Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Rebecca Biddle, August 24, 2010
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, August 26, 2010
Updated as per Butterflies and Moths of North America, formerly USGS, August 26, 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Lisa Edwards, August 31, 2013

Hoke County, North Carolina
Sphingidae Larvae

Manduca rustica, Raeford, Hoke County, North Carolina,
August 24, 2010, courtesy of Rebecca Biddle.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Rebecca Biddle who sent me the image of a Manduca rustica caterpillar in Raeford, Hoke County, August 26, 2010.

Rebecca writes, "August 29, 2010: when we checked on the caterpillar this morning (affectionately named "Steve"), he was lying on his side on the bottom of his container. His body had darkened along his back, becoming a reddish brown color. When we prodded him, he became active and started frantically crawling all around the bottom of his container, lifting the edges of the paper towels and crawling under them. After a few hours, I took pity on him and put him in a large jar with about 6 inches of soil from the yard in the bottom of it. Within seconds, he began rooting around in the soil and dug himself right into it! Within about 15 minutes, he was completely buried. So I put the lid on tight and just left him there. There has been some condensation on the sides of the jar, but I'm concerned about the moisture level being right. I want our little guy to have conditions that are right for him. What should I know and do now?"

Manduca rustica prepupal fifth instar, Raeford, Hoke County, North Carolina,
August 29, 2010, courtesy of Rebecca Biddle.

I reply, "I am not sure what to suggest now. I use the soil-less pupation technique described in the article below and then have an easy storage arrangement that works for me. One possibility is to leave the larva, possibly a pupa now, where it is. The fact that it darkened before pupating is often a sign that it is going to overwinter in the pupa stage.

"I have read what I consider to be very reliable reports that Sphingidae pupae often wiggle to the surface of the ground when the moths are ready to emerge. They travel upwards through the same tunnels that they excavated as caterpillars.

"You could put a stick on a slant in the jar so that if the moth does emerge in the next few weeks, it will have something to climb on and hang from to inflate its wings. If it does not emerge within the next few weeks, you are faced with the dilemma of how to store that large jar. I don't imagine the refrigerator is an option.

"Outdoor storage could be hazardous as the jar might collect water and the pupa might drown. Perhaps it would be okay out of the house in an unheated garage or shed, sheltered from rain and snow.

"If I were in your situation, I would wait another few days just to make sure the caterpillar has pupated, and the pupal shell has hardened. Then I would carefully unearth the pupa and store it as recommended in the article below, entitled "care of "found larvae/caterpillars"". Life is an adventure. I often experiment with things that seem to make sense to me. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, but I always learn something. Please let us know how you make out. Best of luck."

Rebecca also sends the following image of a Xylophanes tersa larva.

Xylophanes tersa fifth instar, Raeford, Hoke County, North Carolina,
October 16, 2008, courtesy of Rebecca Biddle.

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

Thirty-six Sphingidae species are listed for North Carolina on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Hoke County (None are reported on U.S.G.S. as of August 26, 2010). 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 Hoke County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present.

A "USGS" indicates the moth is reported on the USGS website (now BAMONA 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.

Many thanks to Lisa Edwards who sends the following image of a Manduca sexta larva.

Manduca sexta on red peppers, Raeford, Hoke County, North Carolina,
August 31, 2013, courtesy of Lisa Edwards.

Visit Hoke County Sphingidae: Adult Moths.
Visit North Carolina Catocala: Underwing Moths.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, WO Pink-spotted hawkmoth: Convolvulaceae family, especially Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato) and in the Solanaceae family, especially (Datura) (jimsonweed) and related plants in Americas. Also a brown form. Look for very large, dark spiracular circles.

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

Ceratomia catalpae WO, Catalpa Sphinx: Young caterpillars feed gregariously on Catalpa species (Catalpa bignoniodes and C. speciosa) in Bignoniaceae family, skeletonizing foliage. Larvae are mostly white in early instars.

Ceratomia undulosa WO, Waved Sphinx: Fraxinus, Ligustrum, Quercus, Crataegus, Chionanthus virginicus are listed as hosts. In the fifth instar, spiracular ovals are decidedly red and anal horn is off-white to pinkish laterally.

Dolba hyloeus WO Pawpaw Sphinx: Pawpaw (Asimina triloba), littleleaf sweetfern (Myrica aspleniifolia), possum haw (Ilex decidua), inkberry (Ilex glabra), Tall Gallberry Holly (Ilex coriacea). Louis Handfield reports larvae probably feed on Ilex verticellata in Quebec.

Isoparce cupressi WO, Cypress or Baldcypress Sphinx. Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum). Pupation in shallow underground burrows. unlikely

Lapara coniferarum WO, Southern Pine Sphinx: Pine species, including loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) and longleaf pine (P. pinaster). They are well camouflaged and are without an anal horn.

Lintneria eremitusWO, Hermit Sphinx. Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), sage (Salvia). Joe Garris of Sussex, New Jersey, reports larvae also feed on Collinsonia canadensis (Canada Horsebalm, Richweed, Hardhack, Heal-All, Horseweed), and on houseplant, Coleus. questionable

Manduca jasminearum WO, Ash Sphinx: Ash in Fraxinus genus. Syringa (lilac); Ulmus (elm) have also been reported.

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

Manduca rustica RB, Rustic Sphinx: Numerous white nodules on top of thorax and seven pairs of oblique, blue-gray stripes along side of body. Horn: white at base and blue-gray at tip. Many hosts are utilized.

Manduca rustica, Raeford, August 24, 2010, courtesy of Rebecca Biddle.

Manduca sexta WO/LE, Carolina Sphinx: Tobacco Hornworms, equipped with red-tipped horn at end of abdomen. True gluttons; feed on tobacco, tomato, occasionally potato, pepper crops and other plants in nightshade family (Solanaceae).

Manduca sexta larva on red peppers, Raeford, August 31, 2013, Lisa Edwards

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

Sphinx chersis WO, Northern Ash Sphinx; Great Ash Sphinx: Pale bluish green. Head has pair of yellow lateral bands meeting at apex. Oblique, lateral stripes are pale and bordered anteriorly with darker green. Ash, lilac, privet, cherry, quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, Wild Cherry Sphinx: Larvae hide by day and feed primarily on cherry, plum, and apple at night. Amelanchier nantuckensis in Massachusetts and have been reared to pupation in Michigan on Prunus serotina from eggs readily deposited by female. questionable

Sphinx gordius WO, Apple Sphinx: 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: Laurel Sphinx larvae feed primarily on lilac and fringe. Larvae have also been found on privet.

Smerinthini Tribe:

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

Paonias astylus WO, Huckleberry Sphinx: Blueberry, huckleberry (Vaccinium), cherries (Prunus), willows (Salix) are favorites as larval foodplants. This appears to be an uncommon species.

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 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.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris thysbe WO, Hummingbird Clearwing: Also an orangey-pink prepupal form. Lateral line runs from S1 to blue horn. Hemaris thysbe larvae feed on viburnum and related plants.

Hemaris diffinis WO, Snowberry Clearwing; Bumblebee Moth: Snowberry (Symphoricarpos), honeysuckle (Lonicera), Coralberry, viburnums, Blue Dogbane (Apocynum), dwarf bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera).Horn: black with yellow base.

Hemaris gracilis WO, Slender Clearwing; Graceful Clearwing: Blueberries including low bush blueberry (Vaccinium vacillans), laurel (Kalmia), all in heath family (Ericaceae). generally more easterly

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, Achemon Sphinx: Grape (Vitis), Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), other vines, ivies (Ampelopsis). Both light (green) form and darker (tan/brown) forms. Note six "segmented" oblique lines.

Eumorpha pandorus GF, Pandorus Sphinx: If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you might encounter this species. Note five (sometimes six, sometimes only four) large white ovals. Orangey-brown and green forms also.

Eumorpha pandorus, Coats, on scuppernong grape, November 14, 2009, Gordon Flood.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, Nessus Sphinix: Virginia creeper, Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), cayenne pepper (Capsicum).Larvae are green until the final instar.

Darapsa choerilus WO, Azalea Sphinx: Progress rapidly on Azalea,d Viburnum. 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 foodplants indicated in common names, you probably have this species nearby. Lower wings: orange. Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Grape (Vitis), Ampelopsis, Viburnum.

Darapsa versicolor WO, Hydrangea Sphinx: Larvae turn deep chocolate brown just prior to pupation; "horn" on tail also turns downward as pupation draws near. Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), waterwillow (Decodon verticillatus).

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: Grape (Vitis); ampelopsis (Ampelopsis). Hide on bark during day; feed at night. 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/RB, Tersa Sphinx: Borreria, Catalpa and Manettia spp. and Smooth buttonplant (Spermacoce glabra) and starclusters (Pentas species). Also recorded on joe-pie weed, Hamelia patens, Hedoydis nigricans. Green form may be more common.

Xylophanes tersa fifth instar, Raeford, October 16, 2008, courtesy of Rebecca Biddle.

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.

Use your browser "Back" button to return to the previous page.

This page is brought to you by Bill Oehlke and the WLSS. Pages are on space rented from Bizland. If you would like to become a "Patron of the Sphingidae Site", contact Bill.

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

Show appreciation for this site by clicking on flashing butterfly to the left.
The link will take you to a page with links to many insect sites.

This website has been created and is maintained by Bill Oehlke without government or institutional financial assistance. All expenses, ie., text reference support material, webspace rental from Bizland, computer repairs/replacements, backups systems, software for image adjustments (Adobe Photoshop; L-View), ftp software, anti-virus protection, scanner, etc. are my own.

I very much appreciate all the many images that have been sent to me, or of which I have been granted permission to copy and post from other websites. All images on this site remain the property of respective photographers.

If you would like to contribute to the maintenace of this website by sending a contribution to

Bill Oehlke
Box 476
155 Peardon Road
Montague, Prince Edward Island, C0A1R0

your donation would be much appreciated and would be used for
1) paying for webspace rental;
2) paying for computer maintenance and software upgrades;
3) purchases of additional text reference material (journals and books) in anticipation of expanding the site to a worldwide Sphingidae site;
4) helping to pay my daughter's tuition (completed spring of 2013); with anything left over going to humanitarian aid.

If you are mailing a check from USA, please use $1.10 postage (2013 rate). Donations can also be made through Paypal via the button below.