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

Eau Claire County, Wisconsin
Sphingidae Larvae

Eumorpha pandorus fifth instar, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, courtesy of Ian Miller.

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

Thirty Sphingidae species are listed in the USGS for Wisconsin. Not all of the species are reported (three by USGS) or anticipated (twenty-seven by Bill Oehlke) in Eau Claire County.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Ian Miller who found the Eumorpha pandorus larva, summer of 2007, in Eau Claire.

Ian Miller writes, "The pandoras sphinx larva is from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I found it while trout fishing. It had eaten all the viginia creeper around it. It was very close to the water. If it rained, the little guy would be swimming."

Ian has also sent images of Hemaris diffins larvae which he has collected in large numbers, August 28, 2008. He continues to document the many species he finds in Eau Claire County.

Eau Claire is considerably north of the range indicated by James P. Tuttle in his excellent 2007 publication, The Hawk Moths of North America. Hence Ian's discovery is a bit of a surprise.

Many thanks also to Ian for this lovely image of a prepupal Hemaris thysbe larva.

Hemaris thysbe fifth instar, Eau Claire County, Wisconsin,
courtesy of Ian Miller

It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the larvae you have encountered.

A WO" after the species name indicates that I have no confirmed reports of this species in Eau Claire County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this species is present.

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:

Ceratomia amyntor WO/IM, the Elm Sphinx or Four-horned Sphinx

Larvae feed on Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), and cherry (Prunus). There are both green and brown forms. The four horns near the head are diagnostic.

Ceratomia amyntor larva, August 22-29, 2008, on birch, Ian Miller

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.

Dolba hyloeus USGS, the Pawpaw Sphinx
Larvae feed on pawpaw (Asimina triloba), littleleaf sweetfern (Myrica aspleniifolia), possum haw (Ilex decidua), and inkberry (Ilex glabra) as well as Tall Gallberry Holly (Ilex coriacea).

Lapara bombycoides WO/IM, the Northern Pine Sphinx

This caterpillar is also without the anal horn and feeds on pines.

The long stripes and reddish brown afford great camouflage.

Lapara bombycoides, September 9, 2008, Ian Miller

Lintneria eremitus WO, the Hermit Sphinx

Note triangular bump on the thorax.

Larval hosts are various species of beebalm (Monarda), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), and sage (Salvia).

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO/IM, 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).

Manduca quinquemaculatus adult with only four orange body spots on each side, August 16, 2009, Ian Miller

Sphinx canadensis WO, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere, but it should be present in Eau Claire County.

Larval hosts are white ash (Fraxinus americana) and blueberry (Vaccinium).

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.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, 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 gordius WO, the Apple Sphinx

Larval hosts are apple (Malus), sweetfern (Myrica), Carolina rose (Rosa carolina), blueberry and huckleberry (Vaccinium), white spruce (Picea glauca), American larch (Larix laricina), and alder (Alnus).

Sphinx kalmiae WO, the Laurel Sphinx

In the final instar, the black on the head, lateral lines, horn and on abdominal legs is diagnostic.

Larvae feed primarily on lilac and fringe.

Sphinx luscitiosa WO, the Canadian Sphinx or Clemen's Sphinx

Larval hosts are willow (Salix), poplar (Populus), birch (Betula), apple (Malus), ash (Fraxinus), waxmyrtle (Morella), and northern bayberry.

Sphinx poecila WO, the Poecila Sphinx

If you have blueberries in the woods, then you probably have the Poecila Sphinx.

They are probably widespread throughout Wisconsin, but are very much under reported.

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:

Amorpha juglandis WO, 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 WO/IM, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

Larvae feed on poplars and cottonwood. The anal horn is much reduced in the final instar. Some larvae have considerable red spotting.

Pachysphinx modesta, Eau Claire County, September 10, 2008, Ian Miller

Paonias excaecata WO/IM, the Blinded Sphinx

Larvae accept willows, birches, and cherries.

I have also found them in the wild on oak in eastern Canada. Skin has granualated appearance.

Paonias excaecata adult, July 18, 2008, Ian Miller

Paonias myops WO/IM, 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.

Paonias myops adult, July 17-18, 2008, Ian Miller

Smerinthus cerisyi WO, Cerisy's Sphinx; 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 inverted "V".

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO/IM, 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.

Smerinthus jamaicensis adult, July 17, 2008, Ian Miller

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini Tribe:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris diffinis WO/IM, 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.

Hemaris diffinis, August 28, 2008, Ian Miller

Hemaris gracilis USGS, the Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing

Larval foods are blueberries including low bush blueberry (Vaccinium vacillans), and laurel (Kalmia), all in the heath family (Ericaceae).

Hemaris thysbe WO/IM, 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.

Hemaris thysbe, recorded as adults, late August, 2008, Ian Miller

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.

Eumorpha pandorus IM, 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.

Eumorpha pandorus: Ian Miller sent me an image of a larva he encountered while trout fishing.
Eumorpha pandorus, many eggs and first instar larvae found,
late July - early August, 2009, now mature larvae, Ian Miller

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.

Darapsa choerilus WO, 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/IM, 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.

Darapsa myron adult, July 5, 2008, courtesy of Ian Miller.

Deidamia inscriptum USGS/IM, the Lettered Sphinx

Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus) all serve as larval hosts.

The alternating yellow and greyish-green rings across the back distinguish this larva.

Deidamia inscriptum adult, Ian Miller

Hyles euphorbiae IM, Leafy Spurge Hawk Moth Larvae feed on leafy spurge. Larvae are also conspicuously colored, with a pronounced tail or "horn" near rear end. Young larvae are variously patterned with green, yellow, and black; older larvae have distinctive red, black, yellow, and white color pattern. Mature larvae may approach 10 cm in length; when disturbed, they regurgitate a slimy green liquid.

Hyles euphorbiae adult, Ian Miller

Hyles gallii WO, 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 WO/IM, 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 first instar larva and egg found on evening primrose, August 16, 2009, Ian Miller.

Sphecodina abbottii WO/IM, the Abbott's Sphinx

Larvae feed at night on grape (Vitis) and ampelopsis (Ampelopsis) and hide on the bark of their host plants during the day. Virginia creeper would also be a suitable host.

There is also a dark form without the green patches. Note the "raised eye", replacing the anal horn.

Sphecodina abbottii adult, June 4, 2008, Ian Miller

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