Death’s Head Hawkmoth: Caterpillar parasitised.

on 20th June 2016

1 Death'sHeadHMoth-cat [JaniceAng] 1

“On 26th May 2016, we found a 4th instar Death’s Head Hawkmoth (Acherontia styx medusa) caterpillar feeding on Blue Snakeweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) in the Butterfly Garden at Seletar Country Club (above, below).

3 Death'sHeadHMoth-cat [JaniceAng] c4 Death'sHeadHMoth-cat [JaniceAng] d

“The following day we noticed ‘pimples’ appearing on the caterpillar, indicating that it will change instar. A day later a new instar appeared and the caterpillar was feeding normally.

4 Death'sHeadHMoth-cat-parasitised [JaniceAng]

“On 2nd June the caterpillar turned brown. It turned upside down and became darker brown. It was searching for a place to pupate (above).

5 Death'sHead HMoth-parasitised [JaniceAng]

“A day later a dark spot appeared on its body and this dark spot spread within the hours (above).

6 Death'sHeadHMoth-cat-parasitised 040616 [JaniceAng]

“On 4th June the caterpillar had turned all black and maggots of parasitic Tachinidae flies exited the caterpillar’s body (above and videos below).

”By the next day a total of 21 maggots (8×3 mm) had turned into pupae. The pupae were of the same colour as the maggots but soon turned orange-red

7 Death'sHeadHMoth-parasite-pupa  [JaniceAng]

“…then dark brown (below).

8 Death'sHeadHMoth-cat-parasite-pupa [JaniceAng]

“The video below shows the pupae being collected for further observations – apologies for the poor quality as it was taken with the container cover intact to ensure the flies do not escape.

“Images of the Tachinidae fly are shown below.


Foo Jit Leang & Janice Ang
Seletar Country Club’s Butterfly Garden
4th June 2016

Note: All images and videos by Janice Ang.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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