Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Jennifer Z. Davis, September 2008
Updated as per Butterflies and Moths of North America, formerly USGS, September 2008
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 24, 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Linda Mitchell, July 24, 2010

Northwest Central Texas
Sphingidae Larvae

Eumorpha pandorus, fifth instar, lateral, Lubbock County, Texas,
September 2008, courtesy of Jennifer Z. Davis.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Jennifer Z. Davis who sent me the Eumorpha pandorus larval images at the top and bottom of the page from Lubbock County, Texas.

Jennifer writes, "I am in West Texas. I have never seen one of these, and I was trying to find out what kind of caterpillar it was. I haven't found any pictures that are like this one. It's the length of a cigarette lighter. I put one next to it in one of the pictures. It's smooth, gray in color with white spots down its side and black on bottom. It has one black dot on its back. It was on my front patio just sitting there. When I poked it with a stick to see if it was alive, it starting slowly going back out towards my yard."

I replied, "It is Eumorpha pandorus, the Pandorus Sphinx. I would like permission to use some of the images with credit to you on a western Texas webpage. Please provide me with the west Texas County.

Generally this is a more easterly species, not reported west of eastern Texas."

"You have my permission! Lubbock County, I am in the City of Lubbock.

"Thank you- my kids were amazed by it and wanted to know what it was. Like I said I've never seen one that looked like that. We usually only have the black furry ones around here.

"Thank you again."

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

Seventy-five Sphingidae species are listed for Texas on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in the northwest central region. It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the caterpillars you are likely to encounter. Some occurin more than one form so click on the links if you find something similar that is not a perfect match.

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:

Ceratomia hageni WO, generally more easterly, Hagen's Sphinx or Osage Orange Sphinx

Larvae feed on osage orange (Maclura pomifera), and they have a granulous appearance with variable amounts of purple along the oblique white stripes.

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

Lintneria eremitoides WO. Larval hosts are Sage (Salvia species). The Lintneria larvae will most often be encountered on Lamiaceae: Salvia (Sage), Mentha (Mints), Monarda (Beebalm) and Hyptis (Bushmints); Verbenaceae: Verbena and Lantana camara (shrub verbenas or lantanas). One is even more likely to discover larvae feeding in the evening or after dark.

Lintneria istar WO, generally more southerly, the Istar Sphinx

Istar Sphinx larvae feed primarily on mints (Salvia).

Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth. The caterpillars are called Tomato Hornworms and each has a black horn at the end of the abdomen. Larvae feed on potato, tobacco, tomato, and other plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae). There is also a very beautiful brown form. See bottom of page.

Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

The caterpillars are called Tomato Hornworms and each has a black horn at the end of the abdomen. Larvae feed on potato, tobacco, tomato, and other plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae). There is also a very beautiful brown form to the left.

Manduca rustica WO, generally more southerly and easterly, the Rustic Sphinx. Numerous white nodules on thorax; seven pairs of oblique, blue-gray stripes on side of body. Horn is white at base and blue-gray at tip.

Manduca sexta WO, generally more southerly, the Carolina Sphinx

Tobacco Hornworms, equipped with a red-tipped horn at the end of the abdomen, are true gluttons and feed on tobacco and tomato, and occasionally potato and pepper crops and other plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).

Sphinx asellus WO, the Asella sphinx

Larval hosts are Manzanita and Arctostaphylos of the Ericaceae family. Look for a blue horn and strong purple colouration.

Sphinx dollii USGS, the Doll's sphinx

Larval hosts are Alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana) and other juniper species.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, generally more easterly, 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 libocedrus USGS, the Incense Cedar Sphinx. Larvae feed on New Mexican forestiera (Forestiera neomexicana), Forestiera angustifolia and little leaf ash (Fraxinus gooddingii) in the Oleaceae family. There are green and dark forms and all larvae tend to darken just before pupation.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO, generally more easterly, southerly, 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 USGS, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

Larvae feed on poplars and cottonwood.

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:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next two species.

Hemaris thysbe WO, generally more easterly, 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. unlikely, generally more eastern species

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.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon USGS/LM, 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 achemon, fifth instar, Lamb County, July 23, 2010, courtesy of Linda Mitchell.

Eumorpha fasciatus WO, unlikely, generally more easterly, 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.

Eumorpha pandorus JZD, 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. generally more eastern species

Eumorpha pandorus, fifth instar, Lubbock County, September 2008, courtesy of Jennifer Z. Davis.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, generally more easterly, 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, unlikely, generally more easterly, 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.

Hyles lineata USGS, 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.

Hyles lineata: larva sighting, Cedar Park near Austin, Texas, May 3, 2006, by Katherine Green who writes, "I think it is Hyles lineata, but from the other pictures I am not sure. It is making a meal of my Pink Primroses. I watched for a bit and it steard clear of the grass, red yucca and wandering jew." This larva is highly variable, but the lateral "circles" are fairly consistent.

Proserpinus guarae USGS, the Proud Sphinx

Larvae feed on (Onagraceae) including evening primrose (Oenothera), gaura (Gaura), and willow weed (Epilobium). Sorry, no larval image available at this time. rare

Proserpinus juanita USGS, the Juanita Sphinx

Larvae feed on (Onagraceae) including evening primrose (Oenothera), gaura (Gaura), and willow weed (Epilobium).

Larvae are green with a short red horn in fourth instar. T

Xylophanes tersa USGS, the Tersa Sphinx. Larvae also 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.

Eumorpha pandorus, fifth instar, dorsal, Lubbock County, Texas,
September 2008, courtesy of Jennifer Z. Davis.

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