Subject: Caterpillar eating plumeria leaves
Location: Puerto Vallarta
May 10, 2017 6:37 am
Normally, the only caterpillars that eat plumeria leaves are tetrio and an occasional starving monarch. This young one, munching away in Puerto Vallarta this May, has everyone stumped – no one has seen one before. Any ideas?
The forward facing, filamentous, caudal horn is quite unusual in this caterpillar, and we suspect like the Tetrio Sphinx, it is a Hornworm in the family Sphingidae. We do not recognize it either and we are going to request assistance from Bill Oehlke. It if is a Sphingiid, we suspect Bill may request permission to use the images on his very comprehensive site.
Update: Thanks to a comment from Bostjan Dvorak, we have learned that this Hornworm is Isognathus leachii. According to Sphingidae of the Americas: “Larvae have long tails; colouration suggests they are unpalatable to birds.”
Many thanks for the follow-up: I’ve posted in the plumeria Facebook forums. You now have Mexican Pacific coast to add to the confirmed range, and plumeria as a larvae host plant, and like tetrio, they eat a lot of leaves! I’ve also alerted Dr. Criley at the Univ of Hawaii in case it shows up in their groves. Excellent work!