Friday, July 02, 2004

Know your larvae

So you come across a caterpillar. But is it lepidopterous (a moth or butterfly) or symphytous (one of the sawflies)? The answer is to count the legs. Ignore the true legs near the head, there will always be three pairs of them. Count the prolegs, which normally start a little way behind the true legs. Butterfly and moth larvae have four or five pairs whereas those of sawflies generally have six or more. There are a few sawfly larvae with fewer prolegs but they tend to be those that tunnel inside plants. So which of the following are lepidopterous and which are not?

They are:
1. The Drinker (Euthrix potatoria) - a moth
2. Tenthredo mandibularis - a sawfly
3. An unidentified micro moth
4. An unidentified sawfly larva

If you can help with either of the unidentified beasts, please comment.

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