Created, dedicated as per personal communication with Ron Wilson, November, 2007
Updated as per BAMONA, formerly USGS, November 2007
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, August, 2010
Eumorpha fasciatus, Snow Hill, Worcester County, Maryland,
November 2, 2007, courtesy of Ron Wilson.
This page is inspired by and dedicated to Ron Wilson, who sent me the Eumorpha fasciatus image at the top of this page.
Ron writes, "I'm sure you get flooded with requests to ID common species. I'm a botanist and the same thing happens to
me for weedy plants. I'm definitely not an expert in Lepidoptera, so I hope this one doesn't turn out to be the most common species there
is. I'm not even sure it's a moth larva, but that's my guess.
"I've attached a photo of this critter that was taken on 11/2/07. It was resting on a stem of an Asiatic Dayflower
(Commelina communis) in the middle of a thick patch of Porcelain-berry Vine (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata), near the
bank of the Pocomoke River. It was a cool, cloudy, windy day, so the larva was not very active. I'm not sure which of the 2 plants it was
feeding on, or whether it was feeding at all? The Pocomoke River is in Snow Hill, MD. We are on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, between
the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, which is considered the Outer Coastal Plain. I was doing a botanical survey at the time, so
I didn't get a chance to observe the larva for very long."
"I've attached a photo of this critter that was taken on 11/2/07. It was resting on a stem of an Asiatic Dayflower (Commelina communis) in the middle of a thick patch of Porcelain-berry Vine (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata), near the bank of the Pocomoke River. It was a cool, cloudy, windy day, so the larva was not very active. I'm not sure which of the 2 plants it was feeding on, or whether it was feeding at all? The Pocomoke River is in Snow Hill, MD. We are on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, which is considered the Outer Coastal Plain. I was doing a botanical survey at the time, so I didn't get a chance to observe the larva for very long."
I identified the larva for Ron, and he wrote back.
"Thanks for the quick response. In my web searching prior to contacting you, I had actually considered Eumorpha achemon,
briefly, as a possibility, so at least I was on the right track. Apparently the larvae of E. fasciatus are quite variable,
because none of the instars pictured exactly matched my photo. I would assume that my specimen must have been in its last instar,
because of the late date. I checked and this species is not listed as being rare on Maryland's RTE list, so I'm guessing it's pretty common?
"I also noticed on your website that you list Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Grape (Vitis spp.), and
Possum Grape (Cissus verticillata) as larval food plants. These are all in the Grape family (Vitaceae), so that makes me
reasonably sure that my specimen was feeding on the Porcelain-berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata), which is also in the Grape
family. We also have 3 common Ludwigia species (L. alternifolia, L. palustris, and L. sphaerocarpa) in
this area, but none were growing in the vicinity of the larva I photographed."
"I also noticed on your website that you list Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Grape (Vitis spp.), and Possum Grape (Cissus verticillata) as larval food plants. These are all in the Grape family (Vitaceae), so that makes me reasonably sure that my specimen was feeding on the Porcelain-berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata), which is also in the Grape family. We also have 3 common Ludwigia species (L. alternifolia, L. palustris, and L. sphaerocarpa) in this area, but none were growing in the vicinity of the larva I photographed."
Yes, the Eumorpha fasciatus larvae can be quite variable, and I suspect Ron is right about the larvae feeding on Ampelopsis brevipedunculata.
Twenty Sphingidae species are listed for Maryland on the U.S.G.S. website as of August 2007. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Worcester County (none are reported on U.S.G.S. as of November 2007). It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the caterpillars you are likely to encounter.
A "WO" after the species name indicates that I (William Oehlke) expect that this species is present or might be present. I have added quite a few species to the Maryland list.
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.
Visit Worcester County, Maryland, Sphingidae: Adult Moths.
Visit Maryland Catocala: Underwing Moths.
Agrius cingulata, WO, Pink-spotted hawkmoth: Larvae feed on plants in Convolvulaceae family: Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato); in Solanaceae family:, (Datura) (jimsonweed) and related plants. There is also a brown form. Look for very large, dark spiracular circles.
Ceratomia amyntor WO, Elm Sphinx; 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, 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 WO, Waved Sphinx:
Note the pinkish-orange tail, spiracles outlined in red and the cream stripes on the head.
Dolba hyloeus WO, Pawpaw Sphinx: Note the 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 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 WO, Hermit Sphinx: Note triangular bump on the thorax. Larval hosts are various species of beebalm (Monarda), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), and sage (Salvia).
Manduca jasminearum WO, 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, Five-spotted Hawkmoth: Note the solid black horn and dark spiracular rings. In addition to the white oblique lines, there are fainter white rings, especially on the back. I suspect if you grow tomatoes, you are likely to encounter it.
Manduca rustica WO, Rustic Sphinx: Note the green horn, raised white bumps and strong dark lines anterior to the white ones. unlikely possibillity, generally further south
Manduca sexta WO, 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 the underside of stems during the day. Preferred hosts are common trumpetcreeper (Campsis radicans), Florida yellow-trumpet (Tecoma stans), lilac (Syringa species), and passionflower (Passiflora species).
Sphinx chersis WO, Northern Ash Sphinx; Great Ash Sphinx: Note pale blue horn and the creamy-white stripes on head. The yellow form has a red horn. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry and quaking aspen.
Sphinx drupiferarum WO, Wild Cherry Sphinx: Larvae hide in the day and feed primarily on cherry, plum, and 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 franckii WO, Franck's Sphinx Moth: Larvae feed exclusively on various species of ash (Fraxinus). Raised, pointed bumps, especially near the head and thorax give this caterpillar a reptilian appearance.
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).
Sphinx kalmiae WO, 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.
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 astylus WO, Huckleberry Sphinx: Blueberry and huckleberry (Vaccinium), cherries (Prunus) and willows (Salix) are the favorites as larval foodplants.
Paonias excaecata WO, Blinded Sphinx: Larvae accept willows, birches, and cherries. I have also found them in the wild on oak in eastern Canada.
Paonias myops WO, 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 jamaicensis WO, 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.
Hemaris thysbe WO, 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 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, Slender Clearwing; 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.
Eumorpha achemon WO, 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 RW, Banded Sphinx: Larvae feed upon primrose-willow, Ludwigia (water primrose) and other plants in the evening primrose family (Onagraceae). Grape family members also serve as larval hosts.
Eumorpha pandorus WO, 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.
Amphion floridensis WO, 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 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. The lower wings are orange. Larvae feed on Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Grape (Vitis), Ampelopsis, and Viburnum.
Darapsa versicolor WO, Hydrangea Sphinx: Larvae feed on Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), and waterwillow (Decodon verticillatus). Note small head which can be retracted into the thorax.
Deidamia inscriptum WO, 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 lineata WO, White-lined Sphinx: 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 dorso-lateral lines.
Sphecodina abbottii WO, 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 WO, Tersa Sphinx: Larvae 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.
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