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Mystery Caterpillar


Long time readers might recall that, in the summer of 2008, I took a little trip.  They may also recall that I failed my attempt to blog said trip, due largely to the death of a close friend.  This means that there were quite a few things that happened on that trip which I never posted about, and a couple of days ago I woke up with one itching in my brain.  Specifically, this one:



Isn’t it gorgeous?  We ran into a lot of interesting insects on this trip -a stickbug the size of my forearm, mantids, locusts as big as my hand, something little and fluffy that looked more like a ball of lint than a bug, and of course the notrious siafu (a horde of which overran our camp one night and caused much pain and anguish), but this lovely beastie is one of my favorites.


At the end of the expedition, James and I spent a week or so on our own in Dar es Saalam.  For part of that week we headed less than 10km south of town, to Kipepeo Beach, where we met said beastie.  And when I say “met”, I mean “almost walked into as it dangled from a lowhanging branch”.





The leaf it is on is a very large leaf, and the caterpillar is thus huge: I remember it being at least as long as my hand, and quite fat.  It was big, it was bold, it was bright, it was beautiful… and I woke up a little while ago, years later, to the sudden realization that I STILL didn’t know what it was.


And I really, really, really want to know what it was.


That’s where the internet comes in.  No variation of “fuzzy green tanzanian caterpillar” gave me good google results, so I’m turning to the experts, and the power of crowdsourcing. I’ve asked What’s That Bug?, tweeted my question to the Butterfly Pavilion, and now I’m opening it up to you all: do we have any entomology nerds here, or anyone who knows any entomology nerds?  Does anyone have a clue what that glorious caterpillar turned itself into?


Whatever it is, I bet it’s awesome.  I mean, how could it not be, starting out as snazzy as that?


(I also bet it would make a good embroidery pattern. I think I have an embroidery pattern problem.)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Andrea permalink
    12/11/2010 1:20 PM

    I have no idea what it is, other than incredibly awesome. But I agree with you about embroidery pattern potential! And your photos are great!

    • 12/15/2010 7:58 AM

      No one seems to have any idea. I suppose I’ll just have to label the embroidery pattern Mystery Caterpillar. Alas!

  2. 01/23/2011 5:53 PM

    Great photos, and amazing caterpillar! My guess is it’s in the family Lymantriidae (the tussock moths)… I’ll pass this on to my advisor (he’s a caterpillar expert) and let you know what he thinks :)

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