We have a number of these caterpillars in the yard. They are about 3 cm long. This is on the peninsula south of San Francisco, CA, USA. I initially thought of geometer moths but it seems to have the full complement of prolegs.

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  • It looks like a Cabbage looper, however I counts 4 (or even 5) pairs of false legs on your specimen, while it should be 3.
    – benn
    Apr 19, 2018 at 18:59
  • What is the plant it was found on? If it wasn't found on a plant,what plant was it near?
    – peter
    Apr 24, 2018 at 17:47
  • They haven't been on plants. We have oak trees and California buckeyes in the yard plus rhododendrons, camellias, and other flowers. We haven't seen much damage. Apr 24, 2018 at 19:24
  • @NiallC. If this insect doesn't affect the garden, why is this question not yet closed? Aug 9, 2018 at 4:40
  • @AleksandarM If you think a question is off-topic, you can vote to close it as such.
    – Niall C.
    Aug 9, 2018 at 14:00

4 Answers 4


luna moth caterpillar

This sure looks like your little guy!

  • That seems to be found from the great plains eastward, not in California Apr 19, 2018 at 23:01

The cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni, is a moth, and has 3 pairs of prolegs.

The imported cabbage worm, Pieris rapae, is a butterfly, and has 5 pairs. The intensity of the coloration vaires with region and diet. I also see in other examples that the hindmost proleg is often smaller and almost vestigial, and might just be hard to see from the angle of your image. If you view another, look for that 5th leg!

But no matter which, they are a terrible nuisance to any cruciferous garden crop.

(I used mainly U of Florida for anatomical and taxonomic confirmation, but their photos aren't the best.)


Its a cabbage worm. Those things are cool. They glow in the dark, and I dont mean reflect, I mean "Glow". At night they can be quite trippy, especially if your on mushrooms.

  • can you stick to the answer. 'It's a cabbage worm.' then tell us why it's a 'cabbage worm'. What markings does it show to indicate to you this is the correct answer. What information should the person asking the question know about 'Cabbage worm' other than they glow. Do they eat cabbages? What about other brassica, e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts,...Finally leave off the part about mushrooms. It has no barring on the answer. It actual detracts from it.
    – GardenGems
    Dec 10, 2019 at 17:08

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