April 4, 2011 2:01 pm
A friend of mine on Facebook snapped this picture of a caterpillar in Mexico. We would appreciate its identification.
We believe this is a Tussock Moth Caterpillar, but we do not recognize the species.
Thank you! I looked again and it was more likely taken in Guatemala, not Mexico.
Correction Courtesy of Karl
Hi Daniel and Mark:
It does look a lot like a Tussock Moth, but it is actually a ‘Wasp Moth’, Eucereon latifascia, which ranges from Guatemala to Amazonia. I have to confess that I find the current taxonomy of this group very confusing. The Wasp Moths used to be classified as a subfamily of the Tiger Moth family (Arctiidae: Ctenuchinae), which included several tribes. Several classifications are currently in use, but there seems to be a developing consensus that Tiger Moths and Wasp Moths have been demoted and placed within the family Erebidae (Erebidae: Arctiinae: Ctenuchiini). According to the Bugguide the Ctenuchines are now relegated to subtribe status within the tribe Arctiini. Hopefully it will all sort itself out some day. In any event, the Ctenuchines are often referred to as Wasp Moths because as adults many of them mimic wasps or other menacing insects, but E. latifascia, not so much. Regards. Karl
Thanks for providing this correction Karl. There is some degree of difficulty when using common names to describe insects and other creatures. To add to the confusion, some of the Arctiids have caterpillars known as Tussock Moths that are distinctly different from the Tussock Moths in the subfamily Lymantriinae, also in the family Erebidae. One example is the Milkweed Tussock Moth from North America that is profiled on BugGuide.