Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America; July 29, 2014
Updated as per BAMONA; July 29, 2014

Berkshire County, Massachusetts
Sphingidae Larvae

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

Forty-four Sphingidae species are listed for Massachusetts on the BAMONA website as of July 29, 2014. Some of those species are migrant adult strays which would not have breeding populations in Berkshire County. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Berkshire County (Twenty-three species: Amorpha juglandis; Ceratomia amyntor; Lapara bombycoides; Lapara coniferarum; Pachysphinx modesta; Paonias excaecata; Paonias myops; Smerinthus cerisyi; Smerinthus jamaicensis; Sphinx canadensis; Sphinx chersis; Sphinx kalmiae; Sphinx luscitiosa; Sphinx poecila; Darapsa choerilus; Darapsa myron; Darapsa versicolor; Deidamia inscriptum; Eumorpha pandorus; Hemaris thysbe; Hyles gallii; Hyles lineata; Sphecodina abbottii; are reported on BAMONA as of July 29, 2014).

It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the caterpillars you are likely to encounter. I (Bill Oehlke) have added substantially to the list, including species that have not yet been officially documented for your county, but which I feel are likely present.

Please help me develop this list with improved, documented accuracy by sending sightings (species, date, location), preferably with an electronic image, via email to Bill Oehlke.

Please also send your sightings to BAMONA, an excellent online resource.

Visit Berkshire County Sphingidae: Adult Moths

Visit Massachusetts Catocala: Underwing Moths

If you are travelling, you can find active Sphingidae checklists for all coutries in North, Central, and South America and the Caribbbean via the links at North, Central, South American Sphingidae checklists

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Ceratomia amyntor, Elm Sphinx; Four-horned Sphinx: Caterpillars show both brown and green forms and are unmistakeable due to four horns on the thorax (near the head). Larvae feed on Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), and cherry (Prunus).

Ceratomia catalpae, 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 undulosa, Waved Sphinx: Note the pinkish-orange tail, spiracles outlined in red and the cream stripes on the head.
The dramatic color change from the dorsal yellow-green to the lateral light greyish-blue is not always as intense as in this image.

Dolba hyloeus, Pawpaw Sphinx: Note the smooth skin, blue-black horn and small black spiracles. Pawpaw is the primary host. Littleleaf sweetfern, possum haw, inkberry, tall gallberry holly and others are also utilized.

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

Manduca jasminearum, Ash Sphinx: Larvae feed on ash in the Fraxinus genus. Syringa and Ulmus have also been reported. Note the black anal horn. questionable, possibly limited to southeastern Massachusetts.

Manduca quinquemaculatus, Five-spotted Hawkmoth: Note the solid black horn and dark spiracular rings. In addition to the white oblique lines, there are fainter white rings, especially on the back. I suspect if you grow tomatoes, you are likely to encounter it.

Manduca sexta, Carolina Sphinx: Note the red horn and black dots anterior to the white oblique lines. If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it.

Paratrea plebeja, Plebeian Sphinx: Larvae feed at night, hiding on the underside of stems during the day. Preferred hosts are common trumpetcreeper (Campsis radicans), Florida yellow-trumpet (Tecoma stans), lilac (Syringa species), and passionflower (Passiflora species).

Sphinx canadensis, Canadian Sphinx: This species is not common at lights, and is not often reported anywhere. Larval host may be exclusively black ash (Fraxinus nigra). Variable appearance but always with granulous (darker protrusions) on pinkish horn.

Sphinx chersis, Northern Ash Sphinx; Great Ash Sphinx: Note pale blue horn and the creamy-white stripes on head. The yellow form has a red horn. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry and quaking aspen.

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

Sphinx poecila, Poecila Sphinx: If you have blueberries in the woods, then you probably have the Poecila Sphinx. The green form is more common.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis, 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, Modest Sphinx; Poplar Sphinx: This moth is not officially recorded in your county. It is fond of poplars and willows and is most likely present.

Paonias astylus, Huckleberry Sphinx: It would be more common in southern Massachusetts and is a relatively uncommon species. Only rarely are they seen in Maine. I never saw one in New Jersey.

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

Paonias myops, 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 jamaicensis, 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 cerisyi, Cerisy's Sphinx; Greatly resemble modesta larvae, 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. Larvae: green heads bounded dorsally with pale yellow inverted "V".

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

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

Hemaris gracilis Slender Clearwing; Graceful Clearwing: Hemaris gracilis is distinguished from similar species by a pair of red-brown bands on the undersides of the thorax, which varies from green to yellow-green dorsally and sometimes brown with white underneath. They have a red abdomen. unlikely

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon, 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 darker (tan/brown/reddish) forms. Note six "segmented" oblique lines.

Eumorpha pandorus, 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, 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, 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, Virginia Creeper Sphinx; Grapevine Sphinx: If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this species nearby. The lower wings are orange. Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Grape (Vitis), Ampelopsis, and Viburnum.

Darapsa versicolor, 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.

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

Hyles lineata, White-lined Sphinx: Highly varied, feed on great diversity of plants: 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.

Sphecodina abbottii, 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.

Many Sphingidae larvae darken considerably when they are mature and ready to pupate. The darker colouration probably camouflages them against tree/shrub bark and soil/leaf litter as they descend and excavate subterranean chambers in which to pupate.

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