Limacodidae

The caterpillars in this family are short, fleshy, and appear somewhat like a slug. The thoracic legs are small and there are no prolegs on the abdominal segments; they move with a slow, creeping motion. Adults have a wing span of about 35 mm, and have a large and hairy body. Pupation occurs in oval, silken cocoons spun between leaves or attached to twigs. The cocoon is egg-shaped or nearly spherical, and often covered with urticating (poisonous or stinging) hairs; the cocoon has a hole covered by a cap at one end through which the adult emerges. Caterpillars of many species are unusually shaped, and distinctly marked. They have urticating hairs on the body; many caterpillars have body protrusions (scoli) with sharp spines, and often with urticating properties. Immatures of Setora nitens are nettle caterpillars, and feed on palms, tea, and coffee in southeastern Asia. Other limacodid caterpillars are sluglike and have reduced legs and a smooth body; they are called slug caterpillars or jelly grubs. These include Thosea, which feed on herbaceous and woody shrubs in Africa and tropical regions of Asia, and Cheromettia, which are polyphagous on plants in southeastern Asia. Caterpillars of Niphadolepis are the most common jelly grubs on coffee and tea in East Africa.

Saddleback caterpillar, Acharia stimulea (= Sibine) (Fig. 11.3a) Adult wing span is about 30 mm, and the wings are dark, velvety, reddish brown, with two white spots near the apex of the front wings. Full-grown caterpillars are about 25 mm long, and brown with a light-green patch over the back, and a purplish-brown spot in the middle. The body has along the sides several distinct tubercles (scoli) with urticating hairs, and there is a pair of spiny tubercles bearing poisonous hairs at each end. Caterpillars feed on a variety of ornamental trees and shrubs, but also agricultural crops, such as maize. Eggs are laid on the underside of leaves. Early-stage caterpillars feed on the lower leaf epidermis, while late-stage caterpillars consume the entire leaf. Development is completed in late summer, and pupation occurs in secluded sites on the ground or leaf litter. The cocoon is smooth and ovoid, and contains some of the urticating hairs of the caterpillars. Pupae or prepupae overwinter and adults emerge in June and July. Distribution is in eastern and southern USA.

Figure 11.3 Lepidoptera: Limacocidae, Megalopygidae. (a) Acharia stimulea; (b) Euclea delphinii; (c) Phobetron pithecium; (d) Megalopyge opercularis.

Oriental moth, Cnidocampa flavescens (= Monema) Adult wing span is 30-42 mm, and the body is yellowish brown. Full-grown caterpillars are about 22 mm long, and marked with yellow, blue, green, and purple. Caterpillars have tubercles with urticating hairs and setae along the outer edge of the body. This species feeds on a wide variety of trees, and is distributed in the USA.

Spiny oak-slug, Euclea delphinii (Fig. 11.3b) Adult wing span is about 28 mm, and the body is light brown with a variable number of bright-green spots on the fore wings. Full-grown caterpillars are about 20 mm long, and have large tubercles (scoli) bearing urticating setae and hairs on the perimeter and dorsum of the body. It feeds on oak, pear, willow, and other trees. Distribution is in eastern and southern USA.

Asian slug moth, blue-striped nettle grub, Latoia lepida (= Parasa) Adult wing span is 30-35 mm. Front wings are green, with a basal brown patch, and the hind wings are pale brown. Full-grown caterpillars are about 25 mm long and the body is green with blue longitudinal stripes, and flattened; the legs are indistinct. It has fleshy protuberences (scoli), each with spines. The spines on the scoli are urticating. Eggs are laid in batches of20-30 on the underside ofleaves ofa variety ofcrop and ornamental plants. Development requires about 40 days, and pupation is in a round, hard cocoon on the bark of a tree or shrub. The pupal period is about 2i days. This species occurs in southeastern Asia, and in regions of East and West Africa. Related species include Parasa hilarata, P. vivida,andP. latistriga. The caterpillars of these species are similar in appearance to L. lepida and have urticating setae.

Coffee jelly grub, Niphadolepis alianta Adult wing span is about 40 mm. The body is yellowish brown and there are three or four dark brown patches on the frontwings; the hind wings are uniformly yellowish white to pale brown. Full-grown caterpillars are about 35 mm long; the body is somewhat rounded oval, humped and without distinctfeatures. This species occurs on coffee and tea in East Africa. The caterpillars have urticating qualities, and they are a threat to agricultural workers.

Green slug moth, Parasa chloris Adult wing span is 20-25 mm and the body is brown; the frontwings are without a dark patch in the center. The caterpillar is bright purple, with four bluish-black lines along the back, with yellow tubercles (scoli) along both sides, and at the anterior and posterior ends. The cocoon is dark brown and egg-shaped, with a smooth surface. Adults emerge in June. This species occurs in northeastern and southeastern USA.

Stinging rose caterpillar, Parasa indetermina Adult wing span is 20-25 mm; the head and thorax are green above, and brown beneath. The frontwings are green with a brown patch at the base and with a brown, irregular border. The caterpillar body is red or yellow, purple, and white. There are stinging spines on the second, fifth, and last segment ofabdomen. This species occurs in north- and southeastern USA.

Hag moth, Phobetron pithecium (Fig. 11.3c) Adult wing span is about 20 mm. The body of the female is brown, and marked with yellow; the male is uniformly brown. Full-grown caterpillars are about 10 mm long, and have nine pairs of brown, lateral processes; the third, fifth, and seventh are the longest, curved and twisted, and are suggestive of the disheveled hair of a hag (witch). These processes bear stinging or urticating hairs. The thoracic legs are small, and on the ventral surface of the abdomen there is a series of disks, which serve as prolegs for locomotion. Caterpillars are general feeders and are found on the leaves of a variety of trees and shrubs. The cocoon is spherical, and has the tubercles and stinging hairs of the immature stages attached. Cocoons are attached to leaves and exposed. This species occurs in eastern and southern USA.

scopelodes nitens Adult wing span is about 30 mm, and the front wings are light brown and have one dark spot medially. Hind wings are yellow; the thorax is yellowish brown, and the abdomen is pale yellow. The apical segment of the labial palp is very long, and is expanded at the tip with long scales. This species occurs in Australia: Banks Island in Torres Strait, and at Iron Range, Cape York peninsula. The caterpillars defoliate cashew nut trees and have stinging hairs. A closely related species, S. contracta, occurs in Japan.

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