Snake Mimic: Hemeroplanes triptolemus

Updated (07/02/2008) (10/15/2005) amazonian caterpillar
I spotted this beautiful caterpillar during a trip to the Mamirauá reserve in the Amazon rainforest. I understand there are a few species that present this snake mimicking behavior, but I haven’t found the right match for this one yet. Can you help? Thanks and congratulations on your website.
Mexico City

Hola Pablo,
Wow, your photo is awesome. Sadly we can’t identify this amazing mimic. Please update us if you ever identify it.

Hello Daniel,
I did some more research here and came across an amazing book on camouflage, mimetism and the like by Roger Caillois. The book’s name is Medusa and Company. He describes four species with similar behavior, of these only one lives in the Amazon, and the position this one adopts surely fits the description. The name is Leucorampha Ornatus (or ornata). I could only find a few pages on the web referring to this species, all in french or italian.
all the best

Update: (07/02/2008)
Snake Mimic- 10/15/2005 Amazonian caterpillar
I’ve been researching bugs for my library’s summer reading program, and your website has been very interesting to me! I’ve enjoyed seeing all the wonderful photos and even identifying some of the caterpillars in my area. I think I can identify the photo of the Amazonian caterpillar in fact, it is part of an upcoming story time! This looks like a Hemeroplanes triptolemus, which mimics a snake by rolling onto its back and “flaring” the area around the head to scare off would-be predators. There are several websites with good pictures of this caterpillar, as well as the moth it becomes (some type of Sphinx). Thanks for your wonderful website!

Hi Kim,
Thanks for the information. We checked and found images of the caterpillar and moth on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website. We beleive you are correct. The photo submitted to us three years ago looks even more snakelike than the ones on Bill Oehlke’s site.

1 thought on “Snake Mimic: Hemeroplanes triptolemus”

  1. Hola Pablo, te escribo porque estoy muy interesada en la foto que tomaste del “viper caterpillar”. Estoy haciendo una investigación y me gustaría saber si tienes mas fotos de este momento. Entiendo que fue hace mucho tiempo, pero tal vez tengas información adicional. Estoy buscando el nombre de la planta en la que se encuentra el animal. Si tienes mas fotos de este evento, te lo agradeceria. Andrea/


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