Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Pete Dunkelberg, November 8, 2008
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, November 1, 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Shay Grech (Eumorpha fasciatus), November 1, 2010

Orange County, Florida
Sphingidae Larva

Eumorpha fasciatus on Mikania scandens, Hal Scott Nature Preserve, Orange County, Florida,
November 8, 2008, courtesy of Pete Dunkelberg.

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 Pete Dunkelberg. Pete found the Eumorpha fasciatus caterpillar depicted above.

Pete writes, "Hi Bill,

"In a few minutes a new post will be up at The Panda's Thumb featuring Eumorpha fasciatus and a larva photo of mine. I will add a small comment drawing attention to thermoregulation. However I am not especially knowledgeable about Eumorpha fasciatus.

"I would be very happy if you and /or others you know would add comments on the biology of the species. Do you know anything about the eggs or survival of very small larvae? Do the instars go through regular color changes? What is known about dispersal or migration? Are there some parts of the range where there is annual migration based on the dry vs rainy season?

"I suspect that if people who know the moth from different countries compare notes some interesting differences will come to light."

I visited Pete's posting and wrote back. "Very nice image of Eumorpha fasciatus. The species is a big migrator. This is the first time I have read of them feeding on Mikania scandens. Usually they feed on members of the Onagraceae family. Sightings in Canada are extremely rare and probably occur in the fall. They are likely wind assisted strays." I also requested additional information regarding date and location of sighting, which Pete provided.

Pete added that he did not observe the larva feeding on Mikania scandens. "It was definitely on Mikania scandens, but thatís a scrambling vine that was mixed with other plants. I didnít watch long enough to see exactly what it ate."

The individual species file for Eumorpha fasciatus shows dramatic changes in the appearance of the larvae as they pass through the different instars. The species also exhibits different forms in the larval stage. I suspect the larva was feeding on oneof the water primroses and the scandens vine just offered a bridge to "greener" foliage.

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

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 Orange County (Eighteen species are reported on U.S.G.S. as of December 30, 2008. Please do not interpret this as a criticism of the U.S.G.S. data. Their mandate is accuracy; mine is help. Their data from surrounding areas has greatly assisted me in assembling this tentative checklist.) It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the Sphingidae larvae you are likely to encounter.

A "WO" after the species name indicates that I have no confirmed reports of this species in Orange County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present. I am not always able to do an id without a picture.

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.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, USGS Pink-spotted hawkmoth. Plants in Convolvulaceae family, Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato); in Solanaceae family, especially (Datura) (jimsonweed), related plants. There is also a brown form. Look for very large, dark spiracular circles.

Ceratomia amyntor WO, the Elm Sphinx or Four-horned Sphinx. Larvae feed on Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), and cherry (Prunus). There are both green and brown forms. The four horns near the head are diagnostic. (unlikely, more northerly)

Ceratomia catalpae WO, Catalpa Sphinx. Young caterpillars feed gregariously on Catalpa species (Catalpa bignoniodes and C. speciosa) in the Bignoniaceae family, skeletonizing the foliage.

Larvae are mostly white in early instars.

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, WO Giant Sphinx. Mature caterpillars are very large. 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. (unlikely in larval stage, possible adult stray)

Dolba hyloeus USGS, 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, the Southern Pine Sphinx. Larvae feed upon various pine species, including loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) and longleaf pine (P. pinaster). They are well camouflaged and are without an anal horn.

Manduca jasminearum WO, the Ash Sphinx. Larvae feed on ash in the Fraxinus genus. Syringa and Ulmus have also been reported.

Note the black anal horn.

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, 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).

Manduca rustica USGS, the Rustic Sphinx. Larva has numerous white nodules on top of thorax and seven pairs of oblique, blue-gray stripes along side of body. Horn is white at base and blue-gray at tip. Many hosts are utilized.

Manduca sexta USGS, 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).

Paratrea plebeja USGS, Plebeian Sphinx. Preferred hosts are common trumpetcreeper (Campsis radicans), Florida yellow-trumpet (Tecoma stans), lilac (Syringa species), and passionflower (Passiflora species). The anal horn is blue, preceded by a yellow dash.

Sphinx gordius WO, 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).

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO, Walnut Sphinx. Amorpha juglandis larvae feed upon Walnut and butternut (Juglans), hickory (Carya), alder (Alnus), beech (Fagus), hazelnut (Corylus), and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya).

Paonias excaecata WO, 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 WO, Streaked Sphinx: Larvae have been found on S. 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 capsules. (generally more southerly)

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Enyo lugubris, the Mournful Sphinx, USGS. 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 USGS, Alope Sphinx. Larvae have several forms and feed on papaya (Carica papaya), nettlespurge (Jatropha), and allamanda (Allamanda).

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

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

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. (unlikely, more southerly)

Phryxus caicus, the Caicus Sphinx, USGS. Larvae feed on Mesechites trifida and probably on other members of Apocynaceae (Dogbane family: Echites). Larvae have been reported on mangrove rubber vine (Rhabdadenia biflora). (unlikely in larval stage, more southerly)

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, 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 PD/ USGS/SG, 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.

Eumorpha fasciatus larva, November 8, 2008, Pete Dunkelberg
Eumorpha fasciatus larva and pupa, Orlando, courtesy of Shay Grech

Eumorpha intermedia WO, Intermediate Sphinx. Eumorpha intermedia larvae feed upon peppervine, Ampelopsis arborea. Possibly they will also accept grape (Vitis species), but so far no records of that host have been reported to my knowledge. They like to remain well hidden within tangle of vines and probably feed mostly at night.

Eumorpha labruscae WO, Gaudy Sphinx. Striking resemblance to snake's head and eye, and flattening of thoracic segments when head is not retracted. Larvae feed on Possum Vine (Cissus sicyoides). Cissus incisa, Cissus verticillata, Eupatorium odoratum, Ludwigia, Magnolia, Parthenocissus and Vitis vinifera are also utilized. (unlikely, more southerly)

Eumorpha pandorus USGS, 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.

Eumorpha vitis WO, 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. (unlikely, more southerly)

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis USGS, 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 USGS, the 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, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx.

If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this species nearby. The lower wings are orange. Larvae feed on Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Grape (Vitis), Ampelopsis, and Viburnum.

Darapsa versicolor WO, the 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, 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.

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. (unlikely, more northerly)

Xylophanes pluto WO, the Pluto Sphinx. Larvae feed on Milkberry (Chiococca species), Firebush (Hamelia patens), Indian Mulberry (Morinda royoc) and Erythroxylon species. There are three known colour morphs: green, brown, and purple/brown. (unlikely, more southerly)

Xylophanes tersa USGS, the Tersa Sphinx. Larvae also feed on Borreria, Catalpa and Manettia spp. and Smooth buttonplant (Spermacoce glabra) and starclusters (Pentas species). They are also recorded on joe-pie weed and Hamelia patens and on Hedoydis nigricans. The green form may be more common.

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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