Santa Cruz County, Arizona
Sphingidae Larvae

Manduca rustica, dark fifth instar, Patagonia, Santa Cruz Co., Arizona,
on buddleia bush, September 20, 2008, courtesy of Philip Kline.

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 Philip Kline. Philip sent me the beautiful image of the Manduca rustica larvae at the top of the page.

Philip writes, "I also found this very cool black hornworm on the buddleia bush in the Patagonia butterfly garden. Anyone know what it is?"

I replied, "Philip,

"I have never seen a dark Manduca rustica larva before, but external features match except for the colour. I would like permission to use images with credit to you on my Arizona Sphingidae pages. Please let me know the Arizona county."

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 Santa Cruz County (thirty-nine are reported on BAMONA as of August 31, 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 (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present, although unreported. A "BAMONA" indicates the species is confirmed on BAMONA site. Please also forward your sightings to BAMONA, an excellent on-line resource.

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.

Many thanks to Bradley Risk who sends this stunning image of a beautiful Eumorpha typhon larva.

Eumorpha typhon fifth instar, Canelo, Santa Cruz County, Arizona,
August 27, 2012, courtesy of Bradley Risk.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, BAMONA, 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, BAMONA, Sonoran Sphinx,

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

Cocytius antaeus, WO 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 BAMONA, 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 WO, 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 BAMONA, Smith's Sphinx

Larvae feed on mints (Salvia) and are mottled white and grey-brown with a purplish tint.

Manduca florestan BAMONA,

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 BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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 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).

Sagenosoma elsa WO, 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 asellus BAMONA, the Asella sphinx

Larval hosts are Manzanita and Arctostaphylos of the Ericaceae family. Look for a blue horn and strong purple colouration.

Sphinx chersis BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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. generally more eastern species; possibly

Smerinthus cerisyi BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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:

Aellopos clavipes BAMONA, the Aellopos Sphinx.

Larvae feed on various species of the Rubiaceae (madder) family. Randia rhagocarpa, Randia monantha, Randia aculeata, Guettarda macrosperma and Genipa americana are listed as hosts. Probably only further south.

Aellopos titan WO, the Titan Sphinx.

Larvae feed on seven year apple, Casasia clusiifolia, common buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis, and white indigoberry, Randia mitis. Randia monantha, Randia aculeata, Albizzia adinocephala and Randia grandifolia, all in the madder family (Rubiaceae), also serve as hosts. rare

Callionima falcifera BAMONA. The narrow, flattened head of the larva is clearly visible in the lateral view, left below. It might be in Cochise County as a stray.

Callionima parce BAMONA, the Parce sphinx

Sorry, no larval image available at this time.

Enyo lugubris the Mournful sphinx WO,

Larvae probably feed on Vitus tiliifolia and other members of the Vitaceae family: Vitis, Cissus, Ampelopsis. In Florida larvae have been reported on larvae on Possum Vine (Cissus sicyoides) and Pepper Vine (Ampelopsis arborea).

Erinnyis alope the Alope Sphinx BAMONA.

Larvae feed on papaya (Carica papaya), nettlespurge (Jatropha), and allamanda (Allamanda).

Erinnyis crameri, the Cramer's Sphinx, BAMONA,

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

Erinnyis domingonis the Dominican Sphinx WO,

Sorry, no larval image is available at this time.

Erinnyis ello BAMONA, 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 lassauxii BAMONA, the Dominican Sphinx

Larvae feed on papaya (Carica papaya), Manihot esculenta and various plants (Macroscepis obovata) in the milkweed family.

Erinnyis obscura, the Obscure Sphinx, BAMONA.
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.

Isognathus rimosa, the Rimosus Sphinx, BAMONA.
Females lay eggs on Frangipani (Plumeria species), including Plumeria rubra Cuba, and Plumeria alba, Plumeria obtusa and Plumeria rubra Puerto Rico.

Pachylia ficus, the Fig Sphinx, WO

Females feed and lay eggs on fig leaves, especially Strangler Fig (Ficus aurea). Ficus carica, Ficus microcarpa, Ficus religiosa, Ficus pumila, Ficus gamelleira, Ficus prinoides, Ficus pumila and Artocarpus integrifolia are also listed as hosts.

The extreme variability of larvae is shown to the left.

The few images that have been sent to me for identification help are usually as per the upper image.

Pseudosphinx tetrio, the Tetrio Sphinx, WO
These caterpillars defoliate the Frangipani tree (Plumeria spp.) They generally start at the tip of a leaf and work back. The caterpillar is velvety black with yellow rings and an orange head. They can get up to six inches long. Larvae also feed on Allamanda cathartica and probably other members of the Dogbane family: Apocynaceae.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon BAMONA, 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 fasciatus BAMONA, the Banded Sphinx
Larvae feed upon primrose-willow, Ludwigia (water primrose) and other plants in the evening primrose family. This hornless larva is highly variable.

Look for large, dark spiracular circles and a dark line in the center of the back. See image at bottom of this page.

Eumorpha satellitia licaon BAMONA, 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 BR/BAMONA, 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 typhon fifth instar, Canelo, August 27, 2012, courtesy of Bradley Risk.

Eumorpha vitis BAMONA, 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:

Cautethia spuria BAMONA, the Spurious Sphinx
Larvae feed on Coutarea hexandra, Chiococca alba and Chiococca pachyphylla and probably other species of the Rubiaceae family. rare stray; varied larval forms

Hyles lineata BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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 WO, the Vega sphinx

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


Xylophanes falco BAMONA, 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.

Use your browser "Back" button to return to the previous page.

This page is brought to you by Bill Oehlke and the WLSS. Pages are on space rented from Bizland. If you would like to become a "Patron of the Sphingidae Site", contact Bill.

Please send sightings/images to Bill. I will do my best to respond to requests for identification help.

Show appreciation for this site by clicking on flashing butterfly to the left.
The link will take you to a page with links to many insect sites.

Visit Arizona Catocala: Underwing Moths.