Angle Shade Caterpillar: a Tolerated Pest

Angle shade caterpillar has a brown or bright green body. This larva is sometimes considered a pest because it tends to flock to and consume certain types of crops, such as spinach and cabbage, but people often let it be. 

Angle Shade Moth Caterpillar Description

Angle Shade Caterpillar
Angle Shade Caterpillar

Angle shade moth caterpillars (larvae) have pinkish brown or bright green bodies. This green caterpillar also has thick dots and dorsal lines that run uninterrupted from the cephalic to the caudal region of its body.

Some subspecies appear to be brown or green with reddish spots peppered along the lateral parts of their bodies. Some even have faint chevrons that come in dark colors situated along the caudal parts of their bodies.

They can grow to be about 2 inches long and have a diameter of about half an inch. The caterpillars have four pairs of “fake legs” and two pairs of “true legs.” They also have black heads with dark brown markings. They’re relatively medium-sized compared to species under the same genus.

What Is the Difference Between an Angle Shade Caterpillar and a Regular Caterpillar?

The main difference between the two is that Angle shade caterpillars have four pairs of “false legs” (also known as prolegs) and two pairs of “true legs.” Angle shade caterpillars are often mistaken for other caterpillars because of their general appearance — relatively long bodies without a distinct shape or form and their tendency to crawl on their food plants.

Free Butterfly Garden Mastery Course

Sign up for our five-email course that will teach you how to identify, observe and attract butterflies to your garden.

How Long Does It Take for an Angle Shade Caterpillar to Turn Into a Moth?

Angle Shade Moth
Angle Shade Moth

Angle shade caterpillars generally take about 3 to 5 weeks to turn into moths. During this time, the caterpillar must go through at least 4 instars.

The process begins when the female moth lays eggs on a host plant, such as bramble or nettle. It takes about 3 to 4 days before the eggs hatch.

From there, the larvae will spend about 1 to 2 weeks in the larval stage. They will undergo instars and molt as they continue to mature.

After this, the caterpillars spin cocoons around themselves and continue developing inside. On average, it takes about 10 to 14 days to complete the chrysalis phase.

Angle shade caterpillars generally overwinter as pupae inside cocoons. They will emerge as soon as the lowest temperatures come to pass.

Finally, the pupa will turn into an adult (imago). The adult phase usually lasts about 2 to 5 weeks. Adult moths (Phlogophora meticulosa) have gray-brown wings with 2 prominent triangle-like shapes on each forewing. Their wingspan is about 2 inches, and their underwings are usually invisible.

What Do Angle Shade Caterpillars Eat?

Angle shade caterpillars are generalists and will consume a wide variety of herbaceous plants. Some of their favorite food sources include nettles, willows, and birches. In the process of feeding off flowers, they tend to act as pollinators at the same time.

Adult moths consume other food sources apart from flower nectar. These include fermenting fruits, animal dung, tree nectar, flower sap, and bird droppings on leaf litter.

Are They Considered Pests?

Caterpillars are often considered pests because they tend to flock to and consume certain types of crops, such as spinach, cabbage, and brussels sprouts. They often eat buds and shoots of newly grown plants.

Still, some people claim you should tolerate the caterpillar whenever possible. Many let nature take its course, allowing predators to do their work, and regulate the number of caterpillars.

Are Angle Shade Caterpillars Dangerous in Any Way?

Angle shade caterpillars are not dangerous in any way. They are not a major threat to humans or animals. However, they feed quickly and in clusters, so they may cause harm to crops.

One good way to minimize the harm inflicted on the host plants is to plant other species that can attract the caterpillars to transfer to those plants. While these will not completely prevent them from munching on the leaves and stems, the damage can be somewhat minimized.

Most Common Angle Shade Caterpillar Predators

These predators help control the population of the Angle shade caterpillars:

  • Birds
  • Hornets
  • Wasps
  • Ground beetles
  • Tachinid flies
  • Lacewings

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Leave a Comment