strange caterpillars
I realize you are super busy and you may not get to my request. I recently found your site and its terrific. I am a high school Biology teacher and plan to use the website somehow during the year! Now, to my request: I just returned from a vacation in the Caribbean and Mexico. While visiting the Mayan ruins at Chacchoben in the Yucatan, I noticed this cluster of caterpillars. We were on a tour and couldn’t linger but I managed to snap the attached picture. I pride myself in being able to find anything on the Internet, but alas I have been unable to identify these strange creatures. I have also consulted several books on the subject and have come up dry. I am starting to think they aren’t even caterpillars. Can you help? Thanks,
Sarah S.
Bakersfield CA

Hi Sarah,
How can we help but to try to come to the assistance of someone who uses the word “Alas” in a plea? First, there isn’t much documentation of rain forest species. Even if the adult is known to science, the life cycle might not be documented. Our first inclination was that perhaps this is some relative of the Tetrio Sphinx, Pseudosphinx tetrio, but we couldn’t locate any relatives. The red terminal pro-legs and coloration led us on that tract. Then we thought there was a resemblance to the Cucullia species caterpillars we know from the U.S. Those are our two best guesses. We will post your image in the hopes that readers out there have too much time on their hands and are able to find an answer. Please let us know if you find the answer.

Update: (06/30/2008) Arsenura armida Caterpillars
With our fourth submission of Caterpillar Aggregation images, we are convinced that this species is Arsenura armida, a Neotropical Silkmoth that ranges from tropical Mexico to Bolivia and Southeastern Brazil. We just located a website with valuable information written by James T. Costa , Department of Biology Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC.

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