Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Not a caterpillar

I was looking for caterpillars yesterday, using my sweep net to sample some tall grasses along the side of the road. I threw this guy into my jar, and it wasn't until I took it out for a photo that I realized it wasn't a caterpillar at all!
- Eyes. Caterpillars have six small eyespots on each side of the head, while this creature has only one.
- Pro-legs. Caterpillars have up to four pairs of prolegs (the fleshy legs along the body, *not* including the front three pairs of true legs with claws). This creature has 7 pairs that I can see, including the back end.
- Behavior. Whenever it is touched by anything, it thrashes around wildly.

It could only be one thing - a sawfly larvae!
Sawflies are in the order Hymenoptera along with the ants, bees, and wasps. There are several sawfly families - I'm not yet sure which family this larvae belongs to.

3 comments:

TheFrogBag said...

What a fantastic photo! Very cool find.

Hollie said...

http://davesgarden.com/guides/bf/go/5097/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenthredinidae

Dianna Ellinger said...

I found this in my mom's strawberry garden and out in a jar for my daughter to watch it become a butterfly or moth. Is this a sawfly larva?