What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Christmas Tree Caterpillar
Location: Mulu National Park, Sarawak, Malasia (Borneo)
October 29, 2010 5:59 am
I found this caterpillar in Mulu National Park, Sarawak, Malasia. Do you know the name??
Signature: With regards, Steven Gehner

Archduke Caterpillar

Dear Steven,
We are posting your awesome image without doing any research as time does not permit it at the moment.  We believe this is a Stinging Caterpillar in the Slug Moth family Limacodidae, but there are also some unusual looking stinging caterpillars in the family Saturniidae and we would not rule out that possibility.

Correction Courtesy of Karl
Hi Daniel and Steven:
It certainly looks like a Limacodid moth caterpillar but it is actually a butterfly in the family Nymphalidae. It reminds me of the Baron (Euthalia sp.) from India posted previously on WTB. This one, however, is in the genus Lexias, probably L. pardalis. It also has a royal common name, the Archduke. There are at least nine other species of Lexias on Borneo, most of which I couldn’t find caterpillar pictures for, but I think this one looks close enough to L. pardalis to call it. Apparently this caterpillar’s menacing appearance is all a bluff – it is perfectly harmless. Regards.  Karl

Thanks Karl,
It really does look identical to the Archduke Caterpillar,
Lexias pardalis dirteana, on the link you provided.

Keith Wolfe offers another possibility
Hi Steven and Daniel,
In the interest of scientific accuracy (regrettably, the Internet is full of potentially misleading, and downright wrong, caterpillar identifications that subsequent visitors take as valid and unwittingly perpetuate), please allow me to caution that it’s equally possible for this distinctive young butterfly to be Lexias dirtea, the so-called Black-tipped Archduke.  The two species have virtually identical adults and immatures, which I know firsthand having reared L. dirtea (coincidentally from Borneo) and a number of related taxa.
Best wishes,
Keith Wolfe

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

3 Responses to Archduke Caterpillar from Borneo (or possibly Black Tipped Archduke Caterpillar)

  1. Krista Orangutan says:

    I am not sure about the “perfectly harmless” description. All of the local people say be careful and do not want to touch it.

  2. Antony says:

    I can agree with what the locals say Krista after inadvertantly touching it. Quite a sting but not as bad as I would have expected. More like a wasp sting which didn’t last for too long fortunately.

    And WTB, great work and thanks for the info

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