Caterpillars from Puerto Rico (moths?) Sun, Jan 25, 2009 at 7:18 AM
These caterpillars were photographed in the humid karstic forest of northern Puerto Rico. The one with the “horns” is huge. I found it on a Piper shrub (Piperaceae), and the several I’ve seen are always out at night. At first I thought it would be a species of Heraclides (Papilionidae) but after checking some pictures, I decided it can’t be. I was photographed in summer (though seasons i Puerto Rico are not well defined, except rainy/dry).
The other caterpillar was shot by day, in the same general habitat. I was photographed just a couple of weeks ago.
I have a lot of unidentified insects in my website on Caribbean Natural History ( www.kingsnake.com/westindian ). If it is OK with you, perhaps you can pay it a visit and provide me with any corrections/information you might think is relevant.
Thanks a lot for your kind help.
Puerto Rico, northern karstic humid forest
Hello again Alejandro,
We fear we are not really being of much assistance to you today. In our humble opinion, we would guess that these might be Prominent Moth Caterpillars in the family Notodontidae. You can see some North American specimens on BugGuide. Many Prominent Moth Caterpillars have unusual projections on their bodies similar to the ones on both of your specimens. We will post your photos in the hope someone can assist in the identification. We will also link to your marvelous website and hope your site doesn’t crash from the additional traffic.
Confirmation from Eric Eaton
Monday, January 26, 2009
I think you are probably correct with the caterpillar IDs….
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I haven’t been able to identify the first image but I believe the second one is of a Prominent moth in the genus Nystalea, probably N. collaris. The web site for Area de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG) has a huge searchable database of moth (adult and caterpillar) images, including many for the various instars and color phases of N. collaris. The species ranges from southern Texas to Costa Rica, and the Antilles. Regards.
Update: February 13, 2009
Greetings Father Sánchez,
Since my research is limited to the early stages of butterflies (not enough hours in a day to add moths), I can only identify your first photo. It is a caterpillar of the Silverking butterfly, *Archaeoprepona demophoon* (Nymphalidae, Charaxinae), which feeds on several genera in the Lauraceae, its presence on *Piper* a result of wandering. As you discovered, *Heraclides* swallowtail larvae look entirely different and more or less like this:
Update: Sat, Feb 14, 2009 at 8:05 AM
The caterpillar in the first image is not a Prominent moth, but a Leafwing butterfly (Nymphalidae : Charaxinae). It is a Two-Spotted Prepona (Archaeoprepona demophoon); not to be confused with the One-Spotted Prepona (A. demophon). The name Silverking may be more common in the Antilles. The distribution of A. demophoon is from Mexico to northern Argentina, including the Caribbean. Within that area the genus is broken down into at least 10 sub-species, each with its own fairly distinct distribution. The variety found in Puerto Rico (and apparently nowhere else) is A. d. ramorosum. The ACG site mentioned above has numerous images of A. demophoon caterpillars and adults. Regards.