Unknown Panamanian Caterpillar on Cashew Tree is Megalopyge lanata

Panama caterpillar
This beautiful creature was photographed at Coiba National Preserve in Panama, December 11, 2007, feasting on the leaves of a cashew tree. I’ve been searching the web for two days and have had no luck identifying it, except that it’s probably of the Arctiidae family. Can you help?
Amy Lowell
White Lake, MI

Hi Amy,
We cannot currently help you with an identification, but we will post your image in the hopes that our readership can assist. Identification of many tropical species can prove very frustrating.

Update: (04/07/2008)
Thanks Dan. The caterpillar is Megalopyge lanata. The following information is courtesy of Annette Aiello: “The caterpillar is a clear case of Megalopyge lanata (Megalopygidae). Perhaps the unnatural perspective (the photo appears to have been taken in portrait view and later rotated to horizontal) made it look to you as if there were more than the usual red verrucae. As well, I suspect that the caterpillar had molted very recently and perhaps had not yet eaten very much, so still was somewhat condensed.” If you’ve posted the photo already, you can add its identification. I appreciate your help very much
Amy Lowell

Thanks for the update Amy. We found images of the adult Megalopyge lanata after you provided us with a name. We also located a caterpillar image on a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Photo of the Week website. The caterpillar has stinging hairs.

Leave a Comment