British Columbia Sphingidae: Larvae

Hyles gallii on Epilobium, Hazelton, northwestern British Columbia,
courtesy of Shannon Hurst.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Shannon Hurst and her son who sent me the Hyles gallii larval image at the top of this page.

Shannon writes, "My name is Shannon Hurst and I am a naturalist and professional photographer in Hazelton which is located in Northwestern B.C.

"I would like to thank you as your website helped us to diagnose the Hyles gallii larva which my son and I found lounging on fireweed beside the road.

"Thought you might enjoy one of the several pictures we took.

"Thanks again and if you ever need any pictures or research done in the Northwest don't hesitate to contact me."

Special thanks to Daryll who sends this image of a mature Smerinthus ophthalmica larva from East Kootenays.

Smerinthus ophthalmica fifth instar, East Kootenays, BC,
August 1, 2009, courtesy of Daryll.

Daryll writes, "Found in British Columbia, (east Kootenays), fell off the willow tree in a wind storm, about 3 inches long when totally outstretched and 1/2 inch wide, very strong."

Smerinthus jamaicensis fifth instar, British Columbia, courtesy of Ben Trott.

Deilephila elpenor fifth instar, Maple Ridge, British Columbia,
August 21, 2012, courtesy of Marcia Hotvedt.

Hyles gallii, brown form, north of MacKenzie, British Columbia,
September 16, 2013, courtesy of Carrie Briesch.

carrie Briesch, TFT Project Assistant, Industrial Forestry Service Ltd., writes, "I am not sure of identification but thought you might like and could help. I found this one on an old wildfire site at about 1300m elevation high up on a mountain side. Any information would be great!!!

"P.S. It was found north of Mackenzie B.C."

Hyles gallii, like Hyles lineata, exhibit several different larval forms. See gallii file.

Joanna Rotecka provides the following three stunning images from Rock Creek, British Columbia.

Sphinx vashti fifth instar, Rock Creek, British Columbia,
August 7, 2016, courtesy of Joanna Rotecka.

Sphinx vashti fifth instar, Rock Creek, British Columbia,
August 7, 2016, courtesy of Joanna Rotecka.

Sphinx vashti fifth instar, Rock Creek, British Columbia,
August 7, 2016, courtesy of Joanna Rotecka.

The checklist is from the Royal British Columbia Museum website. Images are from various photographers and are credited on species files.

In late 2010, Smerinthus ophthalmica was removed from synonymity with Smerinthus cerisyi. Differences between the two species (often sympatric in Pacific Northwest) are subtle but consistent.

Visit British Columbia Sphingidae: Adult Moths.

Visit British Columbia Catocala: Underwing Moths.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Manduca quinquemaculata RBCM, Five-spotted Hawkmoth: Tomato Hornworms: black horn at end of abdomen. Potato, tobacco, tomato, other plants in nightshade family (Solanaceae). Also a very beautiful brown form. See species file.

Sphinx chersis RBCM, Great Ash Sphinx: Pale bluish green. Head has pair of yellow lateral bands meeting at apex. Ash, lilac, privet, cherry, quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum RBCM, Wild Cherry Sphinx: Hide by day, feed primarily on cherry, plum, apple at night. Amelanchier nantuckensis in Massachusetts; Michigan on Prunus serotina.

Sphinx perelegans RBCM, Elegant Sphinx; Shield on first thoracic segment, same colour as body, tight-fitting hood over vertex of head, hiding pair of glossy black spots, revealed if disturbed.

Sphinx vashti RBCM, Snowberry Sphinx: Common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), coralberry (S. orbiculatus). Note two golden lines/bands of slightly raised bumps, one just behind head, other on thorax. Anal horn is black dorsally; white laterally.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx modesta RBCM, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

Larvae feed on poplars and cottonwood.

Paonias excaecata RBCM, Blinded Sphinx: Willows, birches, and cherries. I have also found them in the wild on oak in eastern Canada. The skin of the mature larva has a very grainy appearance.

Paonias myops RBCM, Small-eyed Sphinx: Wild cherry species are the favorites as larval foodplants, but eggs will also be deposited on birches and other forest trees. There are varying degrees in the amount of red markings along the sides.

Smerinthus cerisyi RBCM, Cerisy's Sphinx; Pale green, granular skin, pale lateral diagonal lines, faint red spiracular circles, very pale longitudinal lines running from head to more pronounced anal diagonal line. Green heads bounded dorsally with pale yellow inverted "V". Note reddish horn.

Smerinthus jamaicensis RBCM, Twin-spotted Sphinx: Blueish-green. Birches, cherries, expecially fond of poplars, willows. Red markings on sides vary greatly from specimen to specimen. Note blue horn. Lacks dorsal lateral line of cerisyi and ophthalmica.

Smerinthus ophthalmica WO: Rresemble cerisyi larvae, pale green, with granular skin, pale lateral diagonal lines, faint red spiracular circles, very pale longitudinal lines running from head to more pronounced anal diagonal line. Green heads bounded dorsally with pale yellow inverted V. Blue horn.

Smerinthus ophthalmica, east Kootenays, August 1, 2009, Daryll
Smerinthus ophthalmica larva, View Royal, August 1, 2010, Lauren, David, Rick Van Acken.
Smerinthus ophthalmica larva, Port Kells/Clayton Heights, Surrey, August 20, 2012, Lisa Ingvallsen

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini Tribe:

Hemaris diffinis RBCM, Snowberry Clearwing: Snowberry (Symphoricarpos), honeysuckle (Lonicera), Coralberry, viburnums, Blue Dogbane (Apocynum), dwarf bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera). Horn: black, yellow base.

Hemaris thysbe RBCM, Hummingbird Clearwing: Orangey-pink prepupal form. Lateral line runs from S1 to blue horn. Viburnum and related plants.

Macroglossini Tribe:

Deilephila elpenor NK/SL/MH, Large Elephant Hawk Moth Introduced and established in southern B.C. Larvae prefer Epilobium and Gallium, but will also eat foliage of other plants.

Deilephila elpenor adult, East Vancouver, June 16, 2011, Nayt Keane Deilephila elpenor adult, Maple Ridge, July 27, 2011, Stephanie Larbalestier
Deilephila elpenor larva, Maple Ridge, August 21, 2012, Marcia Hotvedt

Hyles gallii RBCM/CB, Bedstraw Hawk Moth, Gallium Sphinx. Smooth, shiny, often black, grow extremely rapidly. Like black licorice strips: shiny, long, thin, do not seem to have or exercise much longitudinal muscle strength. Black and brown forms, often feed on Epilobium (fireweed).

Hyles gallii final instar, brown form, north of Mackenzie, September 16, 2013, Carrie Briesch.

Hyles lineata RBCM, White-lined Sphinx: Highly varied. Willow weed (Epilobium), four o'clock (Mirabilis), apple (Malus), evening primrose (Oenothera), elm (Ulmus), grape (Vitis), tomato (Lycopersicon), purslane (Portulaca), Fuschia. Red/black swellings split by dorso-lateral lines.

Proserpinus clarkiae RBCM, Clark's Sphinx: Larvae feed on elegant fairyfan (Clarkia unguiculata) in the evening primrose family (Onagraceae).

Proserpinus flavofasciata RBCM, Yellow-banded Day Sphinx: Penultimate instar: pale green with pair of pale, dorsolateral lines running from head to base of short caudal horn. Last instar: brown-black with numerous black dots; caudal horn replaced by black button surrounded by white ring edged with black.

Enjoy some of nature's wonderments, giant silk moth cocoons. These cocoons are for sale winter and fall. Beautiful Saturniidae moths will emerge the following spring and summer. Read Actias luna rearing article. Additional online help available.

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