Subject: big caterpillar
Location: Gulfport, Florida 33707 USA
December 11, 2014 7:45 am
Thanks for taking the time to look at my bug request. I saw it in pinellas county Florida on 12/9/14 at 7pm. It was crawling up a Papaya tree and I have never seen one like this before. Wondering if it’s a “good” or “bad” bug, especially for my Papaya. Thanks again
Signature: not sure what this means
Dear not sure what this means,
This is a Hornworm, a Sphinx Moth Caterpillar in the genus Erynnyis, probably the brown form of Erynnyis alope which is pictured on the Sphingidae of the Americas site. The Pinellas County, Florida Sphingidae Larva page pictures that species at the top, but identifies three members of the genus, Erinnyis ello and Erinnyis obscura in addition to Erynnis alope, that feed on the leaves of Papaya. All three species have similar looking caterpillars and we cannot determine the exact species based on your image. Though they feed on the leaves of Papaya, the caterpillars are never present in numbers significant to do any damage, so we do not consider them to be a threat to your papaya tree nor its fruit.