Subject: Unknown caterpillar in Guatemala
Geographic location of the bug: Tikal, Peten, Guatemala
Time: 10:53 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi
I ‘d be fascinated to know what this caterpillar turns into. Can you help, please?
The pic was taken at 3am on January 6th in Tikal, Guatemala. The beast in question was on a tree trunk in the carpark, around 50cm off the ground. It was approx. 40 – 50mm long.
How you want your letter signed: Thanks, Steve
Our initial thought was that this must be the Caterpillar of a Skipper in the family Hesperiidae because of the shape of the head. Skippers are butterflies, but they share many characteristics typically associated with moths. You may scroll down to an image of a Longtailed Skipper on Tortoise Preserve where it states: “Like other skipper caterpillars, this species has a large head.” Your individual looks very much like the caterpillar of a Zilpa Longtail, Chioides zilpa, pictured on Butterflies of America that were taken in Costa Rica, a country with a much greater online database of insects, including butterflies and moths, than does Guatemala. If our identification is correct, the adult Zilpa Longtail is pictured on the North American Butterfly Association of South Texas site. We will try contacting Keith Wolfe to see if he can verify our identification.