Q: I’ve found many of these caterpillars on my tropical milkweed plants. I know the tropical milkweed is a host plant for monarch butterflies, but I don’t seem to be able to identify what type of butterfly or moth this might be. Can you help?
A: I continue to be amazed at the usefulness of “Caterpillars of Eastern North America” (Princeton University Press, David L. Wagner), a book I received recently.
It identifies your caterpillar as the larva of a milkweed tussock moth. Like the monarch butterfly caterpillar, these caterpillars are poisonous to birds due to the chemicals they ingest from the milkweed plants.
This is one caterpillar that doesn’t care about camouflage…it’s bright markings tell birds to stay away!
see Milkweed Insects