Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Kris Ratzlaff re Stu Hancock photo, August 22, 2010
Updated as per Butterflies and Moths of North America, formerly USGS, August 22, 2010
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, August 22, 2010

Pima County, Arizona
Sphingidae Larvae

Lintneria separatus, Mount Lemmon, Santa Catalina Mountains, Tucson, Arizona, 8000ft,
heavily parasitized fifth instar larva, courtesy of Stu Hancock, via Kris Ratzlaff,
early August, 2010, tentative id by Jim Tuttle.

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke at
Comments, suggestions and/or additional information/sightings are welcomed by Bill.

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

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Stu Hancock and Kris Ratzlaff. Kris sent me the image of Lintneria separatus depicted above with note that the photo was taken by Stu Hancock.

Kris writes, August 15, 2010, "I came across your website on silkmoths while trying to identify the attached caterpillar. My friend Stu Hancock found this caterpillar about a week ago while on top of Mt Lemmon (8000ft elevation, Santa Catalina Mountains on the north side of Tucson Arizona). I think it might be a Lintneria separatus, but was wondering if you could confirm?"

I reply, "It is either Lintneria separatus, heavily parasitized, or it is Lintneria istar. I would like permission to post image, credited to you and or finder of larva, on a webpage?? I will send image to Jim Tuttle to see if he can make a determination."

Jim Tuttle also assists when the determinations become difficult, and he tentatively indicates this one is likely L. separatus. Jim writes, "Ironically, I just returned to OZ, and my last week in the States (last week) was in Tucson. I used to live at the base of Mt Lemmon and took adults of L. separatus on several occasions on the top of the mountain. I strongly suspect that it is separatus but cannot say with absolute certainty that it is not istar from the one available photo. That said, I am fairly confident that it is separatus; just not as distinctively marked as the larvae that I have reared."

Many thanks also to Adam Fleishman and David Bygott, both of Tucson, Arizona (Pima County). Their image submissions are woven into species files.

Fifty-three Sphingidae species are listed for Arizona on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Pima County (thirty-nine are reported on U.S.G.S. as of August 22, 2010). 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 (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present, although unreported.

A "USGS" indicates the species is confirmed on USGS site. I have omitted some species which probably occur as adult strays that do not breed in Arizona.

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.

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

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, USGS/DB 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.

Ceratomia sonorensis, USGS, Sonoran Sphinx,

Larvae feed on ash (Fraxinus] of the Oleaceae family. probably rare

Cocytius antaeus, USGS The Giant Sphinx, stray. In the last instars, larvae are uniform green with a dark purple center back line and a very sharp white posterior side slash with some dark green on both sides of it. very unlikely in larval stage

Dolbogene hartwegii
Jean Haxaire reports that larvae feed on Tecoma stans.
Very similar to larva of Ceratomia hageni but slenderer.
Horn is granulose and pale blue.

Lintneria istar USGS, the Istar Sphinx

Istar Sphinx larvae feed primarily on mints (Salvia). Larvae can be considerably darker as per the image at top of the page.

I think istar, separatus and smithi are all being reassigned to the Lintneria genus.

Lintneria separatus USGS, the Separated Sphinx

Salvia greggii has been confirmed as a larval host by Robert A. Behrstock.
Jim Tuttle, tentative id, writes, "All of the penultimate instars of both Lintneria (Sphinx) istar and Lintneria (Sphinx) separatus that I have reared have been mundane green."

Lintneria smithi WO, Smith's Sphinx

Larvae feed on mints (Salvia) and are mottled white and grey-brown with a purplish tint. possible but generally more easterly

Manduca florestan USGS

Prominent, extended side slashes determine this species.
Yellow side slashes often occur on larvae feeding on foliage with yellowish underside veins. In the penultimate instar, the anterior three slashes are accentuated. (stray)

Manduca muscosa USGS, Muscosa sphinx

Larvae feed on Verbesina gigantea, Lasianthaea fruticosa, Eupatorium albicaule, Viguiera dentata and Eupatorium albicaule of the Asteraceae family, Lantana camara of the Verbenaceae family, and probably on plants from the families Solanaceae, and Bignoniaceae. Helianthus annuus and Jacaranda caroba have also been reported as larval hosts.

Manduca occulta USGS, Occult sphinx

Larvae feed on plants in the nightshade (Solanaceae): Cestrum glanduliferum, Cestrum racemosum, Solanum accrescens and Solanum hazenii are used in Costa Rica.

Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS, 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). There is also a very beautiful brown form to the left.

Manduca rustica USGS/AF/SF/KR, 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 rustica fifth instar on Desert Willow, Tucson, September 17, 2011, 100mm, Karen Riggs.
Manduca rustica on Desert Willow, Las Cienegas NCA, September 15, 2010, 75mm, David Bygott.
Manduca rustica, Tucson, August 25, 2011, Sue Fehlman

Manduca sexta USGS, 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).

Sagenosoma elsa USGS, the Elsa Sphinx

Larval hosts are unknown, but larvae probably feed on Lycium in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).

Note the strong oblique black lines and the black anal horn.

Sphinx chersis USGS, the Great Ash Sphinx

The larvae are pale bluish green. The head has a pair of yellow lateral bands meeting at the apex.

Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx dollii USGS, the Doll's sphinx

Larval hosts are Alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana) and other juniper species.

It is amazing to me how well the larval spiracular patches and false feet match the pattern and colour of the juniper bark.

Sphinx libocedrus USGS, the Incense Cedar Sphinx

Larvae feed on New Mexican forestiera (Forestiera neomexicana), on Forestiera angustifolia and on little leaf ash (Fraxinus gooddingii) in the Oleaceae family. There are green and dark forms and all larvae tend to darken just before pupation.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx occidentalis USGS, the Big Poplar Sphinx

Larvae feed on cottonwood and poplar (Populus) and willow (Salix).

Larvae are very chunky with little to distinguish them from Pachysphinx modesta.

Paonias myops USGS, the Small-eyed Sphinx

Wild cherry species are the favorites as larval foodplants, but eggs will also be deposited on birches and other forest trees.

To the left a second/third instar larva rests on pin cherry. The "red heart" marking readily identifies this species.

Smerinthus cerisyi USGS, Cerisy's Sphinx; Cerisyi larvae greatly resemble modesta larvae, both being pale green, with granular skin, pale lateral diagonal lines, faint red spiracular circles, and very pale longitudinal lines running from the head to a more pronounced anal diagonal line. Larvae have green heads bounded dorsally with a pale yellow inverted "V".

Smerinthus saliceti USGS, the Salicet Sphinx, flies in valleys and along streamsides from Mexico City north to west Texas, southern Arizona, and extreme southern California. There are two colour morphs, one a pale green and one lime green. Larvae feed on willow (Salix) or poplar (Populus).

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

Erinnyis crameri, the Cramer's Sphinx, USGS

Larvae feed on various plants in the dogbane family (Apocynaceae): Rauvolfia ligustrina, Rauvolfia tetraphylla, Stemmadenia obovata. There is also a brown form.

Erinnyis ello USGS, the Ello Sphinx

Larvae feed on papaya (Carica papaya), Cnidoscolus angustidens, poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), guava (Psidium species) and saffron plum (Bumelia angustifolia/Bumelia celastrina). Manilkara bahamensis, Willow Bustic (Bumelia salicifolia) and Painted Leaf (Poinsettia heterophylla) are also hosts.
Nice socks! Larvae show considerable variation.

Erinnyis obscura, the Obscure Sphinx, USGS
Larvae feed on Rauvolfia ligustrina, Rauvolfia tetraphylla, Stemmadenia obovata, Philibertia, Cynanchum, papaya (Carica papaya), Asclepiadaceae, Blepharodon mucronatum, White vine (Sarcostemma clausum) and Morrenia odorata.

Hemaris thetis WO,

Larval host plants include Snowberry (Symphoricarpos), honeysuckle (Lonicera), Coralberry, viburnums, high bush cranberry and hawthorn (Crataegus).

Horn is black with a slightly lighter base. This western species was formerly classified as H. diffinis or H. senta. Those species west of the Continental Divide are now classified as H. thetis.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon USGS, 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 satellitia licaon USGS, the Satellite Sphinx

In Eumorpha satellitia the white panels are completely enclosed in black whereas in E. vitis the ends of the black panels remain open. Also, satellitia has a faint subdorsal longitudinal stripe that touches the top of the white panels that is lacking in vitis.

I suspect there is also a green form.

Eumorpha typhon USGS, the Typhon Sphinx

Larvae occur in both green and a darker brown form. The head and some thoracic segments are often retracted when the larva is disturbed. Larvae feed on grape foliage.

Eumorpha vitis USGS, the Vine Sphinx
Eumorpha vitis vitis larvae feed upon grape foliage (Vitis) and other vines (Cissus): Cissus pseudosicyoides and Cissus rhombifolia and Cissus sicycoides. I suspect there would be a brown form.

Note five, smooth, narrow, oblique white lines.

Macroglossini tribe:

Hyles lineata USGS, 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.

Proserpinus terlooii USGS the Terloo sphinx

The larval hostplants are documented as Boerhaavia species (at least two--B. coccinea and coulteri have produced larvae). Boerhaavia is in the plant family Nyctaginaceae. There is a pale green form.

Proserpinus vega USGS, the Vega sphinx

Larvae probably feed on (Onagraceae) including evening primrose (Oenothera), gaura (Gaura), and willow weed (Epilobium).

Xylophanes falco USGS, the Falcon Sphinx

There is a single large eye on the thorax and six white circles down the side. There are extensive bands of white dots girdling the abdomen.

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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