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Photo#326515
unknown caterpillar with parasites - Sphinx kalmiae

unknown caterpillar with parasites - Sphinx kalmiae
Savannah, Andrew County, Missouri, USA
August 29, 2009
Size: 1 1/4 inches
This little caterpillar was found feeding on our lilac bush. It is covered in some kind of parasitic wasp eggs. I have been unable to ID the caterpillar. I believe it to be an early instar of a sphinx or silk moth. Does anyone have any ideas?

Parasitic wasps
Can you submit a close up of the cocoons and place it under Parasitica? It is probably Cotesia or something related and it would be very nice to have more images of these parasitoids.
A link to this image, the host, would be helpful.

 
Sure I would be happy to do t
Sure I would be happy to do that, in fact I think it is a great idea.

Moved
Moved from Sphinx Moths.

Sphinx kalmiae
This is a laurel sphinx middle instar caterpillar. The species seems to favor lilac over ash and is the sphinx I encounter most on lilac (up New England anyways). Only final instar caterpillars develop the black face lines, black spots on the prolegs, and blue granular horn. Other than host plant and general look, the ID is confirmed by the white yellow and black diagonal stripes along the abdomen - a coloration not seen on any of our other sphinx.

 
Thank u so much for the ID. I
Thank u so much for the ID. I have been very curious about this unfortunate little fellow since I found him. I have not ever heard of Laurel sphinx moths, much less knew we had them in NW Missouri.

Moved
Moved from Moths.

Moved
Moved from ID Request.

Sphinx Caterpillars On Lilac
Here is a query that brings up a list of all sphinx moth caterpillars reported to feed on lilac on the HOSTS Hostplants and Caterpillars Database at the Natural History Museum in London.

im amazed its still alive. ma
im amazed its still alive. maybe there are more still in it. poor thing.

 
I felt sorry for it too. Moth
I felt sorry for it too. Mother Nature can sure be cruel. In a completely morbid way though this was fascinating, it is the first time I've ever seen this scenario play out.

Definitely a sphinx
Someone may be able to tell you which one. The parasitoids have emerged from the caterpillar as larvae and spun their cocoons. It looks like they have finished pupating and have already emerged as adults, since the cocoons appear empty. The caterpillar was still feeding!!?

 
Not certain it was feeding as
Not certain it was feeding as I didn't actually witness it eating, there were just eaten leaves near where I found it, so made the assumption it had been feeding. It really didn't seem unusually distressed considering the obvious infestation.

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