Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Subject: Unidentified Caterpillar
Location: South Africa
April 15, 2015 1:19 am
Hello Bugman,
I found this Caterpillar on my Cape Goose Berry plant. I live in South Africa and we are now in very late Autumn. What type of caterpillar is this? Is it harmful to my plants? Does it turn into an endangered butterfly or moth after metamorphosis? Should I get rid of it or is it harmless?
Many thanks,
Signature: Andrea Joubert

Death's Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar
Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Andrea,
This is a Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar and it will eventually metamorphose into a Death’s Head
Hawkmoth, Acherontia atropos, a species most recognizable because it was used to illustrate the blockbuster movie poster for Silence of the Lambs.  The moth is not endangered.  A single caterpillar on a plant will eat the leaves, which does not permanently damage the plant unless it is very young or otherwise compromised.  A healthy plant will resprout leaves.

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