Colobura annulata Caterpillars from Costa Rica

Subject: Another Costa Rican Caterpillar
Location: Tortuguero, Costa Rica
January 1, 2015 5:55 pm
Hi Bugman,
This caterpillar was found near Tortuguero on the northern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Any ideas what species it is?
Signature: Jon

Silkmoth Caterpillars
Colobura annulata Caterpillars

Dear Jon,
We believe these caterpillars are in the subfamily Hemileucinae, and we even located a matching image from Panama on Monga Bay, but it is not identified.
  We are going to contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can provide an identification.

Silkmoth Caterpillars
Colobura annulata Caterpillars

Not sure, but I think they may be butterfly larvae in Nymphalidae family. Elongated scoli from head lead me to that suspicion.

Thanks for the tip Bill.  We quickly located an image of Colobura annulata on FlickR that was identified by butterfly expert Keith Wolfe that is a perfect match.  Butterflies of America has images of both caterpillar and adult.  According to Butterflies of Amazonia:  “The eggs are white and laid in groups of between 2-10 on leaves of the foodplant. The young larvae feed on Cecropia leaves and make ‘frass chains’ i.e. chains of droppings linked together by strands of silk, which protrude from the edges of the leaves. When not feeding they rest on these frass chains, which provide them with a defence against marauding ants. For reasons that are not fully understood, ants seem unwilling to walk over frass chains. The fully grown larvae are velvety black and adorned with white rosetted spines along the back, and yellow spines along the sides. They live and feed gregariously in groups of between 5 and 20. When feeding they bite through the stems, causing alleochemics ( anti-herbivore juices ) to bleed from the plant, stopping it from mobilising chemicals into the area being eaten.”  The images of the Cecropia Tree on Academic Evergreen look very much like the leaves upon which your caterpillars are feeding.

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