Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Janeen Koch, Manitowoc, (Eumorpha pandorus larva), August 2010
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, August 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Janeen Koch, Manitowoc, (Hyles lineata larva), October 6, 2013

Manitowoc County, Wisconsin
Sphingidae Larvae

Eumorpha pandorus prepupal larva, Manitowoc, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin,
August 22, 2010, courtesy of Janeen Koch.

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 (none by USGS as of August 22, 2010) or anticipated (thirty-two by Bill Oehlke) in Manitowoc County.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Janeen Koch, who sent me the prepupal Eumorpha pandorus image, top of this page.

Janeen writes, "I was wondering if you could help me out with the attached pictures. I have tried finding a picture of this on the internet, but nothing I saw looks like this. I live in Manitowoc, Wisconsin and I found this crawling across my workshop floor this morning. It is about 3-1/2" long. Years ago, we found a Cecropia caterpillar and when it hatched in spring it was the most beautiful thing! So I would like to keep this one and see what it becomes, but I don't want to kill it by doing the wrong thing to it. So far I just have it in a bucket with some leaves.

"Could you give me any more information as to what this is, and how I should care for it? I don't know if it's done eating and looking for a place to make a cocoon or what.

"Thanks in advance for any help!"

I reply, "It is Eumorpha pandorus, the pandorus sphinx.

"It is done feeding and is ready to pupate. In the wild, the caterpillar would excavate a subterranean chamber in which to pupate, but if you put it in a sandwich sized gladware or tupperware type plastic tub with no air holes and lid on tight, it will pupate in there in 3-5 days under a folded piece of paper towel you need to insert when you put the caterpillar inside.

"It will give off moisture and shrink a bit, and legs will get quite stumpy. This is all natural before pupation.

"I would like permission to post image, credited to you, to a Manitowoc County pictoral checklist that I will create."

Janeen answers, "Thanks so much for answering and so quickly! I would be honored to have you post the image credited to me. Would it be of any use to you to try to get a better picture? I took it in kind of a hurry with a cheap camera because I was excited to find out what it was. I may have to write back to you if I have any further questions. Is there a way to find out if it is male or female? Will it stay as a pupa all winter? If so, where should I store the container? What are my chances it will make it to moth stage?

"I am fascinated to find out it naturally pupates underground. I can't quite imagine how the moth gets out when ready."

"I see you are from PEI. I have never been there, but several years back we took a camping trip in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. That is quite a long drive from here, but it sure was beautiful.

"Thanks again for taking time to help, and for sharing your wealth of knowledge!"

Picture is okay. I do not know if you can sex them by examining the pupa. I believe it will probably overwinter in pupa stage, but it may emerge in two to three weeks so be prepared for either eventuality. I store my overwintering pupae in sandwich sized ziploc or gladware plastic containers, lids on tight, no air holes. They are like tupperware containers.

I store my cocoons and pupae in the tubs I have mentioned above in the crisper compartment of my refrigerator. My wife has one compartment for lettuce and cucumbers, etc., and I have the other compartment for cocoons and pupae. i would not put the pupae into cold storage until mid to late October.

As long as the caterpillar has not been parasitized, you have an excellent chance of seeing an adult moth emerge.

Under natural conditions, the sweating and wiggling that the larvae does in its subterranean pupation chamber, acts to moisten and compact the soil and almost "cement" it into a moderatly humid overwintering chamber. When the moth is ready to emerge, it will wiggle to the surface by telescoping its abdominal segments inward, sticking the sharp point of its abdomen into the soil to block downward movement while it expands the abdominal segments to push itself out of the chamber and upwards through the tunnel. It repeats these contractions and expansions until it reaches the surface where it will be able to split open the pupal shell, emerge as a moth, and then climb, hang and inflate its wings by pumping fluid into its wing veins.

More info on storage and emergence container via article linked at top of page. Best of luck."

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 Manitowoc 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.

Please also send your sightings to BAMONA, an excellent online resource which has replaced USGS.

Many thanks to Janeen Koch who has provided another update with the following image of an almost entirely black Hyles lineata larva.

Hyles lineata, Manitowoc, Wisconsin,
October 6, 2013, courtesy of Janeen Koch.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Ceratomia amyntor WO, Elm Sphinx, Four-horned Sphinx: Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), cherry (Prunus). Both pale green and brown forms. Diagnostic four horns near head.

Ceratomia undulosa WO, Waved Sphinx: Fraxinus, Ligustrum, Quercus, Crataegus, Chionanthus virginicus Spiracular ovals decidedly red; anal horn is off-white to pinkish laterally.

Dolba hyloeus WO, Pawpaw Sphinx: Pawpaw (Asimina triloba), littleleaf sweetfern (Myrica aspleniifolia), possum haw (Ilex decidua), inkberry (Ilex glabra), Tall Gallberry Holly (Ilex coriacea).

Lapara bombycoides WO, Northern Pine Sphinx: This caterpillar is also without the anal horn and feeds on pines. The long stripes and reddish brown afford great camouflage.

Lintneria eremitus WO, Hermit Sphinx: Note triangular bump on thorax. Beebalm (Monarda), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), and sage (Salvia).

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, Five-spotted Hawkmoth: Tomato Hornworms: Black horn. Larvae feed on potato, tobacco, tomato, other plants in nightshade family (Solanaceae).

Sphinx canadensis WO, Canadian Sphinx: Uncommon. White ash (Fraxinus americana), blueberry (Vaccinium). More likely black ash.

Sphinx chersis WO, Northern Ash Sphinx. Great Ash Sphinx: Pale bluish green. Head has pair of yellow lateral bands meeting at apex. Oblique, lateral stripes: pale, bordered anteriorly with darker green. Ash, lilac, privet, cherry, quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, Wild Cherry Sphinx: Hide by day, feed primarily on cherry, plum, apple at night. Amelanchier nantuckensis in Massachusetts, Michigan on Prunus serotina. Note purple oblique lines.

Sphinx gordius WO, Apple Sphinx: Apple (Malus), sweetfern (Myrica), Carolina rose (Rosa carolina), blueberry and huckleberry (Vaccinium), white spruce (Picea glauca), American larch (Larix laricina), alder (Alnus).

Sphinx kalmiae WO, Laurel Sphinx: Black on head, lateral lines, horn, abdominal legs is diagnostic. Lilac and fringe.

Sphinx luscitiosa WO, Canadian Sphinx, Clemen's Sphinx: Willow (Salix), poplar (Populus), birch (Betula), apple (Malus), ash (Fraxinus), waxmyrtle (Morella), northern bayberry.

Sphinx poecila WO, Poecila Sphinx: If you have blueberries in the woods, then you probably have the Poecila Sphinx. Widespread throughout Wisconsin.

Sphinx vashti WO, Snowberry Sphinx: Common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), coralberry (S. orbiculatus). Note two golden lines of slightly raised bumps, one just behind head, other on thorax.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO, Walnut Sphinx: Walnut,d butternut (Juglans), hickory (Carya), alder (Alnus), beech (Fagus), hazelnut (Corylus), hop-hornbeam (Ostrya).

Pachysphinx modesta WO, Modest Sphinx, Poplar Sphinx: Larvae feed on poplars and cottonwood.

Paonias excaecata WO, Blinded Sphinx: Willows, birches, and cherries. I have also found them in the wild on oak in eastern Canada.

Paonias myops WO, Small-eyed Sphinx: Wild cherry species are the favorites as larval foodplants, but eggs will also be deposited on birches and other forest trees. Varying degrees in amount of red markings along sides.

Smerinthus cerisyi WO, Cerisy's Sphinx; Pale green, 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.

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, 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.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini Tribe:

Hemaris diffinis WO, Snowberry Clearwing: Snowberry (Symphoricarpos), honeysuckle (Lonicera), Coralberry, viburnums, Blue Dogbane (Apocynum), dwarf bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera). Horn black, yellow base.

Hemaris gracilis WO, Slender Clearwing, Graceful Clearwing: Blueberries including low bush blueberry (Vaccinium vacillans), laurel (Kalmia), all in heath family (Ericaceae).

Hemaris thysbe WO, Hummingbird Clearwing: Orangey-pink prepupal form. The lateral line runs from S1 to blue horn. Viburnum, related plants.

Philampelini Tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, Achemon Sphinx: Grape (Vitis), Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), vines, ivies (Ampelopsis). Both a light (green) form and a darker (tan/brown) form. Note six "segmented" oblique lines.

Eumorpha pandorus JK, Pandorus Sphinx: If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you might encounter this species. Note the five large white ovals. Orangey-brown and green forms also.

Eumorpha pandorus prepupal larva, Manitowoc, August 22, 2010, courtesy of Janeen Koch.

Macroglossini Tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, Nessus Sphinix: Virginia creeper, Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), cayenne pepper (Capsicum). Larvae are green until the final instar.

Darapsa choerilus WO, Azalea Sphinx: Azalea, Viburnum, progress very rapidly. Larva, left, on Viburnum cassinoides readying for pupation. Color change from green to light burgundy-brown indicates imminent change.

Darapsa myron WO, Virginia Creeper Sphinx, Grapevine Sphinx: If you have foodplants indicated in common names, you probably have this myron. Lower wings: orange. Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Grape (Vitis), Ampelopsis, Viburnum.

Deidamia inscriptum WO, Lettered Sphinx: Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus). Alternating yellow and greyish-green rings across back distinguish this larva.

Hyles gallii WO, Bedstraw Hawk Moth, Gallium Sphinx: Larvae come in black and in brown forms and often feed on Epilobium (fireweed).

Hyles lineata WO/JK, White-lined Sphinx: Highly varied. Willow weed (Epilobium), four o'clock (Mirabilis), apple (Malus), evening primrose (Oenothera), elm (Ulmus), grape (Vitis), tomato (Lycopersicon), purslane (Portulaca), Fuschia. Red/black swellings split by dorso-lateral lines.

Hyles lineata fifth instar, black form, Manitowoc, October 6, 2013, Janine Koch

Sphecodina abbottii WO, Abbott's Sphinx: Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), hide on the bark of their host plants during day. Virginia creeper would also be suitable host. Also a dark form without the green patches. Note "raised eye", replacing anal horn.

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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