Washington County, Southern Utah, and
Nearby Iron, Garfield and Kane Counties

Sphingidae Larvae

Sphinx chersis, St George, Washington County, Utah,
September 20, 2017, courtesy of Nikki Hardman,
tentative id by Bill Oehlke

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Nikki Hardman who sent me the image of the Sphinx chersis larva depicted at the top of the page.

Nikki writes writes, "Took this this morning in St George, Utah"

I wrote back indicating that I think the larvae is most likely Sphinx chersis, but it could be Ceratomia undulosa. I favour chersis due to location, as undulosa generally is not known so far south in Utah. The dark colouration along the back is an indication the larva is ready to find some soft earth in which to excavate a subterranean chamber in which to pupate.

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 BAMONA (sixteen species reported by USGS/BAMONA as of September 20, 2017 for Washington 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 Washington County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this species is/might be present. I have only tracked results for Washington County on this page, but I think the checklist is also accurate for other southern counties: Iron, Garfield, Kane.

A USGS (now BAMONA indicates the species 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 Bill Oehlke.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, BAMONA Pink-spotted hawkmoth. Occasional stray. 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.

Manduca quinquemaculatus BAMONA, 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 sexta BAMONA, 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).

Sagenosoma elsa BAMONA, Elsa Sphinx. Larval hosts are unknown, but larvae probably feed on Lycium in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).Note the strong oblique black lines and the black anal horn.

Sphinx asella WO, the Asella Sphinx

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.

Sphinx chersis BAMONA/NH, 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.

Sphinx chersis, St. George, September 20, 2017, Nikki Hardman

Sphinx drupiferarum BAMONA, 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 from eggs readily oviposited by a female.

Sphinx dollii BAMONA, the Doll's Sphinx

This species is not reported for Wayne County but may be present.

It flies in arid brushlands and desert foothills.

Sphinx perelegans BAMONA, Elegant Sphinx; Larva has a shield on first thoracic segment, which is of same colour as body and which forms a tight-fitting hood over vertex of head, hiding a pair of glossy black spots on top of head, which are revealed if animal is disturbed.

Sphinx vashti BAMONA, 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.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx modesta BAMONA, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx. Larvae feed on poplars and cottonwood. More likely occidentalis in Utah

Pachysphinx occidentalis BAMONA, 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 excaecata WO, the Blinded Sphinx

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.

Paonias myops WO, 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 cerisyi BAMONA, Cerisy's Sphinx; Greatly resemble modesta larvae, pale green, with granular skin, pale lateral diagonal lines, faint red spiracular circles, very pale longitudinal lines running from head to more pronounced anal diagonal line. Green heads bounded dorsally with a pale yellow inverted "V".

Smerinthus ophthalmica BAMONA Resemble cerisyi larvae, both being pale green, with granular skin, pale lateral diagonal lines, faint red spiracular circles, very pale longitudinal lines running from head to more pronounced anal diagonal line. Green heads bounded dorsally with pale yellow inverted "V". Note blue horn.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini Tribe:

Hemaris thetis BAMONA,

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 H. thetis.

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.

Macroglossini Tribe:

Euproserpinus wiesti WO, Wiest's Primrose Sphinx. Flies during the day, over sand washes and prairie 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.

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.

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