What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Poisonous?
Location: Dhahran, KSA
November 24, 2012 2:04 pm
Are these caterpillars poisonous? When i tried to remove one ’with a stick’ it tried to sting me with its ’horn/stinger!’ and squirted a green liquid!
My cat tried to eat one and it did this to him! Right between his eyes!! I would really like to know its name? If its poisonous or not? And if they are butterflies or moths?!
In the last picture: the yellow one is the one that tried to sting me and you can see traces of the green stuff that it squirted! It wasnt that yellow before i think it chaged colors!!
Signature: Dee


Dear Dee,
These are Sphinx Moth Caterpillars in the family Sphingidae, and they are frequently called Hornworms.  We know of no poisonous Hornworms, so our speculation is that they are harmless.  Many Sphinx Moth Caterpillars are edible, including a North American species that looks quite similar, the Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar. 
Hyles lineata. One Hornworm that just might be poisonous is the Oleander Hawkmoth Caterpillar which feeds on the leaves of the deadly oleander plant, and it might be able to sythesize the poison and make use of the toxin for protection.


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Saudi Arabia

2 Responses to Sphinx Moth Caterpillars from Saudi Arabia

  1. Bostjan Dvorak says:

    How interesting! These caterpillars were of the Convolvulus hawkmoth (Old-World-Pink-Spotted-Hawkmoth) Agrius convolvuli. They feed on plants of the morningglory-family (Convolvulaceae). The two larvae on the picture have just moulted and their skin is fresh and soft; at this stage they should grow to a triple size at least, and then pupate in soft soil underground. Late november is interesting for larvae at this stage – but the finding place is far south; however, I am pretty sure the pupae overwinter there until mid-april or may, as the temperature is lower in the wintertime. A. convolvuli is a migrating species with high spread…

    Nice wishes,

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