Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, September 3, 2011
Updated as per BAMONA, September 3, 2011
Dedicated to Nicole Whitney (Lintneria eremitus, larva, Ashford, September 17, 2016); September 17, 2016

Windham County, Connecticut
Sphingidae

Lintneria eremitus final instar, Ashford, Windham County, Connecticut,
September 17, 2016, courtesy of Nicole Whitney, via Daniel Marlos of
What's That Bug?

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

Thirty-seven Sphingidae species are listed for Connecticut on the U.S.G.S. website (now BAMONA). Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Windham County (as of September 4, 2011, thirty-one species, including non-residents Agrius cingulata, Erinnyis ello and Xylphanes tersa, are reported on BAMONA). Those three species have been reported in the county as adult moths, but they are probably only migrant strays that do not overwinter as pupae. They would be very unlikely encountered as larvae.

This page is dedicated to Nicole Whitney who provides the Lintneria eremitus depicted above.

It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the caterpillars (larvae) you are likely to encounter.

A "WO" after the species name indicates that I have no confirmed reports of this species in your county, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present.

A "BAMONA" indicates the moth is reported in Lepidoptera of North America, #1. Distribution of Silkmoths (Saturniidae) and Hawkmoths (Sphingidae) of Eastern North America, an excellent little booklet available through Paul Opler, or on BAMONA website.

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.

Please also send sightings to BAMONA an excellent online resource for identifying Butterflies and Moths of North America.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Ceratomia amyntor BAMONA, the Elm Sphinx or Four-horned Sphinx. Caterpillars show both brown and green forms and are unmistakeable due to four horns on the thorax (near the head). Larvae feed on Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), and cherry (Prunus).

Ceratomia catalpae WO, the Catalpa Sphinx. This caterpillar is one of the few North American Sphingidae that feed in large groups. Colouration is distinctive.

The larvae are much more spectacular than the moths. Catalpa is the larval host.

Ceratomia undulosa BAMONA, the Waved Sphinx: Note pinkish-orange tail, spiracles outlined in red and cream stripes on head. The dramatic color change from the dorsal yellow-green to the lateral light greyish-blue is not always as intense as in this image.

Dolba hyloeus BAMONA, Pawpaw Sphinx: Note smooth skin, blue-black horn and small black spiracles. Pawpaw is the primary host. Littleleaf sweetfern, possum haw, inkberry, tall gallberry holly and others are also utilized.

Lapara bombycoides BAMONA, Northern Pine Sphinx: This caterpillar is also without the anal horn and feeds on pines.

The long stripes and reddish brown afford great camouflage.

Lapara coniferarum WO, Southern Pine Sphinx: This caterpillar is also without the anal horn and feeds on pines. The long stripes and reddish brown afford great camouflage.

Lintneria eremitus BAMONA/NW, Hermit Sphinx: Note triangular bump on thorax in restnig position. Larval hosts are various species of beebalm (Monarda), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), and sage (Salvia).

Lintneria eremitus, Ashford, September 17, 2016, Nicole Whitney

Manduca jasminearum BAMONA, Ash Sphinx: Larvae feed on ash in the Fraxinus genus. Syringa and Ulmus have also been reported. Note the black anal horn.

Manduca quinquemaculatus BAMONA, Five-spotted Hawkmoth: Note solid black horn; dark spiracular rings. In addition to white oblique lines, there are fainter white rings, especially on back. I suspect if you grow tomatoes, you are likely to encounter it.

Manduca sexta BAMONA, the Carolina Sphinx. Note the red horn and black dots anterior to the white oblique lines.

If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it.

Paratrea plebeja WO, Plebeian Sphinx Larvae feed at night, hiding on underside of stems during day. Common trumpetcreeper (Campsis radicans), Florida yellow-trumpet (Tecoma stans), lilac (Syringa species), and passionflower (Passiflora species). Questionable

Sphinx canadensis WO, Sphinx canadensis, Canadian Sphinx: This species is not common at lights, and is not often reported anywhere. Larval host may be exclusively black ash (Fraxinus nigra). Variable appearance but always with granulous (darker protrusions) on pinkish horn.

Sphinx chersis BAMONA, Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx: Note pale blue horn and the creamy-white stripes on head. The yellow form has a red horn. Ash, lilac, privet, cherry and quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum BAMONA, Wild Cherry Sphinx: Larvae hide in day and feed primarily on cherry, plum, 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.

Sphinx gordius BAMONA, the Apple Sphinx. Larval hosts are apple (Malus), sweetfern (Myrica), Carolina rose (Rosa carolina), blueberry and huckleberry (Vaccinium), white spruce (Picea glauca), American larch (Larix laricina), and alder (Alnus).

Sphinx kalmiae BAMONA, the Laurel Sphinx In the final instar, the black on the head, lateral lines, horn and on abdominal legs is diagnostic.

Larvae feed primarily on lilac and fringe.

Sphinx luscitiosa WO, the Canadian Sphinx or Clemen's Sphinx

This one is reported from Richmond and from northeastern New Jersey into southern Canada.

Sphinx poecila WO, the Poecila Sphinx

If you have blueberries in the woods, then you probably have the Poecila Sphinx.

The green form is more common.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis BAMONA, Walnut Sphinx: Walnut and butternut (Juglans), hickory (Carya), alder (Alnus), beech (Fagus), hazelnut (Corylus), and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya).

Pachysphinx modesta BAMONA, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx.
It is fond of poplars and willows.

Paonias astylus BAMONA, Huckleberry Sphinx. This is a relatively uncommon species in the northeastern states.
Only rarely are they seen in Maine. I never saw one in New Jersey.

Paonias excaecata BAMONA, Blinded Sphinx. Larvae accept willows, birches, cherries. I have also found them in the wild on oak in eastern Canada.

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.

There are varying degrees in the amount of red markings along the sides.

Smerinthus cerisyi WO, 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 head bounded dorsally with pale yellow inverted "V".

Smerinthus jamaicensis BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, Snowberry Clearwing/Bumblebee Moth: Snowberry (Symphoricarpos), honeysuckle (Lonicera), Coralberry, viburnums, Blue Dogbane (Apocynum), dwarf bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera). Horn black; yellow base.

Hemaris gracilis WO, the Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing. Hemaris gracilis is distinguished from similar species by a pair of red-brown bands on the undersides of the thorax, which varies from green to yellow-green dorsally and sometimes brown with white underneath. They have a red abdomen.

Philampelini tribe:

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 pandorus BAMONA, the Pandorus Sphinx. If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you might encounter this species.
Note the five large white ovals. There are orangey-brown and green forms also.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis BAMONA, 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 choerilus BAMONA, the Azalea Sphinx: Azalea and Viburnum and progress very rapidly. The larva to the left on Viburnum cassinoides is getting ready to pupate. Color change from green to light burgundy-brown indicates pupation is imminent.

Darapsa myron BAMONA, Virginia Creeper Sphinx/Grapevine Sphinx: If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this species nearby. Lower wings are orange. Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Grape (Vitis), Ampelopsis, and Viburnum.

Darapsa versicolor BAMONA, Hydrangea Sphinx: Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), and waterwillow (Decodon verticillatus). Note small head which can be retracted into the thorax.

Deidamia inscriptum BAMONA, 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 gallii BAMONA, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx. Larvae come in black and in brown forms and often feed on Epilobium (fireweed).

Hyles lineata BAMONA, White-lined Sphinx: Larvae: highly varied; willow weed (Epilobium), four o'clock (Mirabilis), apple (Malus), evening primrose (Oenothera), elm (Ulmus), grape (Vitis), tomato (Lycopersicon), purslane (Portulaca), Fuschia. Notee 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.

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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