Created/dedicate as per personal communication with Dan Jackson, October 3, 2011
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, October 3, 2011
Updated as per BAMONA, October 3, 2011

Vernon County, Wisconsin
Sphingidae Larvae

Ceratomia catalpae fifth instar, Chaseburg, Vernon County, Wisconsin,
feeding en masse on Catalpa tree, October 2, 2011, courtesy of Dan Jackson.

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

Thirty-two Sphingidae species are listed on BAMONA for Wisconsin. Not all of the species are reported (None by BAMONA as of October 3, 2011) or anticipated (thirty-five by Bill Oehlke) in Vernon County.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Dan Jackson. Dan sent me the image of the Ceratomia catalpae larva at top of this page.

Dan indicates that a number of these larvae have just about stripped his thirty foot tall Catalpa Tree.

The sighting by Dan is indicative of a slightly more northerly range for this species in Wisconsin than previously thought.

Thanks to Dan (DJ), also for his many sighting reports and images of Sphingidae adults from Vernon County.

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 your 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.

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Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Ceratomia amyntor WO, 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 catalpae DJ, the Catalpa Sphinx

This caterpillar is one of the few North American Sphingidae that feed in large groups. Colouration is distinctive.
The larvae are much more spectacular than the moths. Catalpa is the larval host.

Ceratomia catalpae larva, Chaseburg, October 2, 2011, Dan Jackson

Ceratomia undulosa DJ, 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.

Ceratomia undulosa adult moth, Chaseburg, August 9, 2010, Dan Jackson

Dolba hyloeus WO, generally more easterly, 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, 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. questionable

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, 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 sexta WO, the Carolina Sphinx

Note the red horn and black dots anterior to the white oblique lines.

If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it. Emily Balsley found one on her pepper plants.

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). Sorry, no larval image available.

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

This one is reported from Richmond and from northeastern New Jersey into southern Canada.

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. questionable

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 DJ, the Walnut Sphinx

Amorpha juglandis larvae feed upon Walnut and butternut (Juglans), hickory (Carya), alder (Alnus), beech (Fagus), hazelnut (Corylus), and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya).

Amorpha juglandis, Chaseburg, June 1, 2011, Dan Jackson

Pachysphinx modesta DJ, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

Larvae feed on poplars and cottonwood.

Anal horn all but disappears in final instar.

Pachysphinx modesta adult moth, Chaseburg, July 15, 2007, May 30, 2010, Dan Jackson

Paonias excaecata DJ, the Blinded Sphinx

Larval skin is grainy in appearance.

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

Paonias excaecata adult moth, Chaseburg, July 1, 2009, Dan Jackson

Paonias myops DJ, 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 moth, Chaseburg, June 1, 2011, Dan Jackson

Smerinthus cerisyi DJ, 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 cerisyi adult moth, Chaseburg, June 1, 2008, Dan Jackson

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, 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.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini Tribe:

Hemaris diffinis DJ, 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, Stoddard, July 15, 2009, Dan Jackson

Hemaris gracilis WO, slight possibility, 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 DJ, 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.

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. questionable

Eumorpha pandorus WO, 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.

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, 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 moth, Chaseburg, June 3, 2008, Dan Jackson

Darapsa versicolor WO, generally more easterly, the Hydrangea Sphinx: Larvae feed on Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), and waterwillow (Decodon verticillatus). Note small head which can be retracted into the thorax. questionable

Deidamia inscriptum DJ, 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 moth, Chaseburg, May 7, 2011, Dan Jackson

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 DJ, 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, Chaseburg, August 16, 2010, Dan Jackson

Sphecodina abbottii WO, 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.

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