Created/dedicated per personal communication with Bill Rue (Ceratomia amyntor, fifth instar larva on weeping birch); July 23, 2014
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 23, 2014
Updated as per BAMONA; July 23, 2014

Suffolk County, New York
Sphingidae: Larval Thumbnails

Ceratomia amyntor on weeping birch, August 12, 2006
courtesy of Bill Rue, Long Island's East End, Suffolk County.

I (William Oehlke) spent my early years in northern New Jersey and now reside in Montague, Prince Edward Island. I still have a frame of Sphingidae specimens from Hunterdon County, New Jersey, done up over forty-five years ago. It contains Sphinx (now Lintneria) eremitus, Sphinx gordius, Paonias myops, Smerinthus jamaicensis, Darapsa choerilus, Darapsa myron, Sphecodina abbottii, Hyles lineata and a stray Xylophanes tersa.

I can also remember seeing Manduca sexta, Manduca quinquemacualta, Manduca jasminearum, Ceratomia catalpae, Ceratomia amyntor, Ceratomia undulosa, Paonias excaecata, Amorpha juglandis, Eumorpha pandorus, Hemaris thysbe and Hyles lineata at lights or along the train tracks (Union County, N.J.) at night nectaring at phlox. The Hemaris species could often be encountered around the butterfly bushes or near the honey suckle vines.

Some of these species I now see at lights on P.E.I.; I have reared most of the local ones.

With so many species from Suffolk County common to one or the other or both of my homes, the memories are flooding back!

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Bill Rue who sent me the image of the Ceratomia amyntor larva at the top of the page.

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

Forty-six Sphingidae species are listed for New York on the U.S.G.S. website (now BAMONA). Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Suffolk County (Thirty-four are reported on BAMONA as of July 23, 2014). 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 have no confirmed reports of this species in Suffolk County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present in larval form as well as adult moth. A "BAMONA" indicates the moth is reported on the BAMONA 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.

Please also send your sightings to BAMONA, an excellent online resource.

Visit Suffolk County Sphingidae: Adult Moths.

Visit New York Catocala: Underwing Moths.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, BAMONA Pink-spotted hawkmoth: Larvae feed on plants in Convolvulaceae family: Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato); in Solanaceae family: especially (Datura) (jimsonweed); related plants. There is also a brown form. Look for very large, dark spiracular circles. occasionally, but only as adult moth

Ceratomia amyntor BAMONA, 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 catalpae BAMONA, the 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 BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, Northern Pine Sphinx: This caterpillar is also without the anal horn and feeds on pines. The long stripes and reddish brown afford great camouflage.

Lapara coniferarum BAMONA, the 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 BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, the Ash Sphinx: Larvae feed on ash in the Fraxinus genus. Syringa and Ulmus have also been reported. Note the black anal horn.

Manduca quinquemaculatus BAMONA, 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.

Manduca rustica WO, the Rustic Sphinx: Note the green horn, raised white bumps and strong dark lines anterior to the white ones. possibly, but only as adult moth

Manduca sexta BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, the 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), passionflower (Passiflora species).

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

Sphinx chersis BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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 luscitiosa BAMONA, the Canadian Sphinx or Clemen's Sphinx: This one is reported from Richmond and from northeastern New Jersey.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx
This moth is not officially recorded in Burlington County. It is fond of poplars and willows.

Paonias astylus BAMONA, the Huckleberry Sphinx: Blueberry and huckleberry (Vaccinium), cherries (Prunus) and willows (Salix) are the favorites as larval foodplants.

Paonias excaecata BAMONA, the Blinded Sphinx: Larvae accept willows, birches, and cherries. I have also found them in the wild on oak in eastern Canada.

Paonias myops BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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:

Erinnyis ello BAMONA, Ello Sphinx: Larvae feed on papaya (Carica papaya), Cnidoscolus angustidens, poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), guava (Psidium species) and saffron plum (Bumelia angustifolia/Bumelia celastrina). Manilkara bahamensis, Willow Bustic (Bumelia salicifolia) and Painted Leaf (Poinsettia heterophylla) are also hosts.
Nice socks! Larvae show considerable variation. Just as an adult moth

Hemaris thysbe BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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, 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

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon BAMONA, 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 fasciatus BAMONA, the Banded Sphinx: Larvae feed upon primrose-willow, Ludwigia (water primrose) and other plants in the evening primrose family. This hornless larva is highly variable.

Look for large, dark spiracular circles and a dark line in the center of the back. See image at bottom of this page.

Eumorpha pandorus BAMONA, 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.

Eumorpha vitis WO, the Vine Sphinx
Eumorpha vitis vitis larvae feed upon grape foliage (Vitis) and other vines (Cissus): Cissus pseudosicyoides and Cissus rhombifolia and Cissus sicycoides. I suspect there would be a brown form.

Note five, smooth, narrow, oblique white lines.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis BAMONA, 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.

Cautethia grotei WO, Grote's Sphinx. Rare in U.S., but there are sightings (mostly of adult moths) in the east from Florida, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Larvae feed on David's milkberry/snowberry (Chiococca alba) in the madder family (Rubiaceae) and have also been found on black torch (Erithalis fruiticosa) and Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus).

Darapsa choerilus BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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. 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 BAMONA, 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 WO, Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx: Larvae come in black and in brown forms and often feed on Epilobium (fireweed).

Hyles lineata BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, 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 BAMONA, Tersa Sphinx: Borreria, Catalpa and Manettia spp., Smooth buttonplant (Spermacoce glabra), starclusters (Pentas species), Joe-pie weed; Hamelia patens; Hedoydis nigricans. Green form may be more common. likely just as adult moth




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