Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, September 20, 2008

Spokane County, Washington
Sphingidae Larvae

Sphinx drupiferarum Spokane County, Washington,
early September, courtesy of Cindy, Mark, Evan and Graham Brower.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Cindy, Mark, Evan and Graham Brower who found the S. drupiferarum larva, top of page, were successful in getting it to pupate, and sent along the pupal images at page bottom.

They write, "We live in Spokane, WA (on the border with Idaho) and two weeks ago we found a Wild Cherry Sphinx Caterpillar in our yard. Weve never seen one like it in this area and were wondering if its native to this area. Also, we followed your instructions and placed wet paper towels in its habitat and, after thinking he was dead for a few days, he pupated which was wonderful to see! Now we are wondering how long til eclosion and is there anything we should do to prepare for this?

"Thank you for setting up your very informative website yours is the only one I could find that correctly identified our Wild Cherry Sphinx! Its been fascinating!

"P.S. We named him Nigel."

I replied, "Congratulations.

"The moth wil not eclose until spring. To prevent an indoor mid winter eclosion due to warm house temps, you should put the pupa, wrapped, like a cigar, in a single piece of toilet tissue. Store it in sandwich sized or smaller ziploc/gladware/tupperware plastic container lid on tight, no airholes in fridge crisper. Take it out in early May. Please read http://www3.islandtelecom.com/~oehlkew/zpupae.htm and http://www.silkmoths.bizland.com/emerge.htm.

"Hard to tell for sure whether you have Sphinx drupiferarum or Sphinx perelegans. The larvae are very similar. Can you send another image (first image sent did not show horn) of Nigel showing the anal horn or can you remember if it was blue (perelegans) or reddish (drupiferarum)?

"I would like permission to use image, with credit to you, on webpage I will create for Spokane County Sphingidae larvae."

"Thank you so much for your prompt and helpful response! We will follow your instructions. Here is another picture of Nigel where you can see his red horn.

"Yes, you have our permission to use our images on your webpage our boys, 5 & 7 years old, are very excited about this, as are we."


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

Only seventeen Sphingidae species are listed for Washington on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Spokane County (Eight are reported on U.S.G.S. as of September 20, 2008). It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the larvae you are likely to encounter. A "WO" after the species name indicates that I have no confirmed reports of this species in your county, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth with its larvae are present or might be present. I have included many species not on the USGS list for Washington; I believe they are or might be present

A "USGS" indicates the moth is reported 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.

Many thanks to Zana Goulding who provides the following beautiful images of another Sphinx drupiferarum larva from Spokane. Note the yellowish "leggings" on the abdominal feet and the absence of black spots at the apex of the head. In a very similar species, Sphinx perelegans, the leggings are a purplish-lilac, and there are two black spots, often hidden by a thoracic shield, at the apex of the head.

Sphinx drupiferarum fifth instar, Spokane, Spokane County, Washington,
September 5, 2012, courtesy of Zana Goulding.

Sphinx drupiferarum fifth instar, Spokane, Spokane County, Washington,
September 5, 2012, courtesy of Zana Goulding.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Manduca quinquemaculatus 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).

Sphinx chersis WO, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx: The larvae are pale bluish green. The head has a pair of yellow lateral bands meeting at the apex. The oblique, lateral stripes are pale and bordered anteriorly with a darker green. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen. questionable, probably not

Sphinx drupiferarum USGS/Brower family, 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 drupiferarum larva, early September, Spokane, Brower family
Sphinx drupiferarum larva, September 5, 2012, Spokane, Zana Goulding

Sphinx perelegans USGS, the Elegant Sphinx: The basic body colour can be either glaucous or apple-green, without the earlier body tubercles. The oblique side stripes are white, edged with purple. The horn is sky blue. The spiracles are pale orange and the anal flap is edged with yellow.

Sphinx vashti WO, 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 WO, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

Larvae feed on poplars and cottonwood. The anal horn is greatly reduced in the final instar.

Pachysphinx occidentalis USGS, 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 USGS, the Blinded Sphinx

Larvae accept willows, birches, and cherries. I have also found them in the wild on oak in eastern Canada.

Skin is quite granulous.

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 ophthalmica WO: Ophthalmica larvae resemble cerisyi larvae, both being pale green, with granular skin, pale lateral diagonal lines, faint red spiracular circles, and very pale longitudinal lines running from head to more pronounced anal diagonal line. Larvae have green heads bounded dorsally with pale yellow inverted "V". Note blue horn.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

Hemaris thetis WO/EB,

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.

Macroglossini tribe:

Arctonotus lucidus WO, the Pacific Green Sphinx or Bear Sphinx

Larvae feed on evening primrose (Oenothera dentata var. campestris) and clarkias. David Wikle fed them on both Mexican evening primrose, Oenothera berlandieri and evening primrose, Oenothera biennis. Earlier instars are green. Eye at dorsal posterior appears in fifth instar.

Hyles gallii USGS, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is not reported in Chippewa, but it has been recorded in eastern Wisconsin counties. I suspect it is present.
Larvae come in black and in brown forms and often feed on Epilobium (fireweed).

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.

Proserpinus clarkiae USGS, Clark's Sphinx,

Larvae feed on elegant fairyfan (Clarkia unguiculata) in the evening primrose family (Onagraceae).

Proserpinus flavofasciata WO, Yellow-banded Day Sphinx,

Larvae feed on willow weed (Epilobium) and possibly thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus).

Sphinx drupiferarum fresh pupa, Spokane County, Washington,
early September, courtesy of Cindy, Mark, Evan and Graham Brower.

Sphinx drupiferarum hardened pupa, Spokane County, Washington,
early September, courtesy of Cindy, Mark, Evan and Graham Brower.

I am not sure that the tongue sheathe is properly formed on this pupa. I do not think it will effect the subsequent development and emergence of the moth.

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