Death's Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar from Spain

green/yellow thingy
Location: Andalucia
September 30, 2011 7:38 am
Hi, I found this on the floor near to a stream in La Hoz, Rute, Spain. Any ideas please
Signature: Tiddy

Death's Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Hi Tiddy,
This is the caterpillar of a Death’s Head Hawkmoth,
Acherontia atropos, the European member of a genus that contains two other Asian moths with the same common name.  The common name refers to the skull pattern on the thorax of the adult moth.  The Animal Pictures Archive website contains some interesting information, including:  “These moths have several unusual features. All three species have the ability to emit a loud squeak if irritated. The sound is produced by expelling air from the pharynx, often accompanied by flashing of the brightly-colored abdomen in a further attempt to deter predators. All three species are commonly observed raiding beehives of different species of honey bee for honey; A. atropos only attacks colonies of the well-known Western honey bee, Apis mellifera. They are able to move about in hives unmolested because they mimic the scent of the bees.”

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