Subject: caterpillar, South Africa
Location: Pretoria, Villieria, South Africa
December 17, 2016 2:11 pm
I found my cat playing with this in my garden today, with a lot of interested birds hanging about. I rescued it and tried to put it in a safe place back into my garden after taking this pic. Couldn’t find it there later, so, hope it managed to hide itself again. Luckily it had no injuries.
It made a loud clicking sound with its mouthparts which I assume was a defence response to scare off any predators.
I’ve tried to google to find out what it is. The nearest thing I found was a sphinx moth caterpillar in America, but not this specific form which I assume is endemic to South Africa. I have seen sphinx moths growing up here as a child, but very rarely so. It has a tail spike which looks a bit like a flower stamen – it has little yellow nodules on it.
Hoping you guys can help out.
Signature: a wild gardener
Dear wild gardener,
You are correct that this is the caterpillar of a Sphinx Moth in the family Sphingidae. More specifically, it is a Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar, Acherontia atropos.
Thanks! These moths are very rare, I hope the caterpillar makes it to mothood! :} Your link to the South African biodiversity site not longer works, herewith the updated link: