Subject: Large caterpillar in Australia
Location: Sydney, Australia
December 5, 2013 5:17 pm
We came across this caterpillar today and were hoping you could identify. It was found on the outskirts of a lake north of Sydney in Australia. It was on a path at the time so not sure what it would feed on normally. It was 3 – 4 inches long and the head was the small orange end.
We would be really interested to know what you think
Signature: Jason & Jacki
Dear Jason and Jacki,
This is a very exciting posting for us. It is interesting that you noted that the orange end is the head on this Double Headed Hawkmoth Caterpillar, Coequosa triangularis, which we quickly identified on Butterfly House, which indicates: “Its real head is an orange conical structure, but on its tail are two large raised black knobs. These look like a pair of large eyes, so that an observer or predator finds it difficult to determine which end is actually the head, hence its common name.” The Double Headed Hawkmoth is in the family Sphingidae, the Sphinx Moths or Hawkmoths, and most caterpillars in this family are called Hornworms because of a prominent caudal horn. Your Double Headed Hawkmoth has evolved so that though the horn is absent, the caterpillar possesses a very convincing pair of fake eyes to confuse predators.
Many thanks for such a quick response. It is great to know what this amazing looking caterpillar was. Such a privilege to see
Jason & Jacki Barker