Subject: octopus looking bug
Geographic location of the bug: Arenal, Costa Rica
Time: 07:02 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I found the weirdest insect in Costa Rica Arenal at a Hotel Lomas Del Volcan
it was near the pool on a palm leaf. When we first saw it we thought it was dead leaf on the palm tree. I shook the palm leaf and it fell to the ground that is when I saw it was a living thing. One of the appendages came off. I think this might be a defense I am not sure. I picked it up and we got one pic of the underside looked like some type of slug. I then turned it back upright and put it back on the palm leaf. It looked like it puffed up and was going to metamorph into something else. In the morning I checked on it and it had moved again from the underside of the leaf to the top of the palm leave. so it looked like it formed a protection and then moved when it was ready. Very strange looking forward to knowing if you have ever seen anything like this before.
How you want your letter signed: Terri Martin
This is the caterpillar of a moth in the genus Phobetron, and in North America, the species Phobetron pithecium, the Hag Moth has a similar looking caterpillar commonly called a Monkey Slug, but caution should be exercised when handling the unusual caterpillar as it is capable of stinging. Researchgate has a scholarly article entitled Twenty-Five new species of Costa Rican Limacodidae that lists six newly discovered species in the Phobetron complex including Phobetron guzmanae and Alex Hyde PHotography has an image of an adult Phobetron hipparchia from Costa Rica. If Alamy is correct, the Monkey Slug ranges as far south as Costa Rica, but we would not rule out that your caterpillar might be a member of a different species in the genus or possibly the genus complex mentioned earlier.