Broward County, Florida
Sphingidae Larva

Manduca rustica, Davie, Broward County, Florida,
June 26, 2007, courtesy of Donnette Reid Williams.

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 Donnette Reid Williams who came across the Manduca rustica caterpillar depicted at top of page. Donnette writes, "I found your website and was curious if you would be able to identify my caterpillars. We are in Davie, Florida (Broward) and they are currently residing on my potted patio gardenia bush. I think that they are Rustic Sphinx, but I am not 100% sure. Thanks."

Sixty-five Sphingidae species are listed for Florida on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Broward County (Twelve species are reported on U.S.G.S.). It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the Sphingidae larvae you are likely to encounter as larvae.

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

A "USGS" indicates the moth is reported on the USGS website and/or 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.

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.

The night-blooming moon flower will attract many Sphingidae at dusk and into the night.

Many thanks also to Kelli Whitney who has sent many images/sightings from Broward County.

Erinnyis ello, Broward County, Florida, courtesy of Kelli Whitney,
Park Naturalist II, Long Key Nature Center, Broward County Parks and Recreation.

Kelli, who had earlier sent an image seeking id confirmation of a female E. ello, writes, I had originally sent this email on Sept. 17th seeking an i.d. confirmation. I believe I may have confirmed my own i.d. I found this handsome devil decimating my painted leaf in the oak hammock behind the nature center. When I first saw him he had a dark eyespot exposed (probably because I had a group of 15 people with me and we were all gawking at him.) When I came back later with the camera, it wasnít really visible any more. Canít wait for him to complete his metamorphosis. Maybe Iíll finally get to see a male."

Thanks also to Chris Marino from Pompano Beach who sent me great images of Pachylia ficus, showing the oblique lines on the sides of this caterpillar.

Pachylia ficus, Pompano Beach, April 12, 2007, courtesy of Chris Marino.

Jennifer Rush sends the following image which she identified as Erinnyis alope. I think she is correct, but I cannot rule out E. ello. The host plant, frangipani, would be a new one for either species.

Erinnyis alope fifth instar on frangipani, Broward County, Florida,
May 24, 2014, courtesy of Jennifer Rush.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, WO Pink-spotted hawkmoth: Plants in Convolvulaceae family, Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato); in Solanaceae family, (Datura) (jimsonweed) and related plants. Also a brown form. Look for very large, dark spiracular circles.

Ceratomia catalpae WO, Catalpa Sphinx: Young caterpillars feed gregariously on Catalpa species (Catalpa bignoniodes, C. speciosa) in Bignoniaceae family, skeletonizing foliage. Larvae are mostly white in early instars.
generally more eastern species

Ceratomia undulosa WO, Waved Sphinx: Fraxinus, Ligustrum, Quercus, Crataegus and Chionanthus virginicus are listed as hosts.

In the fifth instar, the spiracular ovals are decidedly red and the anal horn is off-white to pinkish laterally.

Cocytius antaeus, USGS Giant Sphinx: Very large. In last instars, uniform green with adark purple center back line and very sharp white posterior side slash with some dark green on both sides of it.

Dolba hyloeus USGS, the Pawpaw Sphinx
Larvae feed on pawpaw (Asimina triloba), littleleaf sweetfern (Myrica aspleniifolia), possum haw (Ilex decidua), and inkberry (Ilex glabra) as well as Tall Gallberry Holly (Ilex coriacea). Louis Handfield reports larvae probably feed on Ilex verticellata in Quebec.

Isoparce cupressi USGS, Cypress or Baldcypress Sphinx. Larvae feed on needles of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) at night and pupate in shallow underground burrows where second generation overwinters.

Lapara coniferarum USGS, Southern Pine Sphinx: Various pine species, including loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) and longleaf pine (P. pinaster). They are well camouflaged and are without an anal horn.

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, 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).

Manduca rustica USGS/DRW, Rustic Sphinx: Numerous white nodules on top of thorax; seven pairs of oblique, blue-gray stripes along side of body. Horn white at base, blue-gray at tip. Many hosts are utilized.

Manduca sexta WO, 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).

Smerinthini Tribe:

Paonias excaecata WO, the Blinded Sphinx

Larvae accept willows, birches, and cherries. I have also found them in the wild on oak in eastern Canada.

The skin is very granulose.

Paonias myops WO, the Small-eyed Sphinx

The larvae depicted is probably third instar.

There may be more red spotting on the sides as larvae mature.

Protambulyx strigilis USGS, Streaked Sphinx: Larvae found on Schinus terebinthefolia. Later instars hide at base of leaf or near base of tree's trunk when not feeding (all larvae were found on saplings). Early instar larvae have extremely pointed head capsules, and sometimes have difficulty shedding.

Pseudosphinx tetrio, the Tetrio Sphinx, USGS

The brightly coloured caterpillar is easy to find in gardens. The larva are big and colourful and easily identified.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos tantalus WO, the Tantalus Sphinx.

Larvae feed on seven year apple, Casasia clusiifolia, and probably other plants in the madder family. They have been reported on Indigo-berry (Randia aculeata).

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

Callionima parce WO, the Parce sphinx

may or may not be present in Broward County. Sorry, no larval image available at this time.

Enyo lugubris, the Mournful Sphinx, WO

The body and wings are dark brown. The forewing has a large black patch covering most of the outer half of the wing. There is a pale tan cell spot (dark inner pupil), and a fairly straight median line to the inside of the cell spot.

Erinnyis alope WO, the Alope Sphinx. Larvae have several forms and feed on papaya (Carica papaya), nettlespurge (Jatropha), and allamanda (Allamanda).

Erinnyis crameri, the Cramer's Sphinx, WO

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

Erinnyis ello WO/KW, 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), Painted Leaf (Poinsettia heterophylla). Nice socks! Very variable.

Erinnyis ello larva, September, 2008, Kelli Whitney

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

Hemaris thysbe USGS, 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 WO, 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, Slender Clearwing; Graceful Clearwing: Larval foods are blueberries including low bush blueberry (Vaccinium vacillans), and laurel (Kalmia), all in the heath family (Ericaceae).

Madoryx pseudothyreus USGS, the False-windowed Sphinx

Females probably lay eggs on evening primrose (Onagraceae). In Florida larvae have been found on Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans). Sorry, no image available at this time.

Pachylia ficus, Fig Sphinx, USGS/CM: 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, Artocarpus integrifolia. Extremely variable. Green form has oblique lateral lines. The few images that have been sent to me for identification help are usually as per upper image.

Phryxus caicus, the Caicus Sphinx, USGS: Mesechites trifida, probably on other members of Apocynaceae (Dogbane family: Echites). Mangrove rubber vine (Rhabdadenia biflora).

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, 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.

Eumorpha fasciatus USGS, Banded Sphinx: Primrose-willow, Ludwigia (water primrose), other plants in evening primrose family. Highly variable. Large, dark spiracular circles and dark line in center of back. See image at bottom of this page.

Eumorpha labruscae USGS, Gaudy Sphinx: Striking resemblance to snake's head and eye, and flattening of thoracic segments when head is not retracted. Possum Vine (Cissus sicyoides). Cissus incisa, Cissus verticillata, Eupatorium odoratum, Ludwigia, Magnolia, Parthenocissus and Vitis vinifera are all reported hosts.

Eumorpha pandorus WO, Pandorus Sphinx: If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you might encounter this species. Note five large white ovals. Orangey-brown and green forms also.

Eumorpha vitis WO, Vine Sphinx: Grape (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:

Amphion floridensis USGS, Nessus Sphinix: In additon to Virginia creeper larvae accept Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), and cayenne pepper (Capsicum). Larvae are green until the final instar.

Cautethia grotei WO, Grote's Sphinx. Rare in U.S., but there are sightings (mostly of adult moths) in east from Florida, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire. David's milkberry/snowberry (Chiococca alba) in madder family (Rubiaceae); also found on black torch (Erithalis fruiticosa), Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus).

Darapsa choerilus WO, Azalea Sphinx: Larvae feed on 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 WO, Virginia Creeper Sphinx; Grapevine Sphinx: If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this species nearby. Lower wings orange. Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Grape (Vitis), Ampelopsis, Viburnum.

Darapsa versicolor USGS, Hydrangea Sphinx: Larvae turn a deep chocolate brown just prior to pupation, and the "horn" on the tail also turns downward as pupation draws near. Darapsa versicolor larvae feed on Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), and waterwillow (Decodon verticillatus).

Hyles lineata USGS, White-lined Sphinx: Highly varied; 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 dorso-lateral lines.

Sphecodina abbottii WO, Abbott's Sphinx: Feed at night on grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis); hide on bark 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.

Xylophanes pluto USGS/KW, Pluto Sphinx: Milkberry (Chiococca species), Firebush (Hamelia patens), Indian Mulberry (Morinda royoc), Erythroxylon. Three known colour morphs: green, brown, and purple/brown.

Xylophanes pluto (green form) on firebush, Kelli Whitney, Park Naturalist II, Long Key Nature Centre, August 30, 2009.

Xylophanes porcus WO stray, Porcus Sphinx: The upperside of the forewing is olive-brown with lighter brown along the outer margin. The upperside of the hindwing is brown with some paler spots.

Xylophanes tersa WO, Tersa Sphinx: Borreria, Catalpa and Manettia spp. and Smooth buttonplant (Spermacoce glabra), starclusters (Pentas species). Joe-pie weed, Hamelia patens, Hedoydis nigricans. Green form may be more common.

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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.

Enjoy some of nature's wonderments: Saturniidae cocoons. Cocoons of the giant silkmoths may be purchased in the fall and winter. Big and beautiful giant silk moths will emerge in spring/summer. Read Actias luna rearing article. Additional online help available.