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2078 Views 8 Replies Last post: Sep 19, 2011 10:02 PM by Lewis RSS
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Sep 18, 2011 10:25 PM

Can you help ID this Caterpillar?

A pair of these caterpillars have taken a liking to the Jasmin in our front garden.I was surprised how big it is. From a brief look on the internet it looks like a hawk moth caterpillar of some type. Please could help me identify it and is it native to the uk?
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    Sep 18, 2011 10:41 PM (in response to MS1)
    Re: Can you help ID this Caterpillar?

    Hello there.

    To me this looks rather like the wonderful Deaths Head Hawk Moth Caterpillar Acherontia atropos the largest hawk moth found in the UK. Certainly worth loosing the Jasmin over, although I belive they prefer potato plants. http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?bf=1973&map=true. I am so jealous.

    Lewis

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 19, 2011 9:42 AM (in response to MS1)
    Re: Can you help ID this Caterpillar?

    Sure is the Deaths Head Hawk-moth - can you email me at sjh@nhm.ac.ukwith details of the locality, your name, date etc. and I will pass this interesting record on to the lepidoptera recording scheme.

     

    Although this impressive moth is a known, though occasional migrant, to the UK there has been a lot of captive breeding of this species in the UK with inevitable releases of adults. Still a superb find though and no way of telling if these are the progeny of a natural migrant or released UK bred stock.

     

    Along with Lewis I am also quite jealous.

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    • Would it be worth considering netting the plant to lessen the chances of Ichneumon attack as they are so uncommon?
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      • Currently Being Moderated
        Sep 19, 2011 11:41 AM (in response to Lewis)
        Re: Can you help ID this Caterpillar?

        But you may exclude a phenomenally rare ichneumonid or other parasite.

         

        A case in point - a good friend of mine came across Goat Moth larva, a nice find, and took it home to rear through. Almost a year later instead of an impressive goat moth two spiky tachinid flies emerged from the pupa. Now these flies, which as a group are parasitoids of other insects, are specific parasitoids of the Goat Moth and turn out to be only the second time that this species of fly has been found in the UK. The only other specimens known are 1 ex here in the NHM collections and 2 ex in the Oxford collections.

         

        Caterpillars have flies upon their backs to bite 'em and rarer caterpillars have rarer flies and so ad infinitum .. 

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        • Of course you are right.  It is just that as a child I remember the effort in feeding and gloating over a giant brood of  Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillars and after they had pupated looking at the row of fat glossy chrysalis and one day being horrified to find a neat escape hole drilled in every one and a cloud of tiny Ichnumom wasps in the vivarium.. Rather turned me against our useful parasitic friends at a very formative age.
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            Sep 19, 2011 3:25 PM (in response to Lewis)
            Re: Can you help ID this Caterpillar?
            I have shared your disappointment Lewis - when I reared a shed load (literally, as my mum wouldn't allow them in the house) of caterpillars I loathed those spiky flies and parasitic wasps that so often emerged instead of the beautiful 'imagines' I had been expecting. All things said and done I now see these parasitoids as arguably more interesting. 
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      • Currently Being Moderated
        Sep 19, 2011 10:02 PM (in response to MS1)
        Re: Can you help ID this Caterpillar?

        'It rubs the lotion on it's skin'. Yup the Deathshead Hawkmoth played quite a pivotal role in The Silence of the Lambs, although this was the Asian version Acherontia styx. There is plenty of general information available on the web on this great moth. How big are the caterpillars at the moment?

        Lewis

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