Subject: Caterpillar ID – Ethiopia
February 21, 2017 2:50 am
This may appear a bit of a long shot, but I’ve been trying to ID a caterpillar that I saw in Ethiopia’s Somali region in December 2015….
Any ideas what it is? The local people didn’t know it’s “English” name, but said it’s hairs were poisonous to cattle and told me not to touch it. It was about 15cm long (5-6 inches).
This sure looks to us like a Lappet Moth Caterpillar from the family Lasiocampidae, and it is our understanding that some species in the family have urticating or stinging hairs. We did find a similar looking Lasiocampidae Caterpillar from Ethiopia identified as Thaumetopoea apologetica on iSpot where the caption states: “Urticating moth caterpillar causing skin and respiratory problems in cattle.” An even closer match may be the Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar, Eutricha capensis, that is pictured on Africa Wild where it states: “Larvae congregate conspicuously on tree trunks, feeding on Acacia, white stinkwood (Celtis), bush willow (Combretum), Bauhinia and other trees in nature, and on trees such as mango, peach and the Brazilian Pepper in gardens.” The plant it is feeding upon in your image appears to be an Acacia. More images of the Cape Lappet Moth Caterpillar can be found on Hedgie’s Nature Journal. We cannot state for certain we have the correct species, but we are confident we have the family correct.