We were thrilled to see this caterpillar in our inbox, as this species is uncommon (BugGuide). Paddle Caterpillars are so-named for the pairs of long black hairs with flattened tips that resemble paddles. The nocturnal moths, called Funerary Dagger Moths, fly from late spring to summer, while the caterpillars are typically found in July and August. Larvae are generalists and feed on leaves of alder, apple, birch, blueberry/huckleberry (Vaccinium spp.), cottonwood, dogwood, elm, hazel, hickory, maple, oak, and willow. This particular individual was found under an apple tree. Funerary Dagger Moths occur coast to coast, but have a patchy distribution (apparently missing from much of the midwest and several southern states).

Size: Wingspan 32 – 40 mm (adult)

Photos by: Roy Curet on 8/23/22 in Missoula, MT