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Photo#52250
Bright green caterpillar - Pachylia ficus

Bright green caterpillar - Pachylia ficus
Boca Raton, West Palm Beach County, Florida, USA
May 14, 2006
Size: About 3 inches long
I have not been able to find an exact match and was hoping for some help. I found this specimen yesteday munching on the leaves of my mango tree. It was mimicing a leaf and blended in quite well.
Thanks.

Images of this individual: tag all
Bright green caterpillar - Pachylia ficus Bright green caterpillar (now orange backed) - Pachylia ficus Bright green caterpillar (now orange backed) - Pachylia ficus Pupa opened! (Pachylia ficus Fig Sphinx) - Pachylia ficus Top View, drying wings (Fig Sphinx) - Pachylia ficus Side View (Fig Sphinx) - Pachylia ficus

 
I doubt you have this exact caterpillar
as it is known only in Florida and Texas. However, there are several other hornworms that you might have found in your area. Try browsing this section for some possibilities. If you know what it was eating, that can also be very helpful for ID.

 
Please post an image of your caterpillar
a fig sphinx in Iowa would be very surprising. If you post an image to ID Request you'll be able to get either confirmation or an alternate ID.

I don't know what it is but I
I don't know what it is but I found one on my chile pepper plant. For about 2 weeks I kept find these weird shaped little things in and around the pot. Today I was looking at the plant again and there it was eating one of my peppers, it had been eating quite a few of them to my dismay. I'm looking for as much information on this thing as I can.

 
Sounds like one of the hornworms
check genus Manduca (use the search box and scroll down) for possible matches

Looks like a sphingid moth of some kind
- in which case it will have a horn on the rear end - not quite in focus here, but did you see one?

I haven't found any refence to one eating mango, yet, though.

Sphinx caterpillars are in this section of the guide.

 
Nope. no horney rear.
Nope. no horney rear.

 
Still looks sphinx-like to me
but I can't find a match - the oddest thing is that diagonal stripes that slant towards the head are the opposite of the stripes we usually see slanting towards the tail on sphingids. The Pandorus sphinx sheds its horn in the final instar - I wonder if this is another species that does the same.
Another interesting fact is that the Hosts database here doesn't list anything this big hosting on Mangifera (mango) in the USA
Judging by the size, this must be close to full-grown. Any chance you can rear it to adulthood? It would be interesting to get a definitive ID.

 
I placed the specimen in a te
I placed the specimen in a terrarium with plenty of leaves for it to munch on. It has gon through 3 so far since my first post here. I will try to keep it until after it emerges from it's cocoon.

Some other tidbits...it is very strong and was hard to pick off the branch. It spit up a greenish juice when I did so and I'd swear hissed at me too. It excretes little bumpy black pellets and seem to be most active at night, staying imobile for a good part of the day. As the photo shows, it's rear end tapers to a point, and looking at it's back it almost looks like the shape of a praying mantis' abdomen...at least that is what I am reminded of. Yes, it has odd diagonal stripes across its side spots. Sphinx moth does see to be the closest match right now.

 
Good luck!
Sounds like you're doing everything right, but I have an article on this site if you want any more info on raising caterpillars - see here.

 
I posted an updated photo Han
I posted an updated photo Hannah...does this help at all with identifying it?

 
It doesn't help me
- I still can't find a match in Wagner(1), which is our best reference at present. But I'm glad it's still living - fingers crossed for a nice clean adult that will be easier to identify!

 
Update
Just letting you know it hatched from the chrystallis Hannah! =]
Check the photo section for the Pachylia ficus Fig Sphinx Moth.

 
Saw it
- and linked it. Very nice series!

 
Thanks Hannah, I'll go take a
Thanks Hannah, I'll go take a look.

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