Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

Is this a swallowtail caterpillar?
Location: Riviera Nayarit (Puerto Vallarta)
December 4, 2011 4:27 pm
Hi there, we were in the Riviera Nayarit (Puerto Vallarta area)late November and one evening as we left the resort bar we came across this bug. I’ve been looking around and I think it’s a swallowtail, but it’s also more gross than any of the swallowtails I’ve seen in pictures so far. Could it be that the caterpillar is in late pupa stages? Is it even a swallowtail? Any help you can give would be appreciated.
Signature: Michelle Gessner

Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

Hi Michelle,
This might be a Swallowtail Caterpillar, but some Sphinx Moth Caterpillars also have eyespots.  Sadly, your photo does not show the anterior end where a caudal horn is found on most Sphinx Caterpillars.  Hopefully we will have time in the future to allot to trying to determine a species identity.

Update courtesy of Karl
Hi Daniel and Michelle:
I think your second hunch is probably correct. It looks like a Sphinx caterpillar in the genus Madoryx (Sphingidae: Macroglossinae). It looks very similar to the pre-pupal M. plutonius specimens on the Area de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG) site. This species apparently doesn’t occur as far north as Mexico but a subspecies, M. plutonius dentatus, lives in Mexico and Belize. And yes, this appears to be one of those hornless varieties of Sphinx caterpillars. Regards. Karl

Hi Karl,
Thanks for taking the time to do this bit of sleuthing.

4 thoughts on “Sphinx Moth Caterpillar”

  1. Looks like a larva from the Sphingidae genus Madoryx. Bill Oehlke has three species/subspecies listed for Mexico.

    I am unsure which species this is, I would ask Bill for a species ID.

  2. Thanks, everyone! I saw the link that Karl put up and that is definitely our bug!! I can’t wait to tell everyone what we found!!


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