Sphinx Caterpillar, possibly Pachylia darceta Caterpillar

Subject: Caterpillar from Brazil
Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil
February 19, 2013 5:19 am
Hi Bugman! I found this caterpillar in Sao Paulo. I think, it’s Sphingidae caterpillar. I tried to ID it, but didn’t find anything similar.
Maybe you know, what is it?
Signature: Janet

Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Janet,
We agree that this is a Sphinx Caterpillar.  It looks very similar to the caterpillar of the Fig Sphinx, Pachylia ficus, but even though that is a variably colored caterpillar, the bright turquoise stripe on your caterpillar is something we haven’t seen on Pachylia ficus.  So, even though it is similar, there are enough differences for us to suspect this might be a different species in the same genus.  There are three members of the genus Pachylia listed in Brazil on the Sphingidae of the Americas website, and the Pachylia darceta page does not include a photo of the caterpillar, so that is a possibility.  We will contact Bill Oehlke to see if we can get his opinion.  He might ask permission to reproduce your photo on his website as well.  The description of the caterpillar on the Learn About Butterflies, Moths of the Andes pages is:  “The caterpillars of Pachylia species feed on Ficus or Artocarpus ( Moraceae ). They are described by d’Abrera ( Sphingidae Mundi, 1986 ) as being ‘variable in many colours, being blue, yellow, orange, green or grey-brown; 7 to 8 pairs of oblique lateral bands – but these running in the opposite direction to those on larvae of the subfamily Sphinginae’.”

Identification Request sent to Bill Oehlke
Hi Bill,
This caterpillar looks like
Pachylia ficus, but different enough for me to suspect it might be Pachylia darceta which is not pictured on your site.  Any thoughts?

Hi Daniel,
I agree with your assessment, probably ficus, but could be one of the other members of Pachylia genus.

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