Subject: Giant blue spiked Caterpillar
Location: Central Portugal
July 9, 2017 4:59 am
I found this big guy in front of my house,
The Caterpillar is about 10cm long, and has tiny hairs on top of blue bumps that are on his green/brown body.
I found him on a hot day at the beginning of summer, it were about 38°C outside, so I carefully took him to a shadow and took these pictures.
I live in central Portugal.
Many caterpillars change color just before pupation, and this prepupal Great Peacock Moth, Saturnia pyri, is no exception. It began life as a green caterpillar and now that it is ready to spin a cocoon and pupate, it has changed to an orange color. Here is an Alamy image that depicts a prepupal Great Peacock Moth caterpillar. Alamy also has a nice image depicting the entire life cycle of the Great Peacock Moth. The green coloration is depicted on UK Moths where it states: “Europe’s largest moth, although not British, has been found on one occasion, in Hampshire in 1984. However, being such a spectacular species, it is a favourite amongst livestock breeders, and is unlikely to occur here in the wild. Abroad, the distribution ranges from southern Europe through Africa and the Middle East. The adults fly from April to June and are easily attracted to light. The impressive caterpillars feed on the foliage of a range of foodplants, primarily fruit trees.” Saturniidae of the Western Palaearctic has a nice comprehensive description of the Great Peacock Moth that includes this fascinating bit of information: “Larger larvae are capable of ‘chirping’. These ‘chirps’ are broadband, with dominant peaks ranging between the sonic (3.7 kHz) and ultrasonic (55.1 kHz) and are generated by a rapid succession of mandibular ‘tooth strikes’. Chirp trains are induced by simulated predator attacks and precede or accompany the secretion of a defensive chemical from integumental bristles, supporting the hypothesis that these sounds function in acoustic aposematism. It has been proposed that these caterpillars generate multimodal warning signals (visual, chemical, and acoustic) to target the dominant sensory modalities of different predators, including birds, bats, and invertebrates (Bura, Fleming & Yack, 2009).” Finally, this Portuguese blog Natureza em Directo Borboletas has some nice images of the adult Great Peacock Moth.