Butterfly or Moth?
Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
Client's Request: Hello. The picture (right is from my garden with this “mysterious” worm crawling around on my vine. I can't tell from my internet search if this is an elm worm, rose worm or (very important) will this become a butterfly or a bad moth? Please help!! Thanks.
MGCC Help Desk Response: Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener Program Help Desk. I apologize for taking so long to answer, but this is a busy season.
From your excellent photo, the caterpillar looks like a gulf fritillary, which is a butterfly. These butterflies are large, about the size of a monarch. They are found primarily in the southern US and south through Mexico all the way to South America, and, strangely enough, into California where they were introduced sometime in the 1800s. They are often raised to be released at events such as weddings. The caterpillar feeds only on passion vines. Is that where you found yours?
Please let us know if you have further questions.
Client's Response: Thank you so much. Since they are good (butterflies not coddling moths), I am glad I didn't disturb them. And yes, they are on my passion flower vine. Thanks again.
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa (SEH)
Note: The UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925)646-6586, email: email@example.com, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/)./span>/span>