What did my son find?
June 20, 2009
My five year old LOVES catepillars and he found this one in Southwest Georgia on a Confederate Jasmine vine. It is about 1.25 inches.
Southwest Georgia US
We wonder by chance if your son raised this caterpillar to see what the adult is. We have been unsuccessful in pinpointing the species, but we have a far-fetched theory. We believe this most resembles the Splendid Royal Moth Caterpillar, Citheronia splendens pictured on BugGuide. There are several subspecies in Mexico and BugGuide lists sightings in Arizona and Florida. You are in south Georgia, and if there is an established population in Florida, it is entirely possible that your caterpillar might be a Splendid Royal Moth Caterpillar. The size you indicate would mean this is not the final instar for the caterpillar, and that it will grow, molt and change appearance before becoming a pupa. We expect that as soon as this is posted, someone will write in with an obvious identification that will make us feel foolish.
Update: with correction by Bill Oehlke
Seems we weren’t too far astray. Bill Oehlke believes this to be a Pine Devil Moth Caterpillar, Citheronia sepulcralis, a member of the same genus.
Citheronnia splendens sinaloensis would be far from natural habitat in Florida or Georgia. I believe it is an early instar of Citheronia sepulcralis.
I think that is what it is!! I found a sightings map and there have been some sighted about 45 miles west and southwest of my location which is Thomasville, GA. There is a Pitch pine behind our house…which is very unusual for this area. Must be where he came from. Can’t wait to tell my son what the caterpillar was. By the way, he did not raise it. We found it and released it. Thanks so much for your help!!! I’m sure we will be contacting you again because he is in the yard daily looking for “bugs”