Does anyone know what this big caterpillar is? It is bright yellow with kind of geometrical triangular grey strips on the back, and also black points. It is huge for the region: 5 to 7 centimetres long and maybe 1 centimetre large!

I never saw this in the region, for the 40 years I've been living here (East France, 600m altitude, hardiness zone ~7).

I found it at the bottom of a I had to completely cut. (due to an attack of another newcomer insect, the box tree moth ). Now is that one going to start attack other plants in my yard? I think there ain't many there yet, since I saw it only once last week (end August).

Here's the beast (you can click to enlarge, a little scary).

big caterpillar with grey triangular strips big caterpillar with grey triangular strips big caterpillar with grey triangular strips

Google image search is not of much help (yet;):


img2: now a snake??

img3: it went for some sort of cater...

  • 2
    It'll be a Hawk Moth of some variety, they're always fantastic as caterpillars - not sure which, will do some research
    – Bamboo
    Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 9:32

1 Answer 1


It's one of the Hawk Moths, and I think its the larvae of the Death's Head Hawk Moth, Acherontia atropos. The markings on its back start out distinctly blue, but turn to greyish silver over time, as it gets bigger. It has this little appendage that you can see in the picture, not unusual for hawk moth larvae http://mentalfloss.com/article/57940/12-facts-about-deaths-head-hawkmoth. You really don't need to worry that it's going to decimate or destroy your entire garden - this one looks about ready to pupate anyway. We supposedly get these in Britain during the summer, but I've never seen one here.

If you want more technical information and lots of images of both the adult moth and its larvae in various stages, see here http://tpittaway.tripod.com/sphinx/a_atr.htm

  • 1
    Mr? funny, I really don't recall having a gender reassignment!
    – Bamboo
    Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 17:17
  • Then again, Thanks so much Miss Bamboo!! Looks like that one indeed. Sorry about the reassignment :)
    – J. Chomel
    Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 4:42

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