Inspired and dedicated as per personal communication with Rocco Prock, November 15, 2010
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, November 15, 2010
Updated as per Butterflies and Moths of North America, formerly USGS, November 15, 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Alex C. Henderson, Sphinx chersis, September 17, 2013
Updated as per personal communication with Carol Wilkinson, Sphinx chersis larva, November 24, 2015

Clark County, Nevada
Sphingidae Larvae

Sphinx chersis, fifth instar, Las Vegas, Clark Co., Nevada,
November 14, 2010, courtesy of Rocco Prock.

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke at
Comments, suggestions and/or additional information/sightings are welcomed by Bill.

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 Rocco Prock. Rocco sent me the beautiful images of the Sphinx chersis larva at the top and bottom of this page.

Rocco writes, November 15, 2010, "We found this in the alley and brought him/her into our back yard.

"The days are comfortable here, between 70 and 80 during the day. The nights are between 43 and 59. It was 59 this morning at 5:30 when I left for work.

"We put the sphinx in a mid-sized fish tank with 4 inches of soil in it after reading your information. We do not know if the soil is the correct type. Our earth does not have any clay in it and is not much like loam.

"We did not want to release him in the back yard because of the large birds and lizards that might eat him.

"The fish tank is in a room at around 75 degrees. We want him to be safe and mature into the moth. Do you have any suggestions? Food, Air, Temperature, soil, ect."

I replied, "Rocco,

"The Sphinx larva is Sphinx chersis, the Great Ash Sphinx.

"Pretty much any local soil type is okay so long as it is soft enough for excavation by the larvae. It is also possible to get the larva top pupate without the soil, as per the article, linked below about care of found larva. I recommend you give it about a week to pupate and then very carefully excavate it and treat as per the article. Best of luck. Thanks for sharing photos.

Just qa few days ago this caterpillar would have been much more green. Many of the Sphingidae larvae take on a reddish hue, just prior to pupation, especially if they are going to overwinter."

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

Eighteen Sphingidae species are listed for Nevada on the U.S.G.S. website (now BAMONA). Some of them would be adult strays into Nevada. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Clark County (thirteen are reported on U.S.G.S., with Sphinx perelegans, Sphinx sequoiae and Erinnyis ello probably only present as adult strays). 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 larva is present or might be present, although unreported. A "USGS" indicates the species is confirmed on USGS site, which is now BAMONA. Please also send your sightings to BAMONA, an excellent online resource.

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 Alex C. who provides the following image of a Sphinx chersis larva from Henderson, September 17, 2013.

Sphinx chersis prepupal larva, Henderson, Clark County, Nevada,
September 17, 2013, courtesy of Alex C.

Many thanks also to Carol Wilkinson who provides the following image of a Sphinx chersis larva.

Sphinx chersis fifth instar, Crowe Park, Boulder City, Clark County, Nevada
courtesy of Carol Wilkinson.

Had Carol encountered the same larva 24 or more hours earlier it likely would have been predominantly green. Frequently larvae that are going to overwinter in pupal stage take on a much darker colouration when pupation is imminent.

Visit Nevada Sphingidae Adult Moths.

Visit Nevada Catocala Underwing Moths.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS, Five-spotted Hawkmoth: Tomato Hornworms: Black horn at end of abdomen. Larvae feed on potato, tobacco, tomato, and other plants in nightshade family (Solanaceae). Most larvae are green, but there is also very beautiful brown form to left.

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

Sphinx asellus USGS, Asella sphinx: Larval hosts are Manzanita and Arctostaphylos of the Ericaceae family. Look for a blue horn and strong purple colouration.

Sphinx chersis USGS, Great Ash Sphinx: Pale bluish green. The head has a pair of yellow lateral bands meeting at the apex. Ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx chersis prepupal larva, Henderson, September 17, 2013, courtesy of Alex C.

Sphinx dollii USGS, Doll's sphinx: Alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana), other juniper species. It is amazing to me how well the larval spiracular patches and false feet match the pattern and colour of the juniper bark.

Sphinx libocedrus WO, Incense Cedar Sphinx: New Mexican forestiera (Forestiera neomexicana), Forestiera angustifolia, little leaf ash (Fraxinus gooddingii) in Oleaceae family. Green and dark forms and all larvae tend to darken just before pupation.

Sphinx vashti USGS, Snowberry Sphinx: Common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), coralberry (S. orbiculatus). Two golden lines of slightly raised bumps, one just behind head, other on thorax.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx occidentalis USGS, Big Poplar Sphinx: Larvae feed on cottonwood and poplar (Populus) and willow (Salix). Larvae are very chunky with little to distinguish them from Pachysphinx modesta.

Paonias myops WO?, Small-eyed Sphinx: Wild cherry species are favorites as larval foodplants, but eggs will also be deposited on birches and other forest trees. To left, second/third instar larva rests on pin cherry. "Red heart" marking readily identifies this species. generally more eastern species; possibly

Smerinthus cerisyi USGS, Cerisy's Sphinx; Pale green, granular skin, pale lateral diagonal lines, faint red spiracular circles, very pale longitudinal lines running from head to more pronounced anal diagonal line. Green heads bounded dorsally with pale yellow inverted V.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

Hemaris thetis WO: Snowberry (Symphoricarpos), honeysuckle (Lonicera), Coralberry, viburnums, high bush cranberry, hawthorn (Crataegus). Horn: black with slightly lighter base. Formerly classified as H. diffinis or H. senta. Those species west of Continental Divide are now classified as H. thetis.

Philampelini tribe:

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

Macroglossini tribe:

Euproserpinus wiesti WO, Wiest's Primrose Sphinx: Day flyer over sand washes, prairie blow-outs as single brood from May-June. Prairie primrose (Oenothera latifolia) in evening primrose family (Onagraceae). Captive rearing difficult. Larvae need sunshine, heat, humidity.

Hyles lineata USGS, White-lined Sphinx: Highly varied. Willow weed (Epilobium), four o'clock (Mirabilis), apple (Malus), evening primrose (Oenothera), elm (Ulmus), grape (Vitis), tomato (Lycopersicon), purslane (Portulaca), Fuschia. Red/black swellings split by dorso-lateral lines.

Sphinx chersis, fifth instar, Las Vegas, Clark Co., Nevada,
November 14, 2010, courtesy of Rocco Prock.

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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