Subject: Large NZ caterpillar
Location: Langs Beach, Northland, New Zealand
February 16, 2014 1:40 pm
Hi, found this today at Langs Beach, Northland, NZ. 60 mm long, approx 8-10 mm wide. Smooth appearance, ridged but no hairs, grey green, with yellowish stripes in the underpart of it’s body and also leading to a distinctive pronounced spike at the “tail” end. It doesn’t correspond to any of the large NZ caterpillars I know of because of the lack of other colours.
This caterpillar is a Hornworm in the family Sphingidae. We are not certain of the species and we wish you had included a lateral view of the caterpillar. If you scroll down the page on the Adur Hawkmoths page, you will see an image of the Convolvulus Hawkmoth Caterpillar, Agrius convolvuli, that looks remarkably like your caterpillar. The image is from Corbyn Crescent, UK, but this is a very far ranging species that can be found in New Zealand and Australia. The Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website has several drawings that illustrate the variability of the caterpillar coloration and markings, but more importantly, there is a map that shows New Zealand in the range. While we may not have the species correct, we can assure you that this Hornworm is in the family Sphingidae.
Thanks so much for your very prompt reply! I’m sure you’re right that it’s one or other of those. The one we saw looks pretty much like this (so far as I can tell from the website picture):
Interesting – we’ve never seen anything like it in NZ before (but then we’re complete novices on caterpillar identification!).
Kind regards, and thanks again.
In our opinion, your Hornworm is a different species than the one in the link you provided, however, both insects are in the same “pose” which may have acted as an influence for you. Again, a lateral view would be helpful for identification purposes.