Saturniid Caterpillar from Costa Rica: Automeris phrynon

Subject:  Stinging Catapillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Palo Verde National Park, Costa Rica
Date: 08/06/2018
Time: 06:22 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I took this photo in Palo Verde but I was once stung by the same type in Barra Honda National Park. This is a dry lowland Karst topography but I have seen this or a similar caterpillar at my home at 1600m altitude in Heredia, Costa Rica. Can you Identify it and the type of moth it becomes? Thank You
How you want your letter signed:  Richard Tandlich

Caterpillar of Automeris phrynon

Dear Richard,
This is a positively gorgeous image of a very beautiful caterpillar in the genus
Automeris.  We believe that based on images posted to the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site that it is Automeris phrynon, and the site states that the caterpillars have urticating or stinging spines and that the:  “Body spines are quite long and almost appear to be ‘back-combed’ with the tips of the spines slanted toward the head.”  The adult moth is pictured on Tradebit and on Saturniidae Universe.  We can contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can verify its identity, and he might request permission to post your image to his site as well.  Would you grant permission?

Bill Oehlke confirms:
Very nice photo,
I agree that it appears to be phrynon. Thanks for requesting permission to post. Let me know how that goes.

Dear Daniel,
Thanks for your reply, compliment and info. You have my permission to reprint this photo since it has already been exhibited and seen by the public. Believe it or not, it was show at the SEVENTH INTERNATIONAL BIENNIAL OF CONTEMPORARY TEXTILE ART, in Montevideo, Uruguay. My wife is a textile artist and since she was doing all the translation work for this big exhibit she talked me into submitting to the photography section something that was “textile”. So I thought “hairy caterpillars” or spider web.  I’m not a pro photographer but I do love taking photos of things that don’t run away very fast. Our world here in Costa Rica is full of bugs, and bites and stings are part of life. Every so often I see something incredible either at home or on a hike and just have to capture it.
Richard Tandlich

Leave a Comment