Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, September 16, 2008

Goodhue County, Minnesota
Sphingidae Larvae

Eumorpha pandorus, Red Wing, Goodhue County, Minnesota,
September 13, 2008, courtesy of Terri Leeson.

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 Terri Leeson who found the Eumorpha pandorus larva, depicted top and bottom of this page.

Terri writes, "We found this caterpillar in Red Wing, Goodhue County, Minnesota on September 13th. He was on a boulder by a natural spring pond. We brought him home to Hudson, WI, and he seems fairly happy now that I know what to feed him. I was thinking of bringing him into my daughters 1st Grade class so the student could see how big he is and then show them what he will turn into. I think he is in his 5th stage and was wondering how long until he possibly pupates. What should I do for him at this point and what are my chances that he will survive to become the Pandorus Sphinx Moth? If my chances are slim, I would rather not introduce him to the class and would rather just try at home."

I replied:


"Sorry for the late response. Thanks for sending images. Your sighting slightly extends the known northern range for this species in southeastern Minnesota. The larva appears healthy. I cannot see any parasitic wasp or fly entry wounds. It should pupate within a week as it appears nearly full grown. Yes, it is in its fifth and final stage (instar). When it leaves the foliage and starts crawling around bottom of container, it is looking for soil in which to pupate. Under natural conditions, the larva digs a subterranean chamber, sheds its skin one last time to form a pupa, and then remains underground for the winter in a dormant stage called diapause.

"When days get longer and warmer in spring/summer, the pupa pushes its way toward the surface and then the moth emerges (ecloses) probably in July. Best of luck.

"You do not need to provide soil. Put a layer of paper towels in a sandwich sized tupperware/gladware plastic tub, lid on tight, no air holes. The larva will crawl under the paper towels and pupate in four or five days after it is done feeding. There should not be any foliage in the tub, just the larva and the toweling.

The caterpillar will shrivel and sweat considerable before it pupates, and you may even think it is dying. In mid October you will need to put it into cold storage for the winter. I store my Saturniidae cocoons and Sphingidae pupae over the winter in the refrigerator crisper, where a "normal" person would keep lettuce, celery, etc.

"I think you have a good chance of seeing the moth emerge in summer.

"I would like permission to post images with credit to you on a larval thumbnail page I will create for Goodhue County?"

"Thanks for getting back to me. Yes, you have my permission to post images and credit me.

Here are some new pictures (bottom of page) from Sunday, September 14th, only one day later. He started to change color and appeared less active and not very hungry. He would crawl to the top of the butterfly cage and walk around the rim. I think he wanted out to find some dirt. I did put him in a little tub and added more leaves for him to eat. He didnít eat and just crawled out of the tub and around and then under the leaves, but not back in the tub. He didnít seam to be interested in it.

On the web site it mentions the tub or bucket without dirt, but nothing about adding paper towels. He wasnít looking very well to me so on Monday evening September 15th, I put dirt in the tub and gave him some fresh leaves. It took less than an hour and he was more than Ĺ into the dirt. I sent a picture of the container he is in now. Will he be ok? Should I wait a few days and remove him from the dirt? When should I put him in the refrigerator?"

The container he is in now is fine. He also would have pupated under the paper towels in the plastic tub without the dirt. I recommend you wait at least a week before disturbing the soil. When the pupa is first formed, it is extremely soft. After a week or so, the pupal shell will have hardened sufficiently for handling. The moth will not emerge until spring. You don't need to refrigerate the pupa until at least middle of October.

Read Overwintering cocoons and pupae.

To access the pupa for storage, take the container outside, tilt it slightly, tap to loosen the soil and begin excavating carefully with a spoon from the lowest upper soil surface. As more and more soil falls into your excavation hole, remove same and continue digging until you have unearthed the pupa. It can then be relocated to the sandwich sized or smaller storage tub as per instructions on website linked above. You can take the pupa out of cold storage in the spring for an early summer eclosion.

Only twelve Sphingidae species are listed for Minnesota on the U.S.G.S. website. None are reported in Goodhue County on USGS as of September 16, 2008. It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths/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. I have included many species not on the USGS list for Minnesota; I believe they are or might be present. Goodhue County is right on the range border (Tuttle's maps) for many species listed as maybe.

A "USGS" 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.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Ceratomia amyntor WO, Elm Sphinx, Four-horned Sphinx: Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), cherry (Prunus). Both green and brown forms. Four horns near the head are diagnostic.

Ceratomia catalpae WO, Catalpa Sphinx: Feed in large groups. Colouration is distinctive. Larvae much more spectacular than moths. Catalpa .

Ceratomia undulosa WO, Waved Sphinx: Fraxinus, Ligustrum, Quercus, Crataegus, Chionanthus virginicus.

Spiracular ovals are decidedly red and anal horn is off-white to pinkish laterally.

Lapara bombycoides WO, 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, Hermit Sphinx: Note triangular bump on the thorax. Beebalm (Monarda), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), and sage (Salvia).

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, Five-spotted Hawkmoth: Tomato Hornworms: black horn at the end of the abdomen. Larvae feed on potato, tobacco, tomato, and other plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).

Manduca sexta WO, the Carolina Sphinx

Note the red horn and black dots anterior to the white oblique lines.

If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it. maybe

Sphinx canadensis WO, Canadian Sphinx: Uncommon at lights, not often reported. Larval host may be exclusively black ash (Fraxinus nigra). Variable appearance but always with granulous (darker protrusions) on pinkish horn.

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 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 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).

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 poecila WO, the Poecila Sphinx

If you have blueberries in the woods, then you probably have the Poecila Sphinx.

They are probably widespread throughout Wisconsin, but are very much under reported. maybe

Sphinx vashti WO, the Snowberry Sphinx

Larvae feed on the common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) and on coralberry (S. orbiculatus).

Note the two golden lines of slightly raised bumps, one just behind the head, the other on the thorax.

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.

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

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.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

See Hemaris comparisons.

Hemaris diffinis WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth
Larval host plants include Snowberry (Symphoricarpos), honeysuckle (Lonicera), Coralberry, viburnums, Blue Dogbane (Apocynum) and dwarf bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera). Horn is black with a yellow base.

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.

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 pandorus TL, 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. reported in Goodhue Co.

Eumorpha pandorus fifth instar, Red Wing, September 13, 2008,
courtesy of Terri Leeson
Eumorpha pandorus fifth instar, south side of Memorial Bluff in Red Wing,
September 7, 2008, Heather Flueger

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.

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 euphorbiae WO, Leafy Spurge Hawk Moth Larvae feed on leafy spurge. Larvae are also conspicuously colored, with a pronounced tail or "horn" near rear end. Young larvae are variously patterned with green, yellow, and black; older larvae have distinctive red, black, yellow, and white color pattern. Mature larvae may approach 10 cm in length; when disturbed, they regurgitate a slimy green liquid. maybe

Hyles gallii WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is not reported in Chippewa, but it has been recorded in eastern Wisconsin counties. I suspect it is present.
Larvae come in black and in brown forms and often feed on Epilobium (fireweed).

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.

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.

Eumorpha pandorus, Red Wing, Goodhue County, Minnesota,
September 13, 2008, courtesy of Terri Leeson.

Eumorpha pandorus, Red Wing, Goodhue County, Minnesota,
September 13, 2008, courtesy of Terri Leeson.

Eumorpha pandorus, prepupal larva, Red Wing, Goodhue County, Minnesota,
September 14, 2008, courtesy of Terri Leeson.

Eumorpha pandorus, pupation tub, Red Wing, Goodhue County, Minnesota,
September 14, 2008, courtesy of Terri Leeson.

Many Sphingidae larvae will darken just prior to pupation. The tub of soil that Terri has provided also works well. The tub of dirt would also be a suitable storage container for the winter months, but it needs to be kept cold.

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Please send sightings/images to Bill. I will do my best to respond to requests for identification help.