Spiny Hornworm Caterpillar from South Africa: Lophostethus dumolinii

Green caterpillar south africa
Location: Mpumalanga, South Africa
January 29, 2011 7:14 am
We found this green caterpillar on our tree outside. It is approx. 100mm long x 25mm thick. ictures are with a large bic lighter to illustrate size. We would really like to know what kind of caterpillar it is.
Signature: Green caterpillar

Spined Hornworm from South Africa

Dear Green caterpillar,
We have not had any luck identifying your caterpillar on the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site.  Though we are confident that this is a Silkmoth Caterpillar in the family Saturniidae, the species identification is proving elusive

We hope that our email to Bill Oehlke will provide an identification.  Can you provide the name of the tree upon which this caterpillar was discovered?

Bill Oehlke provides a surprising revelation
I think it is not one of the Saturniidae. I remember being very surprised one time to learn that some of the South African Sphingidae have spines. I am pretty sure it is one of the Sphingidae, but I cannot remember which one.
Bill Oehlke

Ed. Note: We will begin searching this new possibility.

Bill Oehlke finds the ID
Hi Daniel,
The larva is one of the Sphingidae. It is Lophostethus dumolinii. Can you get me a larger image of the larva and the photographer’s email
Bill Oehlke

Thanks so much Bill.  We can provide you with the contact information of the person who submitted the images.  They may have higher resolution files, but we do not.

Ed. Note: We have not had any luck finding images of the caterpillar online, but Biodiversity Explorer identifies Lophostethus umolinii as the Arrow Sphinx Hawkmoth and has an image of the adult moth.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for all the trouble you have gone to to find the species of the caterpillar I really appreciate it. Attached are larger images of the caterpillar as found in the tree. I am not too sure what the tree is but will try to look it up in the indigenous south African directory as it is an indigenous plant.  I had to move it to another tree as it was near our animals which would disturb it – I have just checked and it has made a home in the new tree and looks like it is getting ready to cocoon (if that is what you call it). Hopefully I can follow its progress and we can see the end result.

Arrow Sphinx

Hi again Jeni,
Thanks so much for sending the higher resolution images of the Arrow Sphinx.  By clicking on the images to enlarge them, our readership can compare the difference in quality.  The caudal horn is much more apparent in these higher resolution images.

2 thoughts on “Spiny Hornworm Caterpillar from South Africa: Lophostethus dumolinii”

  1. We just found one in our yard and we are in mississippi and it’s way larger and has more spikes on him. Are they dangerous


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