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Unicorn Caterpillar

Well-camouflaged among the leaves, the Unicorn Caterpillar has a very long horn just behind its head and it is hard to miss.


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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
Full-sized image of the Unicorn Caterpillar Thumbnail image of the Unicorn Caterpillar

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Notodontidae
Genus: Schizura
Species: unicornis

Caterpillar Details

Other Names:
Unicorn Prominent Moth; Variegated Prominent Moth

The Unicorn Caterpillar becomes the Unicorn Prominent Moth; Unicorn Caterpillar Moth.

0.0 " to 1.9 " (1mm to 50mm)

green, brown, white V mark, long single horn, bumps, formic acid, bent back, plump, sparse hairs
Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
Image of unicorn-prominent-moth.jpg
Adult Form (Unicorn Prominent Moth; Unicorn Caterpillar Moth)
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Every part of the Unicorn Caterpillar's body is well-adapted to its surroundings. The head and most of the body are brown. Two green segments near the head are separated by a brown band on top. Just after the green segments, a long brown horn grows upward. Another, smaller horn grows closer to the rear end where a white, wishbone-shaped mark sits. Veins, lines, dots, and angles on the body look like the partially dried leaves that it feeds on. Its posture mimics the slight curling a drying leaf might have. It is part of a family of caterpillars that can spray a stream of formic acid, a chemical irritant, from its hump, so be cautious when observing it.

Caterpillars feed for a large part of the year, from spring through fall. When the weather turns colder, they crawl down to the leaf litter on the ground and wrap up in a silky cocoon for the winter. In early spring, they pupate and emerge as adults. They are a common species and not a concern regarding tree health.©CaterpillarIdentification.org

Unicorn Caterpillar Diet

apple; aspen; birch; cherry; elm; oak; maple; willow; hickory

Territorial Areas

Alabama; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico.
Prince Edward Is.  
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The map above showcases (in blue) the states and territories of North America where the Unicorn Caterpillar may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data can be useful in seeing concentrations of a particular species over the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some species are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America.*NOTE: States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Unicorn Caterpillar. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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