Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, September 14, 2009
Updated as per personal communication with Kellie Cobb (Eumorpha achemon larva), September 14, 2009

Sebastian County, Arkansas
Sphingidae Larvae

Eumorpha achemon larva, Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas,
September 14, 2009, courtesy of Kellie Cobb and son.

This page is dedicated to Kellie Cobb of Fort Smith, Sebastian County, for her interest in lepidoptera and her desire to share some of nature' s wonders with her son and his class. Kellie sends the image at the top of the page.

Kellie writes, "I have found today a large green caterpillar that I think is the Eumorpha pandorus you write about in your website. I put it in a jar with dirt and leaves so my son could take it to school. I think it is mature as it has no horn and has a spot on its rear end. We have mostly oak around our house, but also much Virginia Creeper - which I was happy to read on your website is a food source for the caterpillar. Can you tell me if we would be able to keep the caterpillar captive during this process and let my son's class witness the process of metamorphosis? I could collect Virginia Creeper for it to eat as there are scads of it in the yard. I would send pictures as it develops if that would be helpful. Please advise! Thanks very much for your very informative site."

I replied, "It is probably done feeding or nearly done feeding, but certainly your son can take it to school in a glass jar with some Virginia creeper foliage still attached to stem of plant vine. Lid should be on tight with no air holes. You want to conserve moisture in foliage. There will be plenty of air in jar for caterpillar. Normally the moth would not emerge til next summer.

"I would love to see and post pictures on webpage, credited to you and your son. Please send some now as jpg attachments. Please also let me know the Arkansas county as I keep records of such things. Might be better in a non breakable jar (plastic tub, probably a better idea) for transport to and from school!"

"Thanks for your speedy reply. I gathered up some virginia creeper and also some muscadine grape leaves - not on the vine, though. Will they not eat loose leaves? I can gather some more virginia creeper on the vine but the grape leaves are from someone else's yard, and are in decline early this year - so I may not get more of those. So the caterpillar will over winter in the soil? Are there light/temperature concerns? Let me know if you think we can keep it for such a long time. If not, let me know the best place to release it.

FYI we are in Sebastian County - on the Arkansas River - which is the western border between AR and OK. (see link). Thanks again!!"

"It will eat loose leaves, but the ones attached still to vine will maintain moisture content longer and are better for caterpillar. Here is page for Craighead County, Arkansas. Goto http://www.silkmoths.bizland.com/arCraigheadsphlar.htm. Once you are there, Click on the link on that page where it says "For care of "found larvae/caterpillars" visit Manduca sexta larva, central Texas, August 21, 2008, Trina Woodall", and that will tell you how to care for found larvae. I would like to make a similar page for Sebastian County and so would like to receive a jpg image of the larva. If kept warm over winter it might emerge in mid winter when you would not be able to release it. Once you get it to pupa stage, send me another email and I will send further instructions, but I think most of what you need to know is answered on the link above."

The 6th graders were suitably impressed if only with the size of this bug! Here are some pics. It is about 3.5 inches long or so... and was bright green but we put him in a container with some fresh soil and leaves to eat so he is little dirty looking. It doesn't seem to be eating the virginia creeper or the grape leaves - but is very reactive to being disturbed - thrashing and flipping around the container. Is the dirt in the container a bad idea? Can you confirm the name of the caterpillar and that we can keep him over the winter? Can we keep him in a container in the garage (ambient temp) or do we need to refrigerate as you suggest in the noted blog?

"Should I remove the dirt or change the container? It is a shallow container - should I use a tall one with a branch and food leaves?"

"You can leave it where it is. As long as the soil is not hard packed, it should be able to excavate and pupate in there. Then you would have to dig up the pupa to see it. That is why I recommended glass jar and paper towel, but do as you like.

"It is one of the Eumorpha species, probably pandorus. The difference between pandorus and achemon is in the shape of the side panels which I cannot see in these images.

If you want it to pupate in soil, the soil needs to be deeper, probably three or four inches of loose soil would be good, but I still recommend the method (loose paper towels; no soil) described on the link I provided."

The image at bottom of this page allowed me to confirm the larva as Eumorpha achemon, a close relative of Eumorpha pandorus.

For care of "found larvae/caterpillars" visit Manduca sexta larva, central Texas, August 21, 2008, Trina Woodall.

Twenty-nine Sphingidae species are listed for Arkansas on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Sebastian County (none on USGS). It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the Sphingidae caterpillars you are likely to encounter.

Moths that I expect may be in Sebastian County, although not officially recorded, are indicated by a "WO".

Please help me develop this list with improved, documented accuracy by sending sightings (species, date, location), preferably with an electronic image, via email to Bill Oehlke.

The night-blooming moon flower will attract many Sphingidae at dusk and into the night.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, 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 spiracular circles. unlikely

Ceratomia amyntor WO, 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.

Ceratomia catalpae WO, the Catalpa Sphinx

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.

Ceratomia hageni 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.

Ceratomia undulosa WO, the Waved Sphinx

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.

Dolba hyloeus 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 (Ilex coriacea). Louis Handfield reports larvae probably feed on Ilex verticellata in Quebec.

Lintneria eremitus WO, the Hermit Sphinx. Larval hosts are various species of beebalm (Monarda fistulosa), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), and sage (Salvia). Joe Garris of Sussex, New Jersey, reports larvae also feed on Collinsonia canadensis (Canada Horsebalm, Richweed, Hardhack, Heal-All, Horseweed), and on the houseplant, Coleus.

Manduca jasminearum WO, the Ash Sphinx

Larvae feed on ash in the Fraxinus genus. Syringa (lilac) and Ulmus (elm) have also been reported.

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

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).

Manduca rustica WO, the Rustic Sphinx
The caterpillar has numerous white nodules on top of the thorax and seven pairs of oblique, blue-gray stripes along the side of the body. The horn is white at the base and blue-gray at the tip. Many hosts are utilized.

Manduca sexta WO, 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).

Paratrea plebeja WO, the Plebeian Sphinx

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.

Sphinx canadensis WO, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere, but it might be present in Craighead County.

Larval hosts are white ash (Fraxinus americana) and blueberry (Vaccinium). sorry, no larval image available

Sphinx chersis WO, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx: The larvae are pale bluish green. The head has a pair of yellow lateral bands meeting at the apex. The oblique, lateral stripes are pale and bordered anteriorly with a darker green. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen. slight possibility

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

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. I use pin cherry on PEI. slight possibility

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO, the Walnut Sphinx

Amorpha juglandis larvae feed upon Walnut and butternut (Juglans), hickory (Carya), alder (Alnus), beech (Fagus), hazelnut (Corylus), and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya).

Pachysphinx modesta WO, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

Larvae feed on poplars and cottonwood.

Paonias excaecata WO, the Blinded Sphinx

Larvae accept willows, birches, and cherries. I have also found them in the wild on oak in eastern Canada.

The skin is very granulose.

Paonias myops WO, the Small-eyed Sphinx

The larvae depicted is probably third instar.

There may be more red spotting on the sides as larvae mature.

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, the Twin-spotted Sphinx

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.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

Hemaris thysbe WO, 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.

Hemaris diffinis WO, the 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.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon KC, the Achemon Sphinx

Larvae feed upon Grape (Vitis), Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and other vines and ivies (Ampelopsis).

Larvae occur in both a light (green) form and a darker (tan/brown) form. Note six "segmented" oblique lines.

Eumorpha achemon larva, Fort Smith, September 14, 2009, Kellie Cobb and son.

Eumorpha pandorus WO, the Pandorus Sphinx

If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you might encounter this species.

Note the five large white ovals. There areorangey-brown and green forms also.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, the Nessus Sphinix

In additon to Virginia creeper larvae accept Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), and cayenne pepper (Capsicum).

Larvae are green until the final instar.

Darapsa myron 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.

Darapsa versicolor WO, the Hydrangea Sphinx

Larvae turn a deep chocolate brown just prior to pupation, and the "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 (Decodon verticillatus).

Deidamia inscriptum WO, the Lettered Sphinx

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.

Hyles lineata 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 dorso-lateral lines.

Sphecodina abbottii WO, 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.

Xylophanes tersa WO, 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 common.

Eumorpha achemon larva, Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas,
September 14, 2009, courtesy of Kellie Cobb and son.

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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