What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  What type of caterpillar is it
Geographic location of the bug:  Ballito south Africa
Date: 01/04/2018
Time: 01:50 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Please could you let me know what type of caterpillar it is and are they poisonous it is about 10 cm long and as thick as a pork sausage
How you want your letter signed:  Very interested

Spiny Hornworm: Lophostethus dumolinii

Dear Very Interested,
When we first posted images of this Spiny Hornworm Caterpillar,
Lophostethus dumolinii, back in 2011, it proved quite the challenge to identify.  We sought the assistance of Bill Oehlke with the identification.  At that time, we couldn’t locate any matching images online. We now found a matching image on Aylestone 8:  Biodiversity on my Farm and there is also an image on African Moths.  Hornworms, the caterpillars of Hawkmoths in the family Sphingidae, are not poisonous or venomous, and despite a sometimes fierce appearance, they are harmless to humans.

Spiny Hornworm: Lophostethus dumolinii

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Ballito, South Africa

2 Responses to Spiny Hornworm from South Africa

  1. Minor correction: at least some Sphinx larvae may be poisonous.

    Manduca larvae apparently use the potent defenses of their host plants (including tobacco, how ironic) for their own protection. Of course, none of this makes any difference for the rather alarmed asker, because by definition poisonous caterpillars must be eaten to cause harm.


    • bugman says:

      Thanks for that clarification Alex, though it was our understanding that though the Tobacco Hornworm has an unpleasant taste, it is not toxic if ingested.

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