Subject: mass of prickly caterpillars
Location: Toledo District, Belize
December 19, 2014 12:50 pm
Hi, Bug Folks,
I’ve seen individuals of this caterpillar in the past, but never masses like this. They are feeding on a common wild shrub called “polly redhead” in Belize. I’ve seen it in FL nurseries as “fire bush”.
We believe these are stinging Silkmoth Caterpillars in the genus Leucanella, but in doing some research, the only species we can substantiate from Belize is Leucanella acutissima, but we did not locate an image of the caterpillar. We are going to contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can substantiate the species, and since he is lacking images of the caterpillar of Leucanella acutissima, we suspect he may request permission to post your images to his comprehensive site. If this is another species in the genus, he may also want to request permission to post the images as a record of a new species in Belize. We hope you will grant him permission.
Update: We found some images of the caterpillar of Leucanella acutissima on Bio-Nica and they look correct.
Bill Oehlke responds
Those seem a good match for acutissima larvae. There are a couple of other species documented from Mexico that have not been documented fromBbelize, but I would not be surprised if they are also present