

  38. Ron


    September 5, 2016 at 6:01 pm

  39. Deb Cato

    its the milkweed tussock moth caterpillar. Euchaetes egle. They’ve totally striped the leaves of many of my milkweed in the last few weeks. Thankfully, they leave the pods alone.

    September 5, 2016 at 7:05 pm

  40. J. Griffin

    I know that the Monarch Butterfly larvae relishes this plant, but there is also a moth larvae which enjoys it here in New Hampshire. I suspect there are many others.

    September 5, 2016 at 8:06 pm

  41. Jnenifer

    Tussock Moth caterpillars have wiped out my milkweed, but they ate from the bottom leaves up.

    September 6, 2016 at 7:16 am

  42. Tami

    Milkweed tussock moth caterpillar? Photo I took last year:

    September 6, 2016 at 3:48 pm

  43. Betsy Hawes

    We have a woodchuck that has been sighted eating milkweed leaves!

    September 6, 2016 at 5:37 pm

  44. Nancy P Newman

    Milkweed tussock caterpillars

    September 6, 2016 at 8:04 pm

  45. monarch caterpillar?

    September 13, 2016 at 1:26 pm

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