One eyed caterpillar
Location: Fort Myers Florida
October 30, 2011 4:58 pm
I found this caterpillar after I carried some dead Plumeria branches out to the trash. I think it had been hiding in the branches for cover because it had a similar color. I live in Fort Myers. The caterpillar appears to be about ready to pupate. There are Live Oaks in the area and lots of bromeliads & other plants.
Signature: Thanks, Carol Schumann
Your caterpillar is an Ello Sphinx Caterpillar, Erinnyis ello, and the eye is actually a marking known as an ocellus or false eyespot that is a defense mechanism to protect many insects against predators that might mistake a tasty morsel for an even larger predator. Fully developed Ello Sphinx Caterpillars lose the caudal horn, so your individual is probably still not ready to pupate. This is a highly variable caterpillar, and you can see some of the variations on the Sphingidae of the Americas website. We have been unable to determine if the Ello Sphinx Caterpillars are known to feed on plumeria. BugGuide lists food plants as: “Recorded feeding on members of the following plant families: Caricaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Myrtaceae, Sapotaceae.”
I was so thrilled to find this caterpillar! We have all of those plant families in our yard! I have seen the moth drawn to the front porch by the night light. This is the first time I have seen the caterpillar!
Thank you for the identification. It is greatly appreciated! 🙂