|Do you see owl-fly larvae, spiders, or scorpions?|
I found this caterpillar in the forest about 2 hours from Iquitos, Peru.
What initially interested me were the two or three tiny insects sitting on his back (the live ones.) Caterpillars are often hosts to various parasitic wasps, and I wanted to find one depositing her eggs. I know, I know... but I've been trying to photograph a parasitic wasp in the act of ovipositing for two years.
I've found wasps "guarding" a host, a ton of parasitized creatures, and larvae emerging from the host and spinning their cocoons — but I never actually shot a wasp laying the eggs.
Once I realized they were not wasps but flies of some kind, I took a couple of photos and moved on.
I was also pondering the pattern on the 'pillar's back — could it mimic the form of two spiders? And would this ward off parasitic flies or wasps?
Once home, I spent a fair amount of time trying to ID the 'pillar with no luck except that it may be in the Hesperiidae family — and that's tenuous at best.
So I posted the pic to both iNaturalist and my Instagram account.
On IG, someone pointed out that the patterns on his back could also be interpreted as owl-fly larva -- another insect predator.
So look at his back. Would parasitic wasps or midges be more or less likely to land on the caterpillar and lay eggs or feed on his hemolymph (blood) as it appeared the flies were doing? And why is this scheme not working? Food for thought…
Shot in the field using Olympus OM-D E-M1ii. Lens: Zuiko 60mm. TT350 Godox flash with DIY diffuser. Species ID and fact corrections are always welcome.