Unknown Stinging Moth or Butterfly Stinging Caterpillar from Brazil.
Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 9:24 AM
Mr. Bugman, (this is my second e-mail…I am trying to be fortunate enough to get a little of your precious time to help me, so I can explain it to my children.)
This was found under the dirt (which my daughter stepped on it! Very painful!). Also on the banana trees and fruit trees around the area including oranges and also some coconut trees. This was on June 26, 2008 in Juazeiro do Norte, Ceara. Brazil. Winter time in the northeast area, temperature around 30F. I have looked all over the computer archive, also books in the library and book store. Could you help me to identify it. My sincerely gratitude. I hope I am not “Bugging” you too much.
Northeast Brazil, City: Juazeiro do Norte
We are sorry we did not answer your previous email, but it is impossible for us to respond, or even read, every email we receive. Since we just identified a stinging caterpillar from Mexico, your subject line caught our attention. We can tell you that these are not butterfly caterpillars, but for the moment, the best we can provide is that they are moth caterpillar , possibly related to Buck Moths or Io Moths in the family Hemileucinae. We will try to do some additional research when we have time, or perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide you with an identification.
Hi Daniel and Marianne:
Unfortunately the picture is a little fuzzy and it is difficult to make out details. Finding them “under the dirt” is a bit confusing as well. However, let’s try something and perhaps Marianne can help us out with some more information. They look like large caterpillars (?) and my first inclination is to suggest that they are Saturniid moths (family Saturniidae). They look like they could be in the genus Periphoba, possibly P. hircia which is common throughout northern South America. However, there are several Periphoba species found in that part of Brazil and they apparently are all quite similar. For comparison, I have included links to P. hicia and P. arcaei, a related species that is primarily from Central America. All caterpillars in this genus are capable of inflicting an extremely painful sting. Regards.
Thank you very much for your reply.
I also want to thank Karl’s comments.
That day it was “rainning” green caterpillars. I wonder if one fell from the tree and was covered with dirt by accident and eventually my daughter stepped on it!
I was kind of scared to get any closer to one to take a better picture; but they were about the size of an index finger.:)