Owl Butterfly Caterpillar from Nicaragua forms Chrysalis

Subject: Mysterious Caterpillar
Location: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
July 5, 2012 8:20 pm
Hello bugman,
I found this Caterpillar near my pool today & I can’t figure out what it is.
Can you help?
Signature: PunkRockGirl

Owl Butterfly Caterpillar

Hi again PunkRockGirl,
We are making up for lost time.  We believe this is an Owl Butterfly Caterpillar from the genus
Caligo, and though we could not locate any matches for caterpillars with the markings on yours, there are numerous examples of Owl Butterfly Caterpillars online that have the horns on the head and the projections at the posterior end, hence our speculation.  This example from Insectenenzo of Caligo eurilochus and the Pacific Science Center Life Sciences website also has some nice images.  We are contacting Keith Wolfe to see if he can provide a species identification or a correction.

Wow!  I am so happy to get a response! I know you must be so busy!! so THANK YOU!

Keith Wolfe Responds
Greetings PRG and Daniel,
An Owl-Butterfly yes, but of the genus Opsiphanes rather than Caligo.  This is a prepupal Lowland Owlet (O. invirae), a fully developed caterpillar that has stopped feeding, emptied its gut, and is now searching for a safe place to pupate.  Here’s the same species from Brazil before onset of the “faded” coloration and imminent transformation that follows —
Best wishes,

Subject: Owl Butterfly Caterpillar update!
Location: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
July 11, 2012 5:08 pm
Dear Bugman,
I am so happy to tell you that I have stumbled across the cocoon of the Owl Butterfly Caterpillar I found last week. It was a mere 1m from the spot where I released it… I will keep it & hopefully be lucky enough to see the butterfly coming out!
Signature: PunkRockGirl

Owl Butterfly Chrysalis

How awesome is that??? We hope you are lucky enough to photograph the eclosion and send us photos.

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