Dedicated/Updated as per personal communication with Laurie Rountree, September 25, 2011
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, September 9, 2010

Waldo County, southern Maine
Sphingidae

Hyles gallii, Stockton Springs, Waldo County, Maine,
September 25, 2011, courtesy of Laurie Rountree;
numerous oblong, white, parasitoid eggs on thoracic segments, Bill Oehlke.

This page is dedicated to Laurie Rountree who provides the image of an Hyles gallii larva at top of this page.

Laurie writes, "I found a 5th instar larva today in Waldo County, Stockton Springs, ME. It is large and very heavy. I could send photo if you like but there is no question as to identity (Hyles gallii). I am planning to release it in the area it was found since I don't know the food source here, and I believe it is ready to pupate (based on it's size and strength).

"I raise and release Monarchs but am not into moths much. Would this guy hurt me if I handled it? Does the single horn sting? Thank you."

I reply, "Hi Laurie,

"The larva is harmless. I would like to receive a digital image and post the image, credited to you, to Waldo County page? The horn does not sting. They feed on Epilobium (fireweed), but it is probably done feeding and is looking for a pupation site."

"I took him back to where I found him. He was frantic. I took a photo, but the larva was on my counter and picture is not worthy of publishing, but I wanted to let you know the area where he was found. I looked up fireweed and don't recall seeing any around here. I am sorry for jumping the gun and not waiting for your reply. He was crossing the road when I found him so hopefully he goes in the other direction now."

"Thanks Laurie. They also feed on Gallium. Unfortunately this larva has numerous parasitoid eggs on its thoracic segments. It will never become an adult moth. Many butterfly and moth larvae found in the wild have been parasitized."

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

Thirty-eight Sphingidae species are listed for Maine on the Bamona website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Waldo County (Two are reported as of September 9, 2010, on BAMONA).

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.

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 your sightings to BAMONA, an excellent online resource.

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 undulosa WO, the Waved Sphinx

Note the pinkish-orange tail, spiracles outlined in red and the cream stripes on the 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 WO, the 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 bombycoides WO, the Northern 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, the Hermit Sphinx

Note triangular bump on the thorax.

Larval hosts are various species of beebalm (Monarda), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), and sage (Salvia).

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, the 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.

Sphinx canadensis WO, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx.
This species is not common at lights, and is not often reported anywhere, but is present in Kennebec County.
Larval host may be exclusively black ash (Fraxinus nigra). Variable appearance but always with granulous horn.

Sphinx chersis WO, the 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. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry and quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, the 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 kalmiae WO, 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

Larval hosts are willow (Salix), poplar (Populus), birch (Betula), apple (Malus), ash (Fraxinus), waxmyrtle (Morella), and northern bayberry.

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 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
This moth is not officially recorded in Kennebec County. It is fond of poplars and willows and is most likely present.

Paonias astylus WO, the Huckleberry Sphinx
It would be more common to the south and is a relatively uncommon species.
Only rarely are they seen in Maine. Blueberry and huckleberry (Vaccinium), cherries (Prunus) and willows (Salix) are favorite larval foodplants.

Paonias excaecata USGS, the 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, 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.

Smerinthus cerisyi WO, Cerisy's Sphinx; Cerisyi larvae greatly resemble modesta larvae, both pale green, with granular skin, pale lateral diagonal lines, faint red spiracular circles, very pale longitudinal lines running from the head to a more pronounced anal diagonal line. Larvae have green heads bounded dorsally with pale yellow inverted "V".

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Hemaris thysbe WO, 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, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth. Host plants: Snowberry (Symphoricarpos), honeysuckle (Lonicera), Coralberry, viburnums, Blue Dogbane (Apocynum) and dwarf bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera). Horn is black with a 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. unlikely

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, 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 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 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, 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 LR, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

Larvae come in black and in brown forms and often feed on Epilobium (fireweed).

Hyles gallii, Stockton Springs, Waldo County, Maine,
September 25, 2011, courtesy of Laurie Rountree

Hyles lineata WO, 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.

Proserpinus flavosfasciata WO, Yellow-banded Day Sphinx: Penultimate instar pale green with pair of pale, dorsolateral lines running from head to base of short caudal horn. Last instar brown-black with numerous black dots; caudal horn replaced by black button.

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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