Subject: Ok, got an exotic caterpillar for ya
Location: Chichen Itza complex, Yucatan, Mexico
July 17, 2012 9:36 pm
I took a pic of this large caterpillar last week while visiting Chichen Itza in the Mexican state of Yucatan. It was inching along a stone path under tree cover. Sadly I don’t have anything in the image to act as a frame of reference but its length was around 5 inches. My best guess is some sort of Automeris moth caterpillar, but you guys are the experts. What do you think?
Chichen Itza coordinates:
20° 40′ 58.44″ N, 88° 34′ 7.14″ W
Signature: Shannon Hammonds

Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar: Automeris from Yucatan

Hi Shannon,
We agree that this is an Automeris species.  They should not be handled because of the poisonous spines which can cause a very nasty reaction to human skin. We could not find a match on The Kirby Wolfe Saturniidae Collection website in our quick search.  We will give it another try as we try to contact Kirby.

Thanks, Daniel… you guys are awesome.  Your site is my go-to reference for insects that I can’t ID.

Kirby Wolfe Responds
Hi Daniel,
That caterpillar is a mystery to me.  The only hemileucine that would have a larva that large in Mexico would be Automeris metzli, but this larva does not look at all like that of metzli.  Unfortunately, the most defining character of many Automeris larvae is the midlateral band, which does not show in the photograph.  Sorry to not be of more help.
Kirby L. Wolfe
Research Associate
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

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Location: Mexico

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