Jasper County, South Carolina
Sphingidae Larvae

Manduca rustica, Jasper County, SC, courtesy of Dr. Wasil Khan

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Dr. Wasil Khan who provided images of a Manduca rustica larvae (top of page) and its local host, Callicarpa americana (below), from Jasper County.

Dr. Khan writes, September 18, 2005, "This cat was photographed in my back yard (about a week ago) so I was able to go out just now and snap some photos of the food plant. The first is the actual plant on which it was feeding. The caterpillar was nowhere to be found, though. The second is a similar plant with some berries on it. The leaves and stems look identical to the first plant, but it has these purple berry clusters. Iím guessing they are the same. I'm located in southern Jasper County, SC, just across the border from Savannah, Georgia.

"I think it is probably Manduca sexta because it was over 4 inches in length. I donít know of many sphinx cats that reach this size. Any thoughts?

"I found a photo on the internet that looks like this plant. It is American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana. Does that help narrow it down?"

Callicarpa americana, American Beautyberry, Jasper County, SC, courtesy of Dr. Wasil Khan.

On October 21, 2007 Dr. Khan provided the following image of Amorpha juglandis.

He writes, "My kids found two sphinx cats in the yard today. They were crawling on the ground. The closest plants were a red oak and a hickory tree. They looked to be crawling from the oak. I haven't seen sphinx larvae like these in SC, even though I grew up around Charleston and was usually looking for bugs, etc. I'm now in southern Jasper County, SC near the Georgia border. Anyone know off hand what these might be? The first is a full body shot of the first (note the pointed head), the second is a close-up of the hind end of the other cat (note the small white bumps Ė these were raised, giving a sandpaper texture to the caterpillar). These cats hissed loudly when grabbed while twisting to poke you simultaneously with the pointed head and tail spike. This really intimidated my five-year-old. They are both a little over two inches."

Dr. Wasil Khan has also provided the images of a adult Sphecodina abbottii, Ceratomia undulosa and Paonias excaecata posted to Jasper County Sphingidae.

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

Forty Sphingidae species are listed for South Carolina on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Jasper County (Eight species are reported on U.S.G.S.). It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you are likely to encounter.

Additional images of caterpillars of most species are depicted in the individual species files.

A "WO" after the species name indicates that I have no confirmed reports of this species in Jasper 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 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.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, USGS Pink-spotted hawkmoth,

Larvae feed on plants in the Convolvulaceae family, especially Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato) and in the Solanaceae family, especially (Datura) (jimsonweed) and related plants in the Americas. There is also a brown form. Look for very large, dark spiracular circles.

Ceratomia amyntor WO, 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 catalpae WO, 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 WO/WK, 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.

Ceratomia undulosa adult, March 25, 2006, Dr. Wasil Khan.

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.

Isoparce cupressi WO, Cypress or Baldcypress Sphinx. Larvae feed on needles of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) at night and pupate in shallow underground burrows where second generation overwinters.

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.

Lapara coniferarum USGS, 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.

Manduca jasminearum WO, the Ash Sphinx

Larvae feed on ash in the Fraxinus genus. Syringa and Ulmus have also been reported.

Note the black anal horn.

Manduca quinquemaculata 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.

Manduca rustica WK, the Rustic Sphinx

Note the green horn, raised white bumps and strong dark lines anterior to the white ones.

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.

Paratrea plebeja WO, 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), and passionflower (Passiflora species). Questionable

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 franckii WO, Franck's Sphinx Moth

Larvae feed exclusively on various species of ash (Fraxinus).

Raised, pointed bumps, especially near the head and thorax give this caterpillar a reptilian appearance. possibility

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). generally a more northerly species

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO/WK, 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 officially recorded in Northampton County. Larvae are sometimes found on poplars and willows.

sorry, no image available

Paonias astylus WO, the Huckleberry Sphinx

Blueberry and huckleberry (Vaccinium), cherries (Prunus) and willows (Salix) are the favorites as 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 USGS, 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 USGS, 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:

Enyo lugubris the Mournful sphinx WO,

Larvae probably feed on Vitus tiliifolia and other members of the Vitaceae family: Vitis, Cissus, Ampelopsis. In Florida larvae have been reported on larvae on Possum Vine (Cissus sicyoides) and Pepper Vine (Ampelopsis arborea).

Erinnyis obscura, the Obscure Sphinx, WO
Larvae feed on Rauvolfia ligustrina, Rauvolfia tetraphylla, Stemmadenia obovata, Philibertia, Cynanchum, papaya (Carica papaya), Asclepiadaceae, Blepharodon mucronatum, White vine (Sarcostemma clausum) and Morrenia odorata. rare

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris thysbe USGS, 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
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 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 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 fasciatus WO, 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 intermedia WO, the Intermediate Sphinx. Eumorpha intermedia larvae feed upon peppervine, Ampelopsis arborea. Possibly they will also accept grape (Vitis species), but so far no records of that host have been reported to my knowledge. They like to remain well hidden within tangle of vines and probably feed mostly at night.

Eumorpha pandorus WO, 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.

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.

sorry, no image available

Cautethia grotei WO, the Grote's Sphinx

This species is rarely recorded in the U.S., but there are sightings in the east from Florida, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
There are no reports from Jasper County. rare

Darapsa choerilus USGS, 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 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/WK, 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.

Sphecodina abbottii adult, April 22, 2006, Dr. Wasil Khan

Xylophanes tersa WO, the Tersa Sphinx

Larvae feed on Borreria, Catalpa and Manettia spp. and Smooth buttonplant (Spermacoce glabra) and starclusters (Pentas species). They are also recorded on joe-pie weed and Hamelia patens and on Hedoydis nigricans. The green form may be more common.

Jasper County Recording Sheets:
Days 1-16 page 1 A. cingulata to S. jamaicensis
Days 17-31 page 1 A. cingulata to S. jamaicensis
Days 1-16 page 2 E. lugubris to X. tersa
Days 17-31 page 2 E. lugubris to X. tersa
Days 1-16 blank
Days 17-31 blank

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.

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.