Fuzzy little white caterpillar (Virginian tiger moth caterpillar)

by Colleen
(Bethelem, PA)

I am finding more of these tiny (about 1/2" long) caterpillars...I find them in my marigolds and today in mint.
Are they good or bad?
This year in my garden I have very very few bad bugs! and tons of butterflies and bees.
I planted a lot of zinnias and assorted flowers between my vegetables.
So I do want to id these caterpillars.
ColleenMS

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Virginian tiger moth caterpillar
by: Moni

Colleen
Your caterpillar is a Virginian Tiger Moth larvae - also called the yellow wooly bear . These caterpillars come in various colors. These caterpillars look very similar to the salt marsh caterpillar, however these have yellowish heads while the salt marsh have black heads.

These are found throughout most of North America. The caterpillars feed on many low growing plants like docks, thistles, plantains and dandelions, as well as shrubs and trees. In my garden I have seen them on lambsquarters, pigweed, green beans besides other plants and weeds.
They are not a pest of the garden. They may eat a few leaves of our garden plants, but will not destroy any.
Winter is spent as a pupa in a fuzzy cocoon.

The adults are white moths that have a few black dots on the wings. They have a row of black spots on their abdomens. The moths do come to lights at night.

These caterpillars do not cause a rash nor sting.

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