Location: Somerset West, Cape Town
April 11, 2013 10:30 pm
Hi – these caterpillars ate a flourishing pot of impatiens overnight last week. They are about five centimetres long, very fat, have two ”eyes” on the front of the head, and a spike at the end of the body. They are greenish-brown coloured. They didn’t react when touched – no curling. Do you know what they are. I’ve never had them in my garden before – not that I have seen. I live in Somerset West, outside Cape Town.
This is a Hornworm, the harmless caterpillar of a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae. We did a web search for South African species and found this posting on Caterpillar Blog identified as Hippotion celerio. We then searched that name and found a nice posting on Butterfly House that includes stamps with images of the adult moth which is called the Vine Hawkmoth or Gabi Moth. The Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic also provides some good information.