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Geometrid Caterpillar with Enlarged Thorax

23mm long | July 5, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This caterpillar has an interesting profile. I’ve seen caterpillars with enlarged thoracic segments, but I don’t recall ever seeing a geometrid like this. I assume this is a geometrid because it only has two pairs of prolegs.

Closeup of head and thorax

I was just about to publish this and I decided to look through my copy of Caterpillars of Eastern North America to see if I saw anything similar in the section on geometrids. This is not unlike the caterpillar of the Tulip-tree Beauty (Epimecis hortaria). I’ve never actually seen one of those, even though I often see the adults. Wagner says the odd proportions are distinctive for that species for North America. Perhaps this is a Brazilian species in that genus. read more

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Identification Challenge #13 Reveal: Spotted Apatelodes Proleg

Spotted Apatelodes Caterpillar | October 2, 2011 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

Did you guess that the caterpillar above was the critter featured in Identification Challenge #13? Both commenters for this challenge were on the right track, guessing that it was a caterpillar. Here’s the photo again from the challenge.

Proleg closeup

Here’s an even closer look at the proleg so I can point out a few interesting things.

Proleg showing crochets in two different sizes

All those little claws on the proleg are called crochets. This particular species, Apatelodes torrefacta, is one of just a handful of species in my area that belong to the family Bobycidae. The most famous member of that family is the domesticated silkworm moth. One feature of caterpillars in this family is that they have crochets of two different lengths, as shown above. read more

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Caterpillar

30mm | July 9, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I might not have noticed this caterpillar during the day, but after dark it stood out in the light of my headlamp.

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Doomed Caterpillar

25mm | July 9, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Despite its defenses, this caterpillars appears to have ended up with some parasite eggs, a tachinid fly perhaps.

Closer look at parasite eggs

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Hidden Caterpillars

10mm body | July 3, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Scanning the foliage, I spotted some overturned leaf fragments suspiciously resting on top of the leaves they’d been carved from. Lifting the first one up, I found it was concealing a small caterpillar.

Here’s a leaf fragment concealing another smaller caterpillar. That might be the egg the caterpillar hatched from at the top of the photo.

Overturned leaf fragment

And here the little inhabitant is revealed. Note the silk used to secure the leaf fragment in place. I like that it was careful to leave a small hinge. read more

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Parasitised Caterpillar

13mm | July 9, 2011 | Tupaciguara, Minas Gerais, Brazil

The more I observe nature, the more I realize that parasites rule.  So far this trip, I’ve accumulated dozens of photos to prove my point, including the one above.

Believe it or not, this caterpillar was still alive. The parasites, wasps presumably, are long gone.

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Prominent Caterpillar

22mm | January 20, 2011 | Armonia Nature Preserve, Limon Province, Costa Rica

This caterpillar looks enough like some of my local caterpillars that I can confidently say it’s a prominent moth larva. Its markings camouflage it well as it inserts itself into areas it has eaten.

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Crypsis Challenge #7 Reveal

January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Commenters had no trouble finding the cryptic critter circled above on a partially eaten leaf. No one figured out that it was a caterpillar though, and a rather bizarre one at that. Here’s a closer look.

It's a caterpillar

It does a pretty good job, I think, of blending in with the damaged areas of the other leaves. I suspect the brown leaf areas were damaged by an earlier instar that chews away at the surface of the leaf rather than eating the entire thing. It looks formidable and I didn’t risk touching it. Those black structures are unlike anything I’ve seen on a caterpillar. read more

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Attractive Caterpillar

January 28, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This caterpillar seems fairly distinctive, but I haven’t been able to find anything similar. The white bands are odd. I can’t decide if they are normal or evidence of an injury.

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Gold Moth Caterpillar on Wingstem

October 8, 2009 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

I found this caterpillar last fall. It was munching away on the flowers of what I believe to be wingstem. The plant was growing beside a walking trail at a forest edge.

Here are a couple of other views.

Head

Dorsal View

I’m basing the identification on similar photos of Basilodes pepita on BugGuide and in Wagner.

I like the bold colors. Wagner states that the combination of colors, behavior and foodplant suggest it might be unpalatable.

Reference:

Caterpillars of Eastern North Americaby David L. Wagner
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