Subject: possible snake caterpillar?
Location: Yotau, Bolivia, South America
January 29, 2013 9:23 pm
My friend and I discovered this caterpillar on a papaya tree on a work break in July. I contacted National Geographic a few months ago to see if they could help me ID the bug, but I haven’t gotten a response yet, and I really want to know what this bug is. I would, however, like to keep the photo credits.
Can you help me ID this bug?
We are nearly certain this is a Hornworm, the caterpillar of a moth in the family Sphingidae, and one of your photos does show what appears to be a caudal horn, a trait common to most caterpillars in the family. There are several caterpillars in the family that mimic snakes, including this Hemeroplanes triptolemus which we posted back in 2005. We have gone a bit dizzy clicking through most of the possibilities on the Sphingidae of the Americas Bolivia page with no success. We have decided to contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can provide a species identification.
Update: Thanks to a comment from Ryan, we see that the Alope Sphinx, Erinnyis alope, is a close match. The photos on the Sphingidae of the Americas site were one of the few we did not check.