BIG caterpillar
Would you please identify this BIG caterpillar for me and tell me what kind of Moth it will become? I live in Sarasota, FL, and I found it on a morning walk with my dog about a month ago. I thought it was the severed head of a snake when I first saw it. The little dot in the teardrop shaped circle on the caterpillars back end had an odd pulse to it. The dot was shiny, where the rest of the caterpillar looked like feathers. The thing was quite strong and heavy, as caterpillars go. The caterpillar was about 4 inches long and about 3/4 inch in diameter, and well camoflaged. I took it to my grandkids to see the oddity and they released it in a wooded area after a good look. I thought they may never see such a thing again. It was my first time to see such a BIG caterpillar, too. Thank you for your help!
Jane H.
Sarasota, FL

Hi Jane,
This is a Gaudy Sphinx Caterpillar, Eumorpha labruscae. The dot you mention is the remains of the caudal horn found on most caterpillars of Sphinx Moths. In the Gaudy Sphinx, the horn is shed and a callous remains. The caterpillar is an excellent snake mimic which helps to prevent it from being eaten by birds. The moth is a beautiful green color with blue and red on the underwings.

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