Caterpillar, unknown species
November 1, 2009
We found this very large beautiful orange and blue caterpillar on the ground (dirt) next a wood pile in deep south Texas on November, 1. Weather is clear and temperature is about 70 degrees. Can you tell us if this becoimes a moth and if so what type? There are very large brown moths in this area this time of the year. We no nothing of their species, etc.
This is the caterpillar of the Fig Sphinx, Pachylia ficus. We suspect there is a fig tree nearby and that the Fig Sphinx Caterpillar has spent the season feeding on the leaves, unnoticed. It has left the tree to burrow underground where it will pupate. The adult moths are streamlined creatures with olive brown upper wings and striped underwings. You can see images of the adult moth on Bill Oehlke’s wonderful website. We love the photo showing the tiny horn. Sphinx Caterpillars are often called Hornworms, and the Ficus Sphinx has a tiny horn as the family characteristic goes.