What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Please help identify this caterpillar
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
January 6, 2013 4:38 am
Hi there!
The (poor) photo attached was taken yesterday 5th January 2013 in Table View, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. Would you be so kind as to try to identify it for me? Thanks a lot!
Signature: Dylan

Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Hi Dylan,
There isn’t much detail in the posterior end of this caterpillar so we cannot make out if there is a caudal horn present, but the coloration and size are consistent with the appearance of a Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar,
Acherontia atropos, like the one we just posted a few days ago from Israel.  This is a different color morph from the typical Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillars we generally receive which are more green and yellow.

Thanks very much for your response – there is a horn at it’s
posterior. Much obliged for the info.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Africa
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8 Responses to Death's Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar from South Africa

  1. Brendon says:

    We found 2 of them yesterday in Noordhoek Cape Town! Any tips on caring for them through to moth stage?

  2. celeste says:

    I have found one this moring in the Eastern Freestate. this one is a bit more green with the blue dots all over…might just be a different stage in the cycle!? anyway…the funny thing I observed was when my dog accidentally stepped on it, a sound it made almost like electric wires touching…after a while the dog wanted to sniff at it and jumped away as if he had been shocked… this could be the caterpillar’s defence mechanism? ! I would love to fond out what the moth looks like.

    • bugman says:

      We doubt that Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillars have any electrical charges. Here is an image of the adult moth.

    • Melissa says:

      I live in Ontario Canada and I know that the Abbott”s Sphinx Moth Caterpillar can rear up and make a buzzing hissing type noise to warn of predators. Maybe your moth does the same thing. It freaked me oit the first time it happened.

  3. George Hall says:

    I found one of these on my lawn in Benoni recently have some good Photos on my phone, let me have an address and I will send the photos.

  4. Yolandi says:

    I was very excited this morning when I saw the biggest most colourful yellow worm ever. I live in Rustenburg South Africa where I foun the Death Head Hawkmoth worm. What leaves do they eat? We have granadilla, grape, fig and a kumquat tree. Please let me know.

    • bugman says:

      The list of larval foodplants on African Moths is: “Brugmansia suaveolens, Solanum jacquini, Solanum Jasminoides, Solanum macrocarpon, Tabebuia pallida, Clerodendrum ugandense, Mormordica charantia, Vitex, Jasminum pubigerum, Spathodea, Duranta erecta, Lantana camara.”

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