Name that bug?
Location: Perth, Western Australia
May 13, 2011 3:50 am
We have passed this around our office (staff of over a hundred), and no one has been able to identify.
Please help us!!
We quickly identified your caterpillar as Hippotion celerio on the Butterfly House website devoted to the Lepidoptera of Australia. It is commonly called a Gabi Moth or Vine Hawkmoth. The Butterfly House website indicates: “This Caterpillar occurs world-wide. It can occur in several different colour forms: green, brown, red or dark grey. It usually has an eyespot each side of the first and second abdominal segments, those on the first segment being larger. There are variable cryptic stripes and bands along the rest of the body. The Caterpillar has a tailhorn curved slightly backwards which tapers to a point.” This is actually an Old World species and it is not found in North America or South America. According to the Sphingidae of the Western Palaearctic website, it is described as: “A notable migrant in most years from tropical Africa and India to the western Palaearctic region. In warm years, new colonies may even be established in North Africa and Europe, so the delineation between resident and migrant ranges cannot be clearly defined. It is, however, resident in the Canary Islands, and probably also in the Azores and along the Atlantic coast of Morocco. It is certainly resident in many areas of the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula (Pittaway, 1979b), and Egypt (Badr et al., 1985). Extra-limital range. Tropical Africa, Asia and Australia, with occasional records from northern New Zealand.” The caterpillar in your photo is reacting as though it was threatened based on this information on the Sphingidae of the Western Palaearctic website: “As with most larvae exhibiting anterior eye-spots, the head is retracted when the larva is alarmed, expanding the large eye-spots on the first abdominal segment. When feeding, it rarely consumes the whole of a leaf; shoots with quarter- or half-eaten leaves often indicate the presence of a larva. Whereas young larvae may be found beneath a leaf, fully-grown specimens usually rest away from the feeding area, farther down the stem.” This species is known to feed on grape as well as numerous other plants.