Currently viewing the category: "Hornworms"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Caterpillar in Bocas del Toro, Panama
Location: Bocas del Toro, Panama
April 9, 2014 1:11 pm
Hi. I found this caterpillar in my front yard near Almirante, Bocas del Toro Province, Panama (on the mainland across from Isla Pastor). We’re right next to a mangrove swamp and a rainforest, but I unfortunately don’t know what plant the caterpillar is on. It was spotted April 4, 2014 around 10:00 in the morning. I haven’t been able to determine what type of caterpillar it is, but I do love how it looks like it’s boxings an invisible nemesis!
Signature: Elizabeth

Unknown Caterpillar

Erinnyis species Caterpillar

Hi Elizabeth,
Your photos are gorgeous and this caterpillar is magnificent, and we wanted to post your images prior to identifying it.  Our first thought is a member of the family Sphingidae, the Hornworms which metamorphose into Hawkmoths, and our second guess if family Saturniidae, the Giant Silkmoths.  We tried searching some of the possibilities on the Sphingidae of Panama site, but without any luck, so we have contacted Bill Oehlke who runs that site and who specializes in both Sphingidae and Saturniidae.  We hope to hear something conclusive from his very soon.  In the meantime, we need to get a few more tomato plants in the ground.

Unknown Caterpillar

Erinnyis species Caterpillar

WTB? Contacts Bill Oehlke
Hi Bill,
These gorgeous photos of a gorgeous caterpillar just arrived.  The sighting was “Almirante, Bocas del Toro Province, Panama (on the mainland across from Isla Pastor). We’re right next to a mangrove swamp and a rainforest.”
I tried the Eumorpha in Panama first because of the stubby horn, but many do not include caterpillar images, and I also checked some of the Dilophonotini because the prolegs remind me of a tetrio sphinx.  I thought you might recognize this beauty.
DanielDaniel,
I think yucantana would be much less likely than one of the other Erinnyis species, but I would not rule it out as a possibility.
Bill

Bill Oehlke narrows the possibilities:
Daniel,
It appears to be one of the Erinnyis species. There are many of them in Panama, and they can be quite variable. The anal horn in this genus becomes quite reduced in the final instar.
I believe you are right that it is one of the Dilophonotini. There are other genera in this tribe that also have the stubby horn. I simply do not have images of them for comparison.
Bill

Hi again Elizabeth,
Bill Oehlke agrees with our assessment that this Hornworm or Sphinx Caterpillar is likely in the tribe Dilophonotini, and be believes it is in the genus
Erinnyis, but he does not have caterpillar images of all the species.  The stubby horn and markings on the prolegs are similar the characteristics of the highly variable larva of the Ello Sphinx, Erinnyis ello, and one of the caterpillars pictured on the Sphingidae of Panama site looks similar.  An image on the Government of Bermuda Ministry of Public Works Department of Conservation Services  website Bermuda Conservation page of the Ello Sphinx Caterpillar also exhibits those similarities.  There are also Ello Sphinx Hornworms pictured on BugGuide that look similar.  So, our conclusion, with the assistance of Bill Oehlke, is that this caterpillar is in the genus Erinnyis, and it might be the highly variable caterpillar of an Ello Sphinx, or it may be a closely related species in the genus that is not as well known without images of the caterpillar readily available.

Ed. Note:  April 10, 2014
Thanks to a comment from Bostjan Dvorak, we now believe this is
Erinnyis yucatana, and more information can be located at Sphingidae of the Americas.

Bill Oehlke’s Opinion
Daniel,
I think yucantana would be much less likely than one of the other Erinnyis species, but I would not rule it out as a possibility.
Bill

Thanks! I was having no luck finding pages for caterpillar identification, so this really helps. You guys are awesome and I love the website. I’ll have to ask my husband about the plant as I have no idea what type it is. Once I find that out I’ll post the answer. Thanks again.
Elizabeth

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Hornworm, NOT Tomato
Location: South of Springfield, IL
April 8, 2014 4:56 pm
I found this guy crawling around in the gravel of the driveway. He eschewed leaves from my tomato plants.
He looked LIKE a tomato hornworm at first glance, but instead of one row of eye spots, he has a double row, the top ones being huge and red. It was large, about the size of a tomato hornworm, though marked differently.
I’ve cleaned it up in Photoshop, I was going to post it online (I’m an avid Wikipedian), but wanted to be able to identify it, first.
Signature: Kaz

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Kaz,
Considering the record long and harsh winter we understand you experienced in your part of the world, we find it unusual that this sighting of a mature Hornworm occurred this week.  Since you admitted you “cleaned it up in Photoshop” we are not certain exactly much color and contrast manipulation has occurred, but this appears to be the caterpillar of a Whitelined Sphinx,
Hyles lineata, a highly variable species.  Except for the color intensity, it looks very similar to this example on BugGuide.  We are currently featuring a Wanted Poster from a graduate entomology student who is studying the population explosions of this species that often occur in the desert regions of the Southwest.  Some years the Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars are incredibly numerous.  Native Americans collected them for food and they are popular among modern entomophages.  The adult Whitelined Sphinx, also known as the Striped Morning Sphinx, is our featured Bug of the Month for April 2014 because we have gotten so many reports and identification requests from Southern California this spring.

Oh, no, this was during the summer, I just didn’t discover your
website until now.  Weird, the pics on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyles_lineata look
completely different.  I take it that the wide range of this moth explains why its
caterpillar varies so extremely…I’m in Illinois, a couple of
thousand miles away from those places, and Wikipedia says its range
goes from central America through Canada.

We don’t believe the color variations have to do with location.  Members of the same brood can look quite different, some being black and others green.  We have several examples in our own archive that look similar to your individual, except for the color intensity.  See here and here.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Large worm
Location: Near Lanseria Airport. South Africa
April 1, 2014 10:55 am
We discovered this worm in our garden recently.
About 100mm long and 12-15mm thick
Any ideas please?
Signature: Mike A

Oleander Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Oleander Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Hi Mike,
Do you have an oleander shrub in your garden?  This is the Caterpillar of an Oleander Hawkmoth.

Hi Daniel
We do indeed!
My wife now tells me that it is an extremely poisonous bush!
Our dogs had found the worm and were carrying it around the garden. Fortunately they did not harm or puncture it.
Thanks for responding.
Kind regards
Mike Abraham

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What is it
Location: South New Jersey
March 26, 2014 11:40 am
I was removing a Bush From the frount of my yard, and just at root level i found this Cocoon. It is still Alive decause its Tail moves pod and all. I put it in a Jar with holes and placed it on my Boiler to hatch it and see what comes out. I am sending you some photos of it, What do you suggest i do with it.
Please answer back Sensirly: Agatino Caruso of Wall New Jersey , Momouth County.
Signature: Agatino Caruso

Sphinx Moth Pupa

Sphinx Moth Pupa

Dear Agatino,
Was there a tomato plant near that location last season?  This is the pupa of a Sphinx Moth, most likely one of the members of the genus
Manduca that have caterpillars that feed upon the leaves of tomato and some other plants in the family Solanacea.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: green caterpillar
Location: Mumbai, India
February 21, 2014 4:41 am
this caterpillar was on a flowering plant in our garden . quite big . it is end of winter (very mild here in Mumbai )
thanks for time and effort
your site is wonderful
Signature: Jeet Sudhir Malhotra

Oleander Sphinx

Oleander Sphinx

Dear Jeet,
This caterpillar is the Oleander Sphinx, the caterpillar of the Oleander Hawkmoth,
Daphnis neri.  Caterpillars in this family, Sphingidae, often have caudal horns, hence the common name Hornworm.  Sphinx also refers to the caterpillar because of the characteristic pose struck by the caterpillar.  The false eyespots characteristic of this Hornworm are a defense mechanism utilized by many insects so they appear larger and more fierce.  The Oleander Sphinx frequently darkens just prior to pupation.  Adults are generally called Oleander Hawkmoths.

Oleander Sphinx

Oleander Sphinx

Thanks Daniel . Really appreciate the quick reply
My daughter just spotted another one –the darker version right now in the garden , near the same tree- It was found on the ground . it has a very jerky action when touched .it remains in curved position and when touched curls to the other direction . really amazing . We will keep a watch and hope we get a chance to see the pupa and the moth
But am a tad disappointed that it is not a butterfly !!!!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: CATERPILLAR
Location: EASTERN CAPE
February 20, 2014 2:17 am
We have had five HUGE caterpillars in our Hibiscus Tree, the largest measuring 12cm and as thick as a man’s thumb. Please identify them for us.
Signature: Desmond

Arrow Sphinx Hornworm

Arrow Sphinx Hornworm

Dear Desmond,
Several years ago we received similar images from South Africa and we were puzzled.  This caterpillar has a caudal horn which would indicate the Sphinx Moth family Sphingidae, but the spines on the body are more consistent with a Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar in the family Saturniidae.  We eventually learned that this is the caterpillar of an Arrow Sphinx
Lophostethus dumolinii.  INaturalist which pictures the adult moth indicates “It is known from most habitats, except desert and high mountains throughout the Ethiopian Region, excluding Madagascar and the Cape in South Africa.”  Your Cape sighting might be evidence of a range expansion, perhaps due to global climate changes.  Hibiscus is also listed as a food plant for the caterpillar.  Additional images of the caterpillar can be found on ISpot.  We are copying Bill Oehlke who assisted in the identification several years ago and we suspect he may request permission to post your photo on his own website.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination