Location: Kanto Plain, Japan
September 25, 2010 6:10 am
Hello, we live on a military base in Japan and I found a bunch of these guys snacking on my Impatiens. THey were passing up the begonias…but the impatiens were stripped clean. Any ideas?
We had spent considerable time trying somewhat unsuccessfully to conclusively identify your Hornworm Caterpillar in the family Sphingidae, moths commonly called Hawkmoths or Sphinx Moths, before our search ended with a match that satisfies us. Your specimen somewhat resembles a dark morph of the caterpillar of the species Hippotion rosetta which we located on a Sphingidae of Japan website. There are better images of the caterpillar on the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website, but the yellow bands visible on your specimen are not represented in the photos on that site. There are four other species in the genus listed on the Sphingidae of Japan website, but several do not include photos of the caterpillars. The caterpillar of Hippotion boerhaviae pictured on the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website was another possibility. The Bedstraw Hawkmoth, Hyles gallii, is a wide ranging species with a highly variable caterpillar and it is native to Japan as evidenced by its inclusion in the Sphingidae of Japan website, and that caterpillar also shares some similar traits with your specimen. Then we found an exact match to your caterpillar, listed only as the Impatiens Hawk Moth Caterpillar on Flickr, but alas, there was no scientific name. We became excited because the plant in your photo is an impatiens. That thread led us to the Natural Japan website where we found the scientific name of the Impatiens Hawkmoth to be Theretra oldenlandiae. We then headed back to the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website and found an exact match to your caterpillar with another common name of Taro Hornworm. Matching images of caterpillars can also be found on the Sphingidae of Japan website.