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I found this caterpillar a few days ago, and at that time it was green with lighter green stripes running along its body, black spots on its head, and a few fine hairs.

Caterpillar
Caterpillar up close

It had made a leaf of one of the purple coneflower plants in my backyard its home by curling it around itself using its silk. It had also eaten part of the leaf it was in. Wanting to show my younger brother to raise it into a butterfly or moth as a little project over the summer, I picked the plant and placed it into an unused aquarium. On that night it proceeded to a different leaf and made it its new home.

Over the next few days my brother and I took care of the caterpillar, and during that time it seemed pretty happy eating the leaves from the coneflowers that we put into the aquarium.

When I found it this morning within the now wilted, curled-up coneflower leaf, it was yellow. I don't think it has eaten anything at all for the past day either, and up until now it still hasn't. My thoughts were that it was getting ready to pupate, yet it still seems small and it refuses to climb any of the sticks in the container; also it crawls along the edge of the aquarium and is still doing so at this time.

It would be nice if I could get some help with identifying this caterpillar so I can take the appropriate measures. So far nothing has come up when searching for caterpillars that feed on purple coneflower leaves, though the species of caterpillar that it seems to resemble most closely is the sleepy orange, abaeis nicippe.

Edit: I added a little soil to the container and after a little crawling around the caterpillar pretty willingly dove in. Could it be a species that forms its pupa under the soil?

  • Many insects will stop eating and get along on their stored calories. You even looked them up...you are trying to ID this guy to use the details to teach your brother...and you as well? So wonderful. Someone on this site, there are absolute genius botanists/entomologists here, will be able to help!! – stormy Jul 4 '16 at 21:40
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    It sounds like a leafroller of some kind. Identifying insects from photos is challenging. A better picture showing the markings, head, and legs might help. – Ben Welborn Jul 6 '16 at 0:35
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It looks like a cabbage looper. It has black spots and looks like the one in your photos. enter image description here

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    Welcome! I encourage you to take the tour and browse through the help center, especially How to Answer, to learn more about how the site works. A good answer doesn’t just give a term, it explains why the answer is correct and helps the asker follow the train of thought that lead to the answerer’s suggestion, thus being beneficial not just for the current asker, but also to future readers with the same or similar problems. – Stephie Aug 7 at 18:05
  • Good clear illustration, and with background that indicates size; if can also include more details of the species could be helpful. Thank you. – M H Aug 8 at 2:36

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