What is this big juicy brown, vivid green and iridescent blue caterpillar?!
I live in Hokkaido in northern Japan, and yesterday I found a bush that is absolutely COVERED with these caterpillars. The leaves in the photo are about half my palm size and the caterpillar is as long and as thick as my thumb.
They are fleshy, not hairy, with two bright yellow, black and blue eye spots, and bright iridescent blue speckles all over them. I think they are a moth of some kind but can’t get any closer than that. Help!
Vicky in Hokkaido

hi Vicky,
This is most certainly a Sphinx Caterpillar or Hawk Moth Caterpillar in the family Sphingidae. We located a website of Sphingidae from Japan, but it is difficult to search and does not have caterpillar images. We have contacted Bill Oehlke to see if he recognizes the species. This is a gorgeous caterpillar.

Update: (08/27/2008)
Daniel,
Beautiful image, but I am not sure it is a Sphingid, as pose with posterior end raised is not typical of any Sphingidae as far as I know.
Bill Oehlke

Update: (08/27/2008)
Thank you for your very quick reply! You are right, it is gorgeous, but I have a surfeit of them – they are DEVOURING one of my bushes in my garden! My Japanese-reading son got out some bug books and he found out that it is an “Akebi Konoha” in Japanese, and its latin name is Adris tyrannus amurenseis, which as far as I can tell doesn’t have a common name. As I am ignorant about moth varieties this could well be a sphynx caterpillar…… On Googling a bit more and looking in the dictionary, we found that Akebi is the name of the plant it lives on, which is translated as a Chocolate Vine in English, and yes, that is what they are chomping on! So it seems to be a fairly specialised thing…. We found a Japanese site here, with photos of more caterpillars and the adult moth – DOES it have a common name? http://aoki2.si.gunma-u.ac.jp/youtyuu/HTMLs/akebikonoha020921.html Thanks again for your help – I hate not knowing what things are, yet living in Japan it’s very hard for me to look stuff up intelligently and often the western websites don’t have the exact same things on them. I’m glad too that you found it interesting. They really are beautiful, if not a bit revolting en masse!
Vicky in Hokkaido

Hi Vicky,
We were incorrect about this being a Sphinx Moth. It is a Fruit Piercing Moth.

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