Ctenucha virginica – Virginia Ctenucha Moth

Caterpillar food:  grasses

Ctenucha moths are very common in our part of Wisconsin.  They’re day-flying moths, with smooth gray/black wings, a fuzzy orange head, and a shiny dark blue neck and body.

We see their caterpillars wandering on the road in the winter, anytime the temperature gets close to freezing. We saw this one on November 24, 2005.

And this one on February 28, 2010.

The caterpillars come in two color variations.   This caterpillar was collected in the grass of a mowed path on our farm on June 20, 2009.

Ctenucha virginica caterpillar

I fed it on grass, and it pupated on 6/1/09.  It looks like hairs from the body of the caterpillar were used for the outside of the cocoon.

Ctenucha virginica

On 6/2/09 the pupa inside became visible.

Ctenucha virginica

The adult emerged on 6/16/09.

Ctenucha virginica adult

Ctenucha virginica adult

Last spring (April 19th)  I was cutting some Honeysuckle bushes on an abandoned field, and found several caterpillars hidden in the dry grass at the base of each bush.

And I found some more crawling on the road.

I put the black ones in one jar, and the yellow ones in another.  They ate grass for about a month.

This is a yellow caterpillar.  Both the yellow and the black ones have red feet.

Their heads are red and black

Eventually, at the last instar, all the black caterpillars shed their black skin, and turned yellow.

They made cocoons

And hatched – this one on June 3, 2010.


Marcie O’Connor
Buffalo County, Wisconsin