Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Joan F. Rickert, August 2, 2008
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, August, 2008

Taylor County, Wisconsin
Sphingidae Larvae

Paonias excaecata, Medford, Taylor County, Wisconsin,
found on cherry, August 2, 2008, courtesy of Joan F. Rickert.

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 14, 2008) or anticipated (twenty-seven by Bill Oehlke) in Taylor County.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to the Joan F. Rickert who sent me the Paonias excaecata larva top of this page. Joan has sent me many imgaes of Sphingidae adults and larvae from her home area in Medford, Taylor County, Wisconsin.

Joan writes, September 18, 2013,

"Hi Bill,

"To my surprise this evening I found three Hermit Sphinx Moth caterpillars on my monarda!!! These are the only sphinx moth caterpillars I found this season-and Iím always looking. Sending pictures but will try and get better ones tomorrow. The last time and only time I saw one of these caterpillars was August 8, 2006. I sent pictures to you then. It seems very late to find them. Would the moths be flying around yet? Going out to my gardens again tonight to look for more. I plan to rear them. Can you tell from their size if they are in their last instar? Thanks for your time.

Joan Rickert"

I reply,

"Hi Joan,

"Thanks for thinking of me.

"I am getting many submissions of larvae images so I think these larvae are probably just near the mature stage of the last brood of the season. I would not expect many Sphingidae to still be flying in northern Wisconsin.

I think these are fifth instar larvae as I believe there is a dorsal horn in the first four instars. They probably just need another few days to mature.

Best of luck.

Bill Oehlke

Lintneria eremitus Medford, Taylor County, Wisconsin,
September 18, 2013, courtesy of Joan F. Rickert.

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 Taylor 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, replacing USGS.

Visit Taylor 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), and cherry (Prunus). Both green and brown forms. The four horns near the head are diagnostic.

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

Ceratomia undulosa on ash, Medford, Taylor County, July 4, 2011, Joan F. Rickert

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

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 JFR, Hermit Sphinx: Note triangular bump on the thorax. Larval hosts are various species of beebalm (Monarda), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), and sage (Salvia).

Lintneria eremitus, three final instar larvae on monarda, Medford, September 18, 2013, Joan F. Rickert.
Immatures and mature larvae, August 2006, Medford, Joan F. Rickert.

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

Sphinx canadensis WO, Canadian Sphinx: uncommon, not often reported anywhere,but it might be present in Taylor County. Larval hosts are white ash (Fraxinus americana) and blueberry (Vaccinium).

Sphinx chersis JFR, 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, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx chersis, Medford, July 23, 2011, Joan F. Rickert.

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, huckleberry (Vaccinium), white spruce (Picea glauca), American larch (Larix laricina), alder (Alnus).

Sphinx kalmiae JFR, Laurel Sphinx: In final instar, black on head, lateral lines, horn and on abdominal legs are diagnostic. Lilac and fringe.

Sphinx luscitiosa WO, Canadian Sphinx, Clemen's Sphinx: This one is reported from Richmond and from northeastern New Jersey into southern Canada.

Sphinx poecila WO, Poecila Sphinx: If you have blueberries in the woods, then you probably have Poecila Sphinx. Widespread throughout Wisconsin, but very much under reported.

Sphinx vashti WO, Snowberry Sphinx: Common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) and on 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 JFR, Modest Sphinx, Poplar Sphinx: Larvae feed on poplars and cottonwood.

Paonias excaecata JFR, 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 JFR, 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 JFR, 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 with pale yellow inverted V.

Smerinthus jamaicensis JFR, Twin-spotted Sphinx: 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:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris diffinis JFR, 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, low bush blueberry (Vaccinium vacillans), laurel (Kalmia), all in heath family (Ericaceae).

Hemaris thysbe JFR, 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: Larvae feed upon 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 this species. Note five large white ovals. Orangey-brown and green forms also. unlikely

Macroglossini Tribe:

Amphion floridensis JFR, Nessus Sphinix: In additon to Virginia creeper larvae accept Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), and cayenne pepper (Capsicum). 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 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 JFR, 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. Rred/black swellings split by dorso-lateral lines.

Hyles lineata adult: May 31, 2007; larva July 10, 2009 and July 14, 2010; Medford, Joan F. Rickert

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

Ceratomia undulosa, Medford, Wisconsin, courtesy of Joan F. Rickert

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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