What caterpillar is destroying my flowers?

Asked May 28, 2016, 8:31 PM EDT

I have a mystery spreading perennial flower that is totally destroyed by this type of caterpillar. Will the caterpillar turn into an awesome butterfly, or is it an evil type of moth? Unfortunately I don't know what the flower is called - they grew without problems last summer.

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

It is an awesome butterfly - an American lady, Vanessa virginiensis. It looks similar to a monarch. See http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/vanessa-virginiensis for more info. According to that site these are plants that the caterpillar eats, so your spreading plant is probably one of them:
Plants in the sunflower family everlasting (Gnaphalium obtusifolium), pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea), plantain-leaved pussy toes (Antennaria plantaginifolia), wormwood (Artemisia), ironweed (Vernonia), and burdock (Arctium).

Thanks for asking instead of squishing!