What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What is this caterpillar
Location: Paphos Cyprus
October 12, 2016 4:02 am
There are a lot of these very mobile caterpillars in the hedges around our villa in Cyprus – we guess they are Hawk Moths but something more specific would be appreciated. They are light green over 30mm long with a ponounced rear face with yellow horn , longitudinal stripes either side and light coloured almost illuminous vertical stripes. The front face has small whitish eyes st back along the head.
Signature: Regards Ray

Oleander Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Oleander Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Ray,
As you noticed, the backward facing yellow horn is quite distinctive, and also indicative that this is a Hawkmoth caterpillar or Hornworm in the family Sphingidae.  Is there much oleander growing in the vicinity where they were discovered?  This is a very green Oleander Hawkmoth Caterpillar,
Daphnis nerii, and according to Wildscreen Arkive:  “As they get older, the larvae become green to brown with a large blue-and-white eyespot near the head and a yellow ‘horn’ on the rear. There is also a white band along the side of the body, with a scattering of small white and bluish dots alongside it. The spiracles on the sides of the body are black.  Older oleander hawk-moth larvae measure around 7.5 to 8.5 centimetres in length.  Just before it pupates, the oleander hawk-moth larva becomes browner in colour. ”  Most images of Oleander Hawkmoth Caterpillars on our site are pre-pupal and browner in color.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Paphos, Cyprus

5 Responses to Oleander Hawkmoth Caterpillar on Cyprus

  1. Bostjan Dvorak says:

    This is an interesting information… This species is really well represented in the current year, as far north as the northern Adriatic coast (an exceptionally good year). But the younger caterpillars should not leave the oleander shrubs at all… – except, maybe, they have completely eaten them. But I hope this is not the case, and find this very improbable… Is the Oleander hawkmoth photo from there? – They can reach about 13 cm or more, but always stay well hidden on the twigs. — It could be eventually another (more rare and local) species of hawkmoth caterpillars with eyespots – like Theretra alecto or Hippotion celerio, which are much more mobile indeed… – as eating on vine species and other smaller plants, and forced to leave and change the hosts quite frequently… They can be green or brown. Are there several pairs of eyespots on their necks? – Many Thanks and curious wishes from Berlin

  2. Bob Squirrell says:

    Just found one on our single Oleander, here in Tremisthousa, Paphos. About 9cm long with very bright “eyes”. Happy to post photo if allowed.

  3. Bostjan Dvorak says:

    Wow! – Which makes evident they develop through the winter in the region. On northern Adriatic coast (Piran) I had the same suspect, finding them very late from time to time; but we have some frosts during a usual winter. This species has no dormant stage and develops continually.

    Nice wishes,
    Bostjan

    • Bob Squirrell says:

      Update: due to said caterpillar ignoring the abundant leaves and eating the few flowers and buds on our one and only standard oleander, plus the daily chore of sweeping up the caterpillar poo – amazing how much one daphnis nerii can produce – I have been forced to relocate him/her(?) to a secret wilderness location where there are hundreds of flowering oleanders. It took one look, went “Yippee” in caterpillar speak and crawled at an amazing pace into the abundant green foliage in search of the fastest route to the pink tips. To judge by the missing tips of a number of green leaves, I think it(?) will soon be joining up with many friends in time for settling down, fully feasted, for the winter ahead. I shall be visiting from time to time to check on its progress and well being.

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