Ceratomia undulosa, Moab, Grand County, Utah, November 12, 2007,
crawling on the sand in a dry wash, courtesy of Arthur Morris, id by James Tuttle.
This page is inspired by and dedicated to
Arthur Morris who sent me the image of the Ceratomia undulosa
larva depicted at the top of the page.
Arthur writes, "Can you help me with the identification of this
hornworm? It was found crawling on the sand in a dry wash near
I wrote back indicating that I thought the larvae was most likely
Sphinx chersis, but submitted the image to Jim Tuttle
who writes, "Tough angle and prepupal, but I would say that the
lateral stripes are too broad to be chersis; I would say undulosa."
For care of "found larvae/caterpillars" visit Manduca sexta larva, Travis County, central Texas,
August 21, 2008, Trina Woodall.
Twenty-five Sphingidae species are listed in the USGS for
Utah. Not all of the species are reported by USGS (nine species
reporteed by USGS as on November 2007:
Five-spotted hawkmoth (Manduca quinquemaculata),
Big poplar sphinx (Pachysphinx occidentalis),
One-eyed sphinx (Smerinthus cerisyi),
Great ash sphinx (Sphinx chersis),
Wild cherry sphinx (Sphinx drupiferarum),
Elegant sphinx (Sphinx perelegans),
Vashti sphinx (Sphinx vashti),
Snowberry clearwing (Hemaris diffinis) and
White-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata))
or anticipated in Grand County.
It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will
help you quickly identify the caterpillars you have encountered or are
likely to encounter.
A WO" after the species name indicates that
I have no confirmed reports of this species in Grand County, but I
(William Oehlke) expect that this moth is/might be present.
A USGS indicates the
moth is reported on the USGS website and/or in Moths of Western
North America, #2. Distribution of Sphingidae of Western North America, revised,
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
image, via email to
Sphinx chersis, Sphinx perelegans and Sphinx vashti are
quite similar. Note the dark upper thorax with wide black bars
extending to the abdomen on the image of Sphinx perelegans.
In Sphinx chersis the entire thorax is uniform
light blue-grey with very narrow dark lines.
Sphinx vashti lacks the checkered fringe on the
Note the pinkish-orange tail (can be bluish), 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.
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.
Note the green horn, raised white bumps and strong dark lines
anterior to the white ones.
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).
This species is not recorded in Wayne County, and would be unlikely.
It flies in pinyon-juniper woodland and similar arid situations in
Colorado (specimen type locality) and Nevada, Utah,
Arizona and New Mexico.
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.
Sphinx drupiferarum 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 from eggs readily oviposited by a female.
This species is not reported for Wayne County but may be present.
It flies in arid brushlands and desert foothills.
USGS, the Elegant Sphinx;
A unique feature of this larva is a shield on the first thoracic
segment, which is of the same colour as the body and which forms a
tight-fitting hood over the vertex of the head. This hides a pair of
glossy black spots on top of the head, which are revealed if the
animal is disturbed.
the Snowberry Sphinx
Larvae feed on the common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
and on coralberry (S. orbiculatus).
Note the two golden lines
of slightly raised bumps, one just behind the head, the other on the thorax.
the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx
Larvae feed on poplars and cottonwood.
Larvae feed on cottonwood and poplar (Populus) and willow
Larvae are very chunky with little to distinguish them
from Pachysphinx modesta.
Larvae accept willows, birches, and cherries.
I have also found them in the wild on oak in eastern Canada.
The skin of the mature larva has a very grainy appearance.
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.
Cerisyi larvae greatly resemble modesta larvae, both being pale
green, with granular skin, pale lateral diagonal lines, faint red
spiracular circles, and very pale longitudinal lines running from the
head to a more pronounced anal diagonal line.
Larvae have green heads bounded dorsally with a pale yellow
Larval host plants include Snowberry (Symphoricarpos),
honeysuckle (Lonicera), Coralberry, viburnums, high bush cranberry and hawthorn (Crataegus).
Horn is black with a slightly lighter base. This western species was formerly classified as
H. diffinis or H. senta. Those species west of the Continental Divide are now classified as
the Rocky Mountain Clearwing,
There is probably a single brood of this montane species from
The moth is seen along streamsides and in meadows in
mountainous areas. sorry, no larval image available; possibly same as H. thetis
Larvae feed upon Grape (Vitis), Virginia Creeper
(Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and other vines and ivies
Larvae occur in both a light (green) form and a darker (tan/brown)
form. Note six "segmented" oblique lines.
Wiest's Primrose Sphinx.
Euproserpinus wiesti adults fly, during the day, over sand washes
blow-outs as a single brood from May-June. Larvae feed on prairie primrose (Oenothera latifolia) in the evening primrose family (Onagraceae).
Trying to rear in captivity has proven difficult. Larvae seem to need sunshine, heat and humidity.
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
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