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Snake Caterpillar?

Posted on Feb 13, 2016

While transferring photographs from my recent Panama trip onto my computer, another quick pick jumped out at me. This large caterpillar was found by Dave Huth on our first night in Cocobolo Nature Reserve and the longer I watched it, the more its resemblance to a snake blew me away. The indication of scales in just the right places, spots suggesting nostrils, even the white ‘catchlight’ in its fake eyes…and it moves in just the right ways too! I know my Central American snakes pretty well, but even a cursory glance at this caterpillar tripped all sorts of alarm bells in my brain. I’m sure this guy’s amazing mimicry has convinced many a potential predator to reconsider their dinner options. I assume that this is a caterpillar of some type of hawk moth but would love to hear suggestions about its identity…

Caterpillar snake

Twan Leenders
RTPI President