In late April and early May, 2010, there was an outbreak of noctuid caterpillars in
Clarke County, Georgia, United States. These caterpillars spent the day in the leaf litter,
climbed host trees shortly after sunset (see
larvae climbing oak tree),
fed at night, and defoliated both large white and red oak trees
(Quercus alba and Quercus rubra).
They were reported at high numbers at sites in both the eastern and western parts of the county.
Based on caterpillar morphology, David Wagner, University of Connecticut, has tentatively identified
this defoliator as either Phoberia atomaris or Cissusa spadix.
We are currently trying to rear larvae to adults to confirm this identification.
At one wooded site in eastern Clarke County (275 Blue Heron Drive, Athens -- 33.888°N 83.297°W) adult
P. atomaris were photographed at lights between 29 March and 5 April, 2010 (see
adult P. atomaris)
and C. spadix were
photographed at lights between 29 March and 15 April, 2010 (see
adult C. spadix), as part of Discover Life's research to monitor nocturnal creatures.
At this site, the first caterpillars were photographed on 23 April (see
caterpillars). The first pupae developed from collected caterpillars
on 3 May (see pupae and
Caterpillar numbers peaked between 30 April and 2 May. Numbers observed at night dropped off on 3 May, following a heavy rain storm.
Earlier in the season, there had been unusually large numbers of Eastern tent caterpillars,
Malacosoma americanum, at 275 Blue Heron Drive that defoliated Black cherry trees,
Prunus serotina (see caterpillar).
On 26 April, a Malacosoma americanum was photographed dead, apparently shedding NPV (see
dead caterpillar), as were others in the vicinity.
On 2 May, two C. spadix were photographed, also apparently killed by NPV (see
-- John Pickering, Jacqueline Mohan, Henning Von Schmeling, David Wagner, ... and anybody else whose wishes to contribute.