Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Chris, Lyn and Riley Watson (Huntsville, October 7, 2012
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, October 7, 2012
Updated as per BAMONA, , October 7, 2012
Madison County, Alabama
Eumorpha achemon, Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama,
October 7, 2012, courtesy of Chris, Lyn and Riley Watson.
For care of "found larvae/caterpillars" visit Manduca sexta larva, central Texas, August 21, 2008, Trina Woodall.
Most Sphingidae larvae have a characteristic anal horn. In some species, members of the Lapara, Eumorpha, Proserpinus and Specodina genera, the anal horn is absent or is
replaced by an only slightly raised "eye" in the final instar.
This page is inspired by and dedicated to
Chris, Lyn and Riley Watson who provide the Eumorpha achemon larval image at top of page.
Unfortunately I see what appears to be a parasitoid exit wound on the dorsal side of the fifth whitish lateral marking.
If I am correct, this larva will never become an adult moth.
Twenty-seven Sphingidae species are listed for Alabama on the U.S.G.S. (now BAMONA)
website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in
(Four are reported on
BAMONA as of October 7, 2012).
It is hoped
that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you
quickly identify the caterpillars you are likely to encounter.
A "WO" after the species name indicates that
I have no confirmed reports of this species in Madison County, but I
(William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or
might be present.
indicates the moth is reported on the BAMONA website and/or in
Lepidoptera of North America, #1. Distribution of Silkmoths (Saturniidae) and Hawkmoths (Sphingidae)
of Eastern North America,
an excellent little booklet available through Paul Opler.
Please help me develop this list with improved, documented accuracy
by sending sightings (species, date, location), preferably with an
electronic image, via email to
Please also send yor sighitngs to BAMONA.
The night-blooming moon flower will attract many
Sphingidae at dusk and into the night.
WO, Pink-spotted Hawkmoth:
Larvae feed on plants in the Convolvulaceae family, especially
Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato) and in the Solanaceae family,
especially (Datura) (jimsonweed) and related plants in the
Americas. There is also a brown form. Look for very large, dark
the Elm Sphinx or Four-horned Sphinx
Larvae feed on Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood
(Tilia), and cherry (Prunus).
There are both green and brown forms. The four horns near
the head are diagnostic.
Young caterpillars feed gregariously on Catalpa species
(Catalpa bignoniodes and C. speciosa) in the
Bignoniaceae family, skeletonizing the foliage.
Larvae are mostly white in early instars.
WO, Hagen's Sphinx or Osage Orange Sphinx
Larvae feed on osage orange (Maclura pomifera), and they have a granulous appearance with variable amounts of purple
along the oblique white stripes.
Fraxinus, Ligustrum, Quercus, Crataegus and
Chionanthus virginicus are listed as hosts.
In the fifth instar, the spiracular ovals are decidedly red and the
anal horn is off-white to pinkish laterally.
WO, the Pawpaw Sphinx
Larvae feed on pawpaw (Asimina triloba), littleleaf sweetfern
(Myrica aspleniifolia), possum haw (Ilex decidua), and
inkberry (Ilex glabra) as well as Tall Gallberry Holly
Louis Handfield reports larvae probably feed on Ilex verticellata
WO, the Southern Pine Sphinx:
Larvae feed upon various pine species, including loblolly pine
(Pinus taeda) and longleaf pine (P. pinaster). They are well
camouflaged and are without an anal horn.
Larvae probably feed upon various pine species, including loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) and longleaf pine (Pinus pinaster).
Larvae feed on ash in the Fraxinus genus. Syringa and Ulmus have
also been reported.
Note the black anal horn.
The caterpillars are called Tomato Hornworms and each has a black horn at the end of the abdomen.
Larvae feed on potato, tobacco, tomato, and other plants in the
nightshade family (Solanaceae).
WO, the Rustic Sphinx:
Caterpillar has numerous white nodules on top of thorax and
seven pairs of oblique, blue-gray stripes along side of body.
Horn is white at base and blue-gray at the tip. Many hosts are utilized.
BAMONA, the Carolina Sphinx
Tobacco Hornworms, equipped with a red-tipped horn at the end of the
abdomen, are true gluttons and feed on tobacco and tomato, and
occasionally potato and pepper crops and other plants in the
nightshade family (Solanaceae).
Preferred hosts are common trumpetcreeper (Campsis radicans),
Florida yellow-trumpet (Tecoma stans), lilac
(Syringa species), and
passionflower (Passiflora species).
The anal horn is blue, preceded by a yellow dash.
Larvae hide in the day and feed primarily on cherry, plum, and apple
at night. Larvae have been found on Amelanchier nantuckensis
in Massachusetts and have been reared to pupation in Michigan on
Prunus serotina. Note purple oblique lines.
Larvae feed exclusively on various species of ash (Fraxinus).
Raised, pointed bumps, especially near the head and thorax give this
caterpillar a reptilian appearance.
In the final instar, the black on the head, lateral lines, horn and on abdominal
legs is diagnostic.
Larvae feed primarily on lilac and fringe.
Amorpha juglandis larvae feed upon Walnut and butternut (Juglans),
hickory (Carya), alder (Alnus), beech (Fagus),
hazelnut (Corylus), and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya).
the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx
Larvae feed on poplars and cottonwood. Anal horn is greatly reduced in final instar.
Paonias astylus flies from March-September in Florida and from
April-September in Louisiana. There is one brood northward from
This appears to be an uncommon species.
Larvae accept willows, birches, and cherries.
I have also found them in the wild on oak in eastern Canada.
The skin is very granulose.
The larvae depicted is probably third instar.
There may be more red spotting on the sides
as larvae mature.
Larvae feed upon many forest trees including birches and cherries,
but are expecially fond of poplars and willows. Red markings on sides
vary greatly from specimen to specimen.
Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth
Larval host plants include Snowberry (Symphoricarpos),
honeysuckle (Lonicera), Coralberry, viburnums, Blue Dogbane
(Apocynum) and dwarf bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera).
Horn is black with a yellow base.
BAMONA, the Hummingbird Clearwing
There is also an orangey-pink prepupal form. The lateral line runs
from S1 to the blue horn.
Hemaris thysbe larvae feed on viburnum and related plants.
Eumorpha achemon, Huntsville, October 7, 2012, Chris, Lyn and Riley Watson
the Achemon Sphinx:
Larvae feed upon Grape (Vitis), Virginia Creeper
(Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and other vines and ivies
Larvae occur in both a light (green) form, a reddish-orange form, and a darker (tan/brown)
form. Note six "segmented" oblique lines.
WO, the Banded Sphinx:
Larvae feed upon primrose-willow, Ludwigia (water primrose)
and other plants in evening primrose family. Hornless larva is
Look for large, dark spiracular circles and a dark
line in center of the back.
If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you might encounter
Note the five large white ovals. There are orangey-brown and green
In additon to Virginia creeper larvae accept Grape (Vitis),
ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), and cayenne pepper (Capsicum).
Larvae are green until the final instar.
Larvae feed on Azalea and Viburnum and progress very rapidly. The
larva to the left on Viburnum cassinoides is getting ready to
pupate. Color change from green to light burgundy-brown indicates
pupation is imminent.
WO, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx
If you have the
foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this
species nearby. The lower wings are orange.
Larvae feed on Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia),
Grape (Vitis), Ampelopsis, and Viburnum.
the Hydrangea Sphinx:
Larvae turn deep chocolate brown just prior to pupation, and
"horn" on the tail also turns downward as pupation draws near.
Darapsa versicolor larvae feed on Smooth hydrangea
(Hydrangea arborescens), buttonbush
(Cephalanthus occidentalis), and waterwillow
Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), and
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus) all serve as larval hosts.
The alternating yellow and greyish-green rings across the back
distinguish this larva.
WO, the White-lined Sphinx:
Larvae are highly varied and feed on a great diversity of plants
including willow weed (Epilobium), four o'clock (Mirabilis),
apple (Malus), evening primrose (Oenothera), elm
(Ulmus), grape (Vitis), tomato (Lycopersicon),
purslane (Portulaca), and Fuschia.
All larvae seem, however, to have the red/black swellings split by
Larvae feed on (Onagraceae) including evening primrose
(Oenothera), gaura (Gaura), and willow weed
the Abbott's Sphinx:
Larvae feed at night on grape (Vitis) and ampelopsis
(Ampelopsis) and hide on the bark of their host plants during
the day. Virginia creeper would also be a suitable host.
There is also a dark form
without the green patches. Note the "raised eye", replacing the anal horn.
the Tersa Sphinx:
Larvae also feed on Borreria, Catalpa and Manettia spp. and
Smooth buttonplant (Spermacoce glabra) and starclusters
(Pentas species). They are also recorded on joe-pie weed and
Hamelia patens and on Hedoydis nigricans. The green form may be more
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.
Eggs of many North American species are offered during the spring and summer. Occasionally
summer Actias luna and summer Antheraea polyphemus cocoons are available. Shipping to US destinations is done
from with in the US.
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