Exotic (looking) Caterpillars in Singapore

30 July 2011
Caterpillars to many, are simply plain green or black little worms. However, they do come in all shapes and sizes, with exotic or even majestic looks.

I chanced upon a Death’s Head Hawk Moth caterpillar (Acherontia atropos), about 2 inches long and dangling from a leaf at night. With its bright yellow surface, I tried 3 different lighting methods to illuminate the background.

Which do you prefer? 🙂

Death’s Head Hawk Moth larva (Acherontia atropos) - DSC_0725#1 First shot with full flash, leaving the distant background black as it was night time. Highest contrast and clarity, but some may argue whether its natural or taken to a studio?

Death’s Head Hawk Moth larva (Acherontia atropos) - DSC_0735#2 Used a long exposure and directed a strong torch to the vegetation in the background. Looks almost like daylight now! Bokeh lovers may prefer this.

Death’s Head Hawk Moth larva (Acherontia atropos) - DSC_0741#3 And finally, an in-between. I preferred this as the dark green background gives a more natural feel, while preserving a dark background for the caterpillar to stand out.

Did a poll at Clubsnap….
  • 11 chose the black background
  • 5 chose the bright background
  • 4 chose the dark green background

Looks like my choice was the least popular… lol

Here are some other odd-looking caterpillars found in Singapore’s parks.

Day Flying Moth larva - DSC_6717#4 Caterpillar of a Day Flying Moth (Pompelon marginata). It secretes fluids out of its little body spikes for self-defence. More photos of this caterpillar here.

Caterpillar - DSC_5559#5 Some caterpillars can get extremely hairy with hair as long as their bodies!

Blue Nawab (Polyura schreiber) - DSC_5263#6 Head of a Blue Nawab (Polyura schreiber) caterpillar. The majestic crown reminds me of a dragon king!

Archduke larva (Lexias pardalis dirteana) - DSC_3917#7 This caterpillar of the Archduke (Lexias pardalis dirteana) is beautifully coloured and donned with a long line of appendages like a Christmas Tree. We sometimes called it the Christmas Cat. 😛 More photos of this caterpillar here.

Caterpillar - DSC_3631#8 When crawling around, these caterpillars can get into very interesting poses!

Caterpillar - DSC_1622#9 But they eat without control, and tend to expose themselves to birds after eating up the leaves. 🙁

Caterpillar - DSC_8048#10 Some may resemble some kind of brush…

Nolid moth caterpillar (Nolidae) - DSC_1158#11 Many couldn’t make head or tail of this larva of the Nolid Moth. Affectionately known as the big head cat to some regular park visitors. That ought to tell you where the head lies. 🙂

Leopard Lacewing larva (Cethosia cyane) - DSC_0116#12 Some may have bright colours to ward off prey like this pair of Leopard Lacewing caterpillars, as bright colours often co-relates to venom!

Plain Tiger larva - DSC_5631#13 Plain Tiger’s caterpillar, very distinctly coloured as well.

Onto the other findings for the night… 🙂

Tailless Whip Scorpion (Amblypygi) - DSC_0631#14 A common subject now at Nangka Trail, but very tiny – about 3mm big.

Katydid (Phisidini) - DSC_0639#15 A Katydid with some really radical looking legs. Someone mentioned it being called a marvelous katydid???

Katydid (Phisidini) - DSC_0645#16 Full length view of this katydid

Tarantula (Phlogiellus inermis) - DSC_0659#17 Another regular subject – Singapore Tarantula. This time with Raynox as it was really too troublesome to take it off.

Tarantula (Phlogiellus inermis) - DSC_0661#18 Got really close to the eyes

Damarchus workmani - DSC_0664#19 An interesting looking fella at its burrow entrance. Not as hairy as the other tarantulas, and sports orange legs. Possibly a juvenile Damarchus workmani

Damarchus workmani - DSC_0680#20 Here’s how it looks like when guarding its home

Orb Weaver Spider (Gea sp.) - DSC_0697#21 Possibly the Neogea Nocticolor Spider, but I’ve never seen it on a leaf before. This fella was resting on a leaf.

Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae) - DSC_0747#22 Closeup on what could be a sac spider. It ran off after this single shot. 🙁

Harvestman (Opiliones) - DSC_0769#23 A very interesting looking Harvestman (Opiliones). Suspect that it has 2 arms with little pincers at the end.

Harvestman (Opiliones) - DSC_0780#24 Front view, but the arms are out of focus

House Centipede (Scutigeridae) - DSC_0816#25 Another common resident – the House Centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata). Light kindly provided by Steven Tor. 🙂

House Centipede (Scutigeridae) - DSC_0816#26 Closer view at the House Centipede

The complete album can be viewed here.



Hi my name is Nicky Bay. I am a macro photographer, instructor and book author, travelling the world to document the vast micro biodiversity that nature has to offer. Follow my updates and discover with me the incredible beauty and science behind our planet's micro creatures!

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