Inspired by and dedicated to Gary McClellan (Manduca rustica, July 19, 2014); July 24, 2014
Updated as per BAMONA, formerly USGS, July 24, 2014
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 24, 2014

Sarasota County, Florida
Sphingidae Larva

Manduca rustica on Duranta, Sarasota, Sarasota County, Florida,
July 19, 2014, courtesy of Gary McClellan

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 Gary McClellan, who provides the Manduca rustica images, depicted above and below.

Gary writes, "Yesterday I posted four pics to bugguide. This cat is a good four inches. A friend found it feeding on Duranta. Overnight it fed on cuttings I brought home with me. This morning I was amazed at the color change. I purchased a one gallon potted Duranta. Within fifteen minutes of transferring the cat, it burrowed below the soil. Went looking for more info and found your site. Also saw referrals to you on other sites.

"Is the overnight color change an indication?"

Manduca rustica prepupal, Sarasota, Sarasota County, Florida,
July 19, 2014, courtesy of Gary McClellan

I reply, "Thanks for thinking of me, Gary. The colour change takes place in many species just prior to pupation. Perhaps the darkening gives them a camouflaging advantage as they crawl down plant trunks or are excavating their tunnels/burrows in the soil." (Bill Oehlke)

On August 16, Gary adds, "Hi Bill,
"Yesterday morning I found this already emerged. Nice size hole underneath the host plant. After a few pics I set the moth free. Here’s a couple if you want to add."

Manduca rustica, Sarasota, Sarasota County, Florida,
August 15, 2014, Gary McClellan.

Sixty-six Sphingidae species are listed for Florida on the BAMONA website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Sarasota County (Sixteen species are reported on BAMONA as of July 24, 2014). 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 Sarasota County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present.

A "BAMONA" indicates the moth is reported on the BAMONA 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.

Visit Sarasota County Sphingidae: Adult Moths

Visit Forida Catocala: Underwing Moths

Cautethia grotei Grote's sphinx Hyles lineata White-lined Sphinx

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, WO 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 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.

Ceratomia catalpae WO, the 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.
generally more eastern species

Ceratomia undulosa BAMONA, the 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 The 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.

Dolba hyloeus BAMONA, 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 WO, 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 WO, 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 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 GM, 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 rustica, Sarasota, July 19, 2014, Gary McClellan

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).

Paratrea plebeja BAMONA, the 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 chersis WO, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx: The larvae are pale bluish green. The head has a pair of yellow lateral bands meeting at the apex. The oblique, lateral stripes are pale and bordered anteriorly with a darker green. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx gordius WO, 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).

Smerinthini Tribe:

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

Pachysphinx modesta WO, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

Larvae feed on poplars and cottonwood.

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.

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, 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.

Protambulyx strigilis BAMONA, Streaked Sphinx: Larvae have been found on Schinus terebinthefolia. Listed as carteri on BAMONA. 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; sometimes have difficulty shedding head capsules.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos tantalus BAMONA, 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).

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

Erinnyis obscura, 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 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 WO, Snowberry Clearwing; or Bumblebee Moth: Larval host plants include 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

Larval foods are blueberries including low bush blueberry (Vaccinium vacillans), and laurel (Kalmia), all in the heath family (Ericaceae).

Madoryx pseudothyreus BAMONA, 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, the Fig Sphinx, USGS: 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, USGS

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

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 BAMONA, Banded Sphinx: 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 labruscae WO, the Gaudy Sphinx: There is a striking resemblance to a snake's head and eye, and a flattening of the thoracic segments when the head is not retracted. In Florida larvae have been found on Possum Vine (Cissus sicyoides). Cissus incisa, Cissus verticillata, Eupatorium odoratum, Ludwigia, Magnolia, Parthenocissus, Vitis vinifera.

Eumorpha pandorus WO, 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, 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:

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.

Cautethia grotei BAMONA, 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. Larvae feed on David's milkberry/snowberry (Chiococca alba) in madder family (Rubiaceae); black torch (Erithalis fruiticosa); Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus).

Darapsa choerilus WO, 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 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.

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.

Xylophanes tersa CS/YA/RG, 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.

Xylophanes pluto USGS, 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.

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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