Sphingidae Larval Checklist
Los Angeles County, California
Hyles lineata feeding on Gaura lindheimerii Siskiyou
May 29, 2007, Westchester, Los Angeles County, courtesy
of Audrey Morris.
For care of "found larvae/caterpillars" visit Manduca sexta larva, central
Texas, August 21, 2008, Trina Woodall.
Thirty-two Sphingidae species are listed in the USGS for California. Not all of the species are reported by USGS
or anticipated in Los Angeles County.
It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the Sphingidae larvae you have encountered.
A WO" after the species name indicates that I have no confirmed reports of this species in Los Angeles County, but I
(William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present.
A USGS indicates the moth is reported on the USGS website and/or in Moths of Western North America, #2. Distribution of Sphingidae of
Western North America, revised, an excellent little booklet available through Paul Opler.
This page is inspired by and dedicated to Audrey Morris who sent me the image of the Hyles lineata larva at the top of the page.
Audrey writes, "On your Hyles lineata lineata page, you mention a report from Texas of it feeding on Gaura lindheimerii
in 1996. That's the first time I've seen that mentioned as a food source.
"I have attached a pic (hope this is OK) from May 29, 2007, Westchester, Los Angeles, CA, of a Hyles lineata
lineata feeding on Gaura lindheimerii Siskiyou Pink. There were actually at least 2 of them, maybe 3. Just
today (June 4) I saw 2. I also have 4 o'clocks (which I can't seem to get rid of!), but there are no caterpillars on those.
"Thank you for the site, I read about it on Whats That Bug?"
Please help me develop this list with improved, documented accuracy by sending sightings (species, date, location), preferably with an
image, via email to Bill Oehlke.
Many thanks to Terie Collamer who provides the following image of Sphinx chersis. The dorsal, reddish-brown hue is an indication this caterillar is ready to pupate.
Sphinx chersis final instar, ready to pupate, Los Angeles County, California,
September 22, 2017, courtesy of Terie Collamer, id by Bill Oehlke.
USGS Pink-spotted hawkmoth.
Plants in Convolvulaceae family, especially
Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato) and in Solanaceae family,
especially (Datura) (jimsonweed) and related plants in
Americas. Also a brown form. Look for very large, dark
Called Tomato Hornworms; each has black horn at 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. See bottom of page.
USGS, 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).
Sphinx chersis, September 22, 2017, Terie Collamer
USGS/TC, 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.
USGS, Elegant Sphinx;
Larva has a shield on the first thoracic
segment, which is of the same colour as the body and which forms a
tight-fitting hood over the vertex of the head. This hides a pair of
glossy black spots on top of the head, which are revealed if the
animal is disturbed.
Larvae feed on California juniper (Juniperus californica) and Rocky Mountain juniper (J. osteosperma).
the Snowberry Sphinx
Larvae feed on the common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
and on coralberry (S. orbiculatus).
Note the two golden lines
of slightly raised bumps, one just behind the head, the other on the thorax.
generally more northerly
the Big Poplar Sphinx.
Larvae feed on cottonwood and poplar (Populus) and willow
Larvae are very chunky with little to distinguish them
from Pachysphinx modesta.
Resemble modesta larvae, 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 a pale yellow
Erinnyis crameri, Cramer's Sphinx, USGS.
This species is more likely to occur as an occasional stray rather than as a breeding resident.
As a migrant stray it would be seen later in the season, July-August.
USGS, Ello Sphinx.
Larvae feed on papaya (Carica papaya), Cnidoscolus
angustidens, poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima),
guava (Psidium species) and
saffron plum (Bumelia angustifolia/Bumelia celastrina).
Willow Bustic (Bumelia salicifolia)
and Painted Leaf (Poinsettia heterophylla) are also hosts.
Nice socks! Larvae show considerable variation.
Erinnyis obscura, the Obscure Sphinx,
Larvae probably feed on various plants in the dogbane family
(Apocynaceae): Rauvolfia ligustrina, Rauvolfia tetraphylla,
Stemmadenia obovata, Philibertia, Cynanchum, and on papaya
(Carica papaya, Caricaceae), and Asclepiadaceae.
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
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 and a darker (tan/brown)
form. Note six "segmented" oblique lines.
Arctonotus lucidus USGS, Pacific Green
Sphinx Moth or Bear Sphinx
Larvae feed on evening primrose
(Oenothera dentata var. campestris) and clarkias. David Wikle
fed them on both Mexican evening primrose, Oenothera berlandieri
and evening primrose, Oenothera biennis.
Euproserpinus euterpe, Euterpe Sphinx, WO
Young caterpillars eat flowers, while older caterpillars eat flowers
and new leaves. Larvae feed on Camissonia contorta epilobioides in
the primrose family (Onagraceae).
This species is listed as "threatened" in its known range.
the Phaeton Primrose Sphinx, USGS
Larvae feed on various plants in the primrose family (Onagraceae).
Highly varied, feed on 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 the red/black swellings split by
Proserpinus clarkiae USGS, Clark's Sphinx.
Larvae feed on elegant fairyfan (Clarkia unguiculata) in the evening primrose family (Onagraceae).
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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