Subject: Scary looking caterpillar
Location: Gisuru, Ruyigi, Burundi
February 14, 2016 4:51 pm
Any idea what this caterpillar is and what it may turn in to?! Seen in Gisuru, Ruyigi province of Burundi this evening, just hanging around outside the house … is it dangerous?!
This is one of the Giant Silkmoth Caterpillars in the family Saturniidae, and it looks very similar to one of the Marbled Emperors in the genus Heniocha, like this individual from the Republic of South Africa or this individual from Namibia. We are going to contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can provide any information as Caterpillars from Burundi are not well documented. Giant Silkmoth Caterpillars are generally not dangerous, though some species have stinging spines. The spines on your individual are not dangerous.
Bill Oehlke Responds
I think it is probably Gynanisa westwoodi, at least one of the Gynanisa.
Please give me submitter’s name and see if I can have permission to post. I will ask Thierry Bouyer for his opinion as he is more familiar with what is in western Tanzania and therefore likely in Burundi.
Burundi species list is on site, but not linked in the shortcuts section, just linked from the long table of country by country listing. I do not have any heniocha or Gynanisa listed for Burundi so it wil be interesting to hear what Thierry thinks.
Thanks for thinking of me.
Though we could not locate an online image of the caterpillar of Gynanisa westwoodi, we did find an image of the caterpillar of Gynanisa maja on African Moths and another on Silkmoths and More.
Bill Oehlke contacts Thierry Bouyer
Here is an image of what I think is most likely a Gynanisa species larva from Gisuru, Ruyigi, Burundi.
I do not have any Gynanisa species listed for Burundi, but I am hoping you know some of the possibilities which can be eliminated or would stand as maybe it is.
I think it could be westwoodi, jama, hecqui or thiryi. Maybe you can eliminate some and narrow down possibilities. Maybe something else I have not mentioned???
I have very tentatively identified it as westwoodi.
Thanks for your time.
Correction from Thierry Bouyer
not a Gynanisa but its is an Athletes (i would say semialba)
I do not have any images of Athletes larvae so Thierry’s reply comes as a bit of a pleasant surprise: