Created/dedicated as per personal communication with B. Wunderlich and Phil Crosby, July 2008
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 2008
Updated as per personal communication with Ole Breum (Proserpinus vega, Fort Davis, Ocotober 16, 2012); November 15, 2012

Western Texas
Sphingidae Larvae

Manduca rustica, near Terlingua, Brewster County, Texas, July 30, 2008, courtesy of B. Wunderlich, the observer and photographer, via Phil Crosby, the submitter.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to B. Wunderlich (photographer) and Phil Crosby of Brewster County who sent me the Manduca rustica images, top and bottom of this page.

Phil writes, "Location: West Texas, Big Bend Area, Near Terlingua, zip 79852 Upland Chihuahua desert, elevation 3,000 feet

"Dominant area vegetation: creosote, ocotillo, mesquite. Also common: prickly pear, lechuguilla, yucca

"Local vegetation from natural springs, arroyos, and hand watering: desert willow, acacia, pinion (where planted)

"Occurrence: Locally found in late summer

"Other Notes: Dogs find them delicious.

"Thanks for any info. Iím just finding out about sphinx moths and how many there are!"

Many thanks to Ole Breum and his daughter Agnete who have provided images of the seldom seen larvae of Proserpinus vega.

Ole Breum of Denmark was very kind to send the following images taken by his daughter Agnete:

Proserpinus vega fifth instar, Fort Davis, Jeff Davis County, Texas,
October 16, 2012, courtesy of Agnete and Ole Breum.

Proserpinus vega fifth instar, Fort Davis, Jeff Davis County, Texas,
October 16, 2012, courtesy of Agnete and Ole Breum.

Proserpinus vega fifth instar, Fort Davis, Jeff Davis County, Texas,
October 16, 2012, courtesy of Agnete Moller Breum.

Proserpinus vega fifth instar, Fort Davis, Jeff Davis County, Texas,
October 16, 2012, courtesy of Agnete Moller Breum.

For care of "found larvae/caterpillars" visit Manduca sexta larva, Travis County, 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 western region. It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you are likely to encounter within the area bounded from Winkler County southeast to Terrell, west to Presidio, and northwest to El Paso County, east back to Winkler.

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, WO 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. S&E

Ceratomia undulosa WO, 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. S 2/3

Lintneria eremitoides. Larval hosts are Sage (Salvia species). It is anticipated that 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). Although they may be encountered feeding during daylight hours, one is even more likely to discover them feeding in the evening or after dark.

Lintneria istar WO, the Istar Sphinx

Istar Sphinx larvae feed primarily on mints (Salvia). Larvae can be considerably darker as per the image at top of the page.

I think istar, separatus and smithi are all being reassigned to the Lintneria genus. T

Sphinx separatus WO, the Separated Sphinx

Salvia greggii has been confirmed as a larval host by Robert A. Behrstock.
Jim Tuttle, tentative id, writes, "All of the penultimate instars of both Lintneria (Sphinx) istar and Lintneria (Sphinx) separatus that I have reared have been mundane green." T

Manduca quinquemaculata WO, 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). T

Manduca rustica WO, the Rustic Sphinx
The caterpillar has numerous white nodules on top of the thorax and seven pairs of oblique, blue-gray stripes along the side of the body. The horn is white at the base and blue-gray at the tip. Many hosts are utilized. S 2/3

Manduca sexta WO, 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). T

Sphinx asellus USGS, the Asella sphinx

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

Sphinx chersis WO, the Great Ash Sphinx

The larvae are pale bluish green. The head has a pair of yellow lateral bands meeting at the apex.

Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen. T

Sphinx dollii WO, the Doll's sphinx

Larval hosts are Alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana) and 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. T

Sphinx libocedrus WO, the Incense Cedar Sphinx

Larvae feed on New Mexican forestiera (Forestiera neomexicana), on Forestiera angustifolia and on little leaf ash (Fraxinus gooddingii) in the Oleaceae family. There are green and dark forms and all larvae tend to darken just before pupation. T

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO/ USGS, 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 occidentalis WO, the 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, the Small-eyed Sphinx

The caterpillars have a grainy appearance with weak oblique lines and varying amounts of red spotting on their sides. T

Smerinthus saliceti WO, the Salicet Sphinx, flies in valleys and along streamsides from Mexico City north to west Texas, southern Arizona, and extreme southern California. There are two colour morphs, one a pale green and one lime green. Larvae feed on willow (Salix) or poplar (Populus). S 2/3

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

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. T

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. T

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. T

Eumorpha vitis WO/Amy Smith/ML, 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. S 2/3

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. SH

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. T

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. T

Proserpinus juanita WO, 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

Proserpinus vega WO/OB, the Vega sphinx

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

Proserpinus vega larva, Fort Davis, Jeff Davis County, October 16, 2012, Ole Breum and daughter Agnete.


Xylophanes falco WO, the Falcon Sphinx

There is a single large eye on the thorax and six white circles down the side. There are extensive bands of white dots girdling the abdomen. T

Manduca rustica,near Terlingua, Brewster County, Texas, July 30, 2008, courtesy of B. Wunderlich, the observer and photographer, via Phil Crosby, submitter

Many of the Sphingidae larvae are highly variable within the species. Most darken considerably just before pupation, especially before the onset of cooler weather.

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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