Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Smith boys who provided Sphecodina abbottii larva images; July 11, 2008
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 2008
Updated as per BAMONA, September 22, 2013

Polk County, Wisconsin
Sphingidae Larvae

Sphecodina abbottii larva, Frederic, Polk County, Wisconsin,
July 11, 2008, courtesy of Smith boys.

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; now BAMONA) or anticipated (twenty-seven by Bill Oehlke) in Polk County.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to the Smith boys who found a Sphecodina abbottii larva on July 11, 2008, in Frederic.

The boys write, "Thanks for your interest and the information. We live in the small town of Frederic in northern Polk county, Wisconsin. Although we all discovered the larva, Benjamin Smith should get the credit as his sharp eyes first noticed it despite its clever camouflage."

The images provided are posted top and bottom of this page.

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 Polk 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.

Visit Polk County Sphingidae: Adult Moths.

Visit Wisconsin Catocala Underwing Moths.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Ceratomia amyntor WO, Elm Sphinx, Four-horned Sphinx: Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), cherry (Prunus). There are both green and brown forms. The four horns near the head are diagnostic.

Ceratomia undulosa WO, Waved Sphinx: Fraxinus, Ligustrum, Quercus, Crataegus, Chionanthus virginicus. In the fifth instar, the spiracular ovals are decidedly red and the anal horn is off-white to pinkish laterally.

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

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, Five-spotted Hawkmoth: Tomato Hornworms, black horn at the end of the abdomen. Larvae feed on potato, tobacco, tomato, and other plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).

Sphinx canadensis WO, Canadian Sphinx: Uncommon, not often reported anywhere.

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

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. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, Wild Cherry Sphinx: Larvae 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: 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, 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. They are probably widespread throughout Wisconsin, but are very much under reported.

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

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. There are varying degrees in the amount of red markings along the 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: Birches and cherries, expecially fond of poplars and willows. Red markings on sides vary greatly from specimen to specimen.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini Tribe:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

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

Hemaris diffinis larva, Osceola, Faith Gustafson.

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

Hemaris thysbe WO, Hummingbird Clearwing: Orangey-pink prepupal form. Lateral line runs from S1 to blue horn. Viburnum and related plants. generally more eastern species

Philampelini Tribe:

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

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

Macroglossini Tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, Nessus Sphinix: Virginia creeper, Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), and 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 getting ready to pupate. Color change from green to light burgundy-brown indicates imminent pupation.

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

Deidamia inscriptum WO, 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.

Hyles euphorbiae IM, Leafy Spurge Hawk Moth Leafy spurge. Conspicuously colored, with pronounced "horn" near rear end. Young larvae variously patterned with green, yellow, black; older larvae red, black, yellow, white color pattern. Mature larvae 10 cm in length; when disturbed, they regurgitate slimy green liquid.

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, 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.

Sphecodina abbottii BS, Abbott's Sphinx: Feed at night on grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), hide on bark during day. Virginia creeper. Also a dark form without green patches. Note "raised eye", replacing anal horn.

Sphecodina abbottii larva, Frederic, July 11, 2008, Smith boys.

Sphecodina abbottii larva, Frederic, Polk County, Wisconsin,
July 11, 2008, courtesy of Smith boys.

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.

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