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Slug Moth Caterpillar

Euclea zygia

Description:

A Caterpillar I haven't seen before, 2 cm in length, lime green with a bright pink stripe bordered in dark blue running down the length of the back. It has a wicked collection of spine tufts, green and tipped in black. The head end is kept tucked out of sight with the mouthparts underneath the two green fleshy flaps seen in the first picture. The back end has 4 black cone-like protrusions in addition to the spine tufts (picture 4). Most slug caterpillars are poisonous and this one probably is as well. I brought it home to try to get it to pupate. Family Limacodidae. Update: the larva pupated on 2Nov18. Thank you to Marc Epstein of iNaturalist for the identification. See: https://www.facebook.com/US.NSF/photos/t...

Habitat:

Found on a low palm-like plant, semi-rural residential area, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, 2,200 meters. The palm may be where it intended to pupate and not its host plant, since there was no sign of any feeding marks on any of the fronds.

Notes:

This is the first Slug Caterpillar that I've been able to examine. I put it on a piece of glass to watch it from the underside. The head capsule (last picture) can only be seen from below and is elaborate, as to be expected since it is its feeding device. It can be completely enclosed by the fleshy flaps when threatened. All of the prolegs are reduced, pushed to the sides and apparently not used. It moves with a ripple effect, which begins at the tail and slowly moves forward, moving the front ahead by the size of the ripple. In the 5th picture of the underside, the ripple has just reached the true legs. It seems to hold onto the surface with suction. The true legs are also reduced, especially the 2nd and 3rd pair, but all three are still segmented and have claws (last picture). According to Marc Epstein, a Limacodid specialist, the black spots on the posterior end of the larva in the photo are deciduous spine patches called caltrops. They can become lodged in the silk of the cocoon or in your skin if you aren't careful and can be very itchy. The larva is moving around quite a bit, not eating, and hopefully is preparing to pupate.

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1 Comment

That's a cool caterpillar!

LaurenZarate
Spotted by
LaurenZarate

San Cristóbal, Chiapas, Mexico

Spotted on Oct 27, 2018
Submitted on Oct 29, 2018

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