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Cluster Caterpillar (Last instar)

Spodoptera litura


Black caterpillar with gray belly and three yellowish stripes along its back. About 3cm in length. Possibly the last instar of the cluster caterpillar. Spodoptera litura (Fabricius, 1775). Eggs are laid in an irregular furry mass on the underside of a leaf of a foodplant by the night-flying moth in clusters of up to 300 and are covered with a mat of grey-brown hairs from the body of the female. Young larvae are gregarious (hence the name Cluster Caterpillar) and feed on the lower leaf surface, causing a window effect. Initially, the young larvae are translucent green with black thorax and heads. The young caterpillars are smooth-skinned with a pattern of red, yellow, and green lines, and with a dark patch on the mesothorax. They initially only eat the flesh of their food leaves, leaving the veins intact. Later, as they grow, they eat whole leaves, and even flowers and fruit. They become brown with three thin yellow lines down the back: one in the middle and one each side. A row of black dots run along each side, and a conspicuous row of dark triangles decorate each side of the back. Older larvae are solitary and have conspicuous black triangles in a line along each side of the body. The last instar is very dark, with four prominent yellow triangles on the mesothorax. When disturbed, the caterpillar curls into a tight spiral withe the head protected in the center. Mature larvae pupate in the soil.


Spotted on a Zinnia flower in the garden, in Biñan Laguna, Philippines.



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Ashish Nimkar
Ashish Nimkar 11 years ago

Some Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars also seen in this type.

Ashish Nimkar
Ashish Nimkar 11 years ago

I assume this is a Hawk Moth Caterpillars as per design seen. What is length of cat...?

Laguna, Philippines

Spotted on Aug 31, 2012
Submitted on Oct 11, 2012

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