Moth Caterpillars from Costa Rica, one parasitized by wasp

Subject: Caterpillars in Costa Rica
Location: Monteverde, Costa Rica
April 24, 2015 10:28 am
What are these caterpillars, what are they going to turn into, why do they clump like this, and why does one (lower right) appear to have white things on it?
Signature: Ashley from the Monteverde Institute

Nymphalidae Caterpillars
Moth Caterpillars

Dear Ashley,
We believe these Caterpillars are in the Brush Footed Butterfly family Nymphalidae, and the caterpillar in question appears to have been parasitized by a Chalcid or Braconid Wasp.  We will contact Keith Wolfe to see if he can identify the caterpillars more specifically.

Nymphalidae Caterpillar parasitized by Wasp
Moth Caterpillar parasitized by Wasp

Keith Wolfe provides a correction
Hi Daniel,
Nope, these are immature moths, the scoli (spines) being much too long for any Neotropical nymphalid.
Best wishes,

After Keith Wolfe’s correction, we are now speculating that they are relatives of Buck Moths in the subfamily Hemileucinae and we will see if Bill Oehlke can provide any information.

2 thoughts on “Moth Caterpillars from Costa Rica, one parasitized by wasp”

  1. These are Hylesia larvae (Saturniidae), there are over 100 species in the neotropics. The larvae are gregarious, often nocturnal and roost in “rafts” during the day on lower trunks, in treeholes, under loose bark and even rock crevices in their later instars. The long anterior scoli broadened at tips with bands of bright white, black or metallic blue are diagnostic. The adult female moths of some species are famous for causing vicious rashes in humans (see Carapito Itch).


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