Yesterday, I spotted two large, white caterpillars dining on a Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (Black Eyed Susan) that I planted this summer.
I found a photo of what appears to be the same insect at BugGuide that is said to feed on Rudbeckia. It’s a Spilosoma virginica, the Virginian Tiger Moth. The caterpillars are also known as the yellow woolly bear and they range from white to yellow to light brown in color. The adult moths have white wings with small, black markings and striped, white, yellow, and black bodies.
I’m going to leave these caterpillars alone. They appear to be almost fully grown, and they don’t seem to have caused my Rudbeckia much harm. As was true in 1892, “Although so common an insect, it seldom does sufficient injury to warrant our taking decided action towards fighting it.”