Unknown caterpillar, St Thomas, Virgin Islands
February 27, 2010
Got a few photos of this guy/gal near a mangrove lagoon area on St Thomas, VI. I don’t remember the time of year. From what I recall it was on or near a potted allamamda, if that helps at all… I’ve only seen one of these in the more than two years I’ve lived here, and nobody seems to be familiar with them. The frangiapani caterpillar on the other hand, is in full force at the moment…
St Thomas, Virgin Islands, Caribbean
This is not the ideal angle of view to provide an identification, but we are nearly certain this is the caterpillar of an Ello Sphinx, Erinnyis ello which is pictured on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website. We tried to access the Virgin Islands section of the site, which indicates the Sphingidae or Sphinx Moth species that are found in the nations of the Carribean, but that page was unavailable. We did find the Ello Sphinx listed on the Dominican Republic page. Most Sphinx Moth Caterpillars possess a caudal horn, owing to the common name Hornworm, but the Ello Sphinx Caterpillar loses its horn before reaching the final caterpillar instar. We are copying Bill Oehlke on this response to see if he can confirm this identification, and also because he is compiling statistics on species distribution. He may also be able to correct the accessibility of the Virgin Islands page of his website.
Bill Oehlke agrees
It is one of the Erinnyis species, and I also favour ello, but it could also be alope.
I have not yet compiled a list for Virgin Islands, but I suspect it would be same as what I have for Puerto Rico.
I will copy and paste Puerto Rico list and name it Virgin Islands, and will do some quick searches to see if I can find anything more scientific.
Wow, thanks to both you and Bill for the quick response. Yes, the lack of horn back there had been one of the things throwing me off… I’ll have to dig around through my photos and see if I can find the other shots I took that day. There’s certainly no lack of interesting insects down here. My favorite was the 9 inch walking stick bug that I found one day, because it was sitting right on my backpack that I set down for just a minute on a hike over on St John. When I tried to move it so I could take my bag, it reared up its back end to mimic a scorpion pose.
Well, thanks again, have a good one…
Here’s a couple more shots. None from the top unfortunately…