Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, September, 2009
Updated as per personal communication with Jim Willis (Manduca rustica), September 28, 2009

Pinal County, Arizona
Sphingidae Larvae

Manduca rustica, fifth instar on cape honeysuckle, Apache Junction, Pinal Co., Arizona,
September 27, 2009, courtesy of Jim Willis.

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke at oehlkew@islandtelecom.com
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 Jim Willis. Jim sent me the image of the Manduca rustica larva at the top of the page.

Fifty-three Sphingidae species are listed for Arizona on the U.S.G.S. website (now BAMONA). Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Pinal County (nine are reported on U.S.G.S. as of September 28, 2009). 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.

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.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, WO Pink-spotted Hawkmoth: Convolvulaceae family:, especially Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato); Solanaceae family: especially (Datura) (jimsonweed) and related plants in Americas. Also a brown form. Look for very large, dark spiracular circles. likely as an adult stray; unlikely as larva

Lintneria separatus WO, 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."

Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS, Five-spotted Hawkmoth. Tomato Hornworms: each has a black horn at the end of abdomen. Potato, tobacco, tomato, and other plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae). Most larvae are green, but there is also a very beautiful brown form to the left.

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

Manduca rustica on cape honeysuckle, Apache Junction, September 27, 2009, Jim Willis

Manduca sexta WO, 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 WO, 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 asellus USGS, Asella sphinx. Larval hosts are Manzanita and Arctostaphylos of the Ericaceae family. Look for a blue horn and strong purple colouration.

Sphinx chersis USGS, Great Ash Sphinx. Larvae: pale bluish green. Head with pair of yellow lateral bands meeting at the apex. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx libocedrus BAMONA, Incense Cedar Sphinx. New Mexican forestiera (Forestiera neomexicana), Forestiera angustifolia, little leaf ash (Fraxinus gooddingii) in Oleaceae family. Green and dark forms; larvae tend to darken just before pupation.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx occidentalis USGS, 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 WO?, 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. generally more eastern species; possibly

Smerinthus cerisyi USGS, Cerisy's Sphinx; Greatly resemble modesta larvae, both 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".

Smerinthus saliceti USGS, 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 pale green; one lime green. Willow (Salix) or poplar (Populus).

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

Erinnyis crameri, Cramer's Sphinx, WO. Various plants in the dogbane family (Apocynaceae): Rauvolfia ligustrina, Rauvolfia tetraphylla, Stemmadenia obovata. There is also a brown form. likely as an adult stray; unlikely in larval stage.

Erinnyis ello USGS, Ello Sphinx. Papaya (Carica papaya), Cnidoscolus angustidens, poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), guava (Psidium species), saffron plum (Bumelia angustifolia/Bumelia celastrina). Manilkara bahamensis, Willow Bustic (Bumelia salicifolia) and Painted Leaf (Poinsettia heterophylla) are also hosts. Nice socks! Very variable.

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

Hemaris thetis WO Snowberry (Symphoricarpos), honeysuckle (Lonicera), Coralberry, viburnums, high bush cranberry, hawthorn (Crataegus). Horn: black with slightly lighter base. This western species was formerly classified as H. diffinis or H. senta. Those species west of the Continental Divide are H. thetis.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon USGS, Achemon Sphinx. 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.

Macroglossini tribe:

Hyles lineata USGS, White-lined Sphinx. 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), Fuschia. All larvae seem, however, to have red/black swellings split by dorso-lateral lines.

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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