What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Unknown Caterpillar
Location: Corozal, Belize, Central America 18° 22’29.81″W 88° 23′ 59.71″W
January 9, 2016 3:25 pm
Hi Bugman,
The other day, we were working under our parking palapa, and upon moving a tarp, out popped this fellow.
He’s about 3/4″ to 1″ in diameter, and when extended, abut 6″ to 7″ long.
We’ve lived here for nine years and have never seen one like him, or even close.
If you could identify him for us that would be super.
Thank you.
Signature: David Rider

Fig Sphinx Caterpillar

Fig Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear David,
Your submission is quite timely, because we just posted an image of an adult Fig Sphinx.  Your Fig Sphinx Caterpillar represents one color variation for this variable species, and we are surmising there is a fig tree in the genus
Ficus somewhere near your parking palapa.

Fig Sphinx Caterpillar

Fig Sphinx Caterpillar

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Corozal, Belize

2 Responses to Fig Sphinx Caterpillar from Belize

  1. winjama says:

    Hi Bugman,

    I did check out our ficus tree and found several more similar caterpillars. None had coloring the same as the one in the photos. In fact, coloring seemed to be very individual.

    I do have a question regarding the caterpillar I observed going into the pile of thatch, possibly to enter metamorphosis, can you give me some idea as to how long that stage of its life will last? I’d really like to clean up the thatch pile, but I don’t want to disturb the caterpillar’s life process.

    Thanks,
    Winjama

    • bugman says:

      Since you are in a tropical climate, according to the Sphingidae of the Americas “There are several flights throughout the year in the tropics” your caterpillar will probably complete metamorphosis without having to wait the entire winter. Sphingidae of the Americas also notes “Larvae pupate in thin walled cocoons under leaf litter” so your thatch pile sounds like a perfect pupation location. We suspect about two months is required to complete the metamorphosis, but that tempting thatch pile may also be used by the other caterpillars found on your tree. Neat and tidy gardens are never as insect friendly as more natural, overgrown gardens.

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