Ontario, Canada
Sphingidae Larvae

Sphinx chersis, The Braeside Alvar, McNab/Braeside Township, Ontario, Canada,
September 20, 2006, courtesy of Jennifer Busch.

Forty-five Sphingidae species are listed for Ontario, based on an intial list provided to me by Dave Clermont for Quebec. I (Bill Oehlke) adapted the list, and then amended it based on information provided by Jeff Crolla.

Twelve of those forty-five species would be quite rare and probably occur as adult moths as irregular migrants or strays rather than as breeding and overwintering populations. The larvae of the migrants/strays are not depicted here.

Larvae often show considerable variation.

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.

This page is dedicated to Tim Dyson in appreciation for his help with Sphingidae sightings and images in Ontario. Many thanks to other Ontario residents who have provided many images and much data.

Eumorpha achemon third or fourth instar, Windham Centre, Norfolk County,
July 27, 2011, Lynda Amorim

When the immature pinkish-red larva sent by Lynda sheds its skin to move into its final instar, it will lose its anal horn, and may become a rather drab, light brown or become a bright orangey-brown. I have not seen pictures of any that retain the reddish hue in final instar.

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

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Ceratomia amyntor common, 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 maybe, Catalpa Sphinx: Young caterpillars feed gregariously on Catalpa species (Catalpa bignoniodes and C. speciosa) in Bignoniaceae family, skeletonizing foliage. Larvae are mostly white in early instars. generally more southerly species

Ceratomia undulosa common, 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.

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

Lapara bombycoides abundant, Northern Pine Sphinx

If you have pines, you probably have this species. It flies on P.E.I.

Lintneria eremitus present, the Hermit Sphinx: The upperside of the forewing is gray-brown with wavy lines, black dashes, and one or two small white spots near the center of the costa.

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

Manduca sexta JPB, Carolina Sphinx: Note the red horn and black dots anterior to the white oblique lines.

If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it. occasionally encountered in southern Ontario

Manduca sexta, London, Ontario, September 1, 2008, Jack P. Brooks.

Sphinx canadensis present, Sphinx canadensis, Canadian Sphinx, uncommon, not often reported anywhere, present; reported from southern Ontario. I believe they are present in Nova Scotia. Larval hosts: white ash (Fraxinus americana), blueberry (Vaccinium).

Sphinx chersis abundant, Northern Ash Sphinx; Great Ash Sphinx: present, common. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen. Note pale blue horn.

Sphinx chersis fifth instar, Ottawa, Ontario, August 1, 2010, courtesy of Don Chartrand.

Sphinx drupiferarum abundant, Wild Cherry Sphinx: This species is officially reported in Ontario. We have them on P.E.I., but I do not see them nearly as frequently as I see the other Sphingidae.

Sphinx gordius, Apple Sphinx: Fw upperside: brown with black borders through brownish gray with paler borders to pale gray with no borders. It is probably Sphinx poecila that is present in Ontario.

Sphinx kalmiae present, Laurel Sphinx: Lower forewings: predominantly brownish-yellow with fairly wide dark bar along inner margin. Wings hug body, giving moth long slender look. Anal horn: blue with extensive black markings in final instar.

Sphinx kalmiae fifth instar, Marmora, Ontario, late July 2009, Damian MacSeáin.

Sphinx luscitiosa present, Canadian Sphinx; Clemen's Sphinx: This one is reported from Ontario, but it is generally not common.

Sphinx poecila abundant, Poecila Sphinx: If you have blueberries in the woods, then you might have the Poecila Sphinx. They are pretty common here on Prince Edward Island.

Larvae can be purple or green.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis FS/ML/ USGS, Walnut Sphinx: Larvae feed upon Walnut,d butternut (Juglans), hickory (Carya), alder (Alnus), beech (Fagus), hazelnut (Corylus), hop-hornbeam (Ostrya).

Pachysphinx modesta USGS, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

Larvae feed on poplars and cottonwood.

Paonias excaecata common, the 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 present, Small-eyed Sphinx: Named for small eye-spot in hindwing, this moth has wide distribution; probably common in Ontario. I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as Florida.

Smerinthus cerisyi common, Cerisyi's Sphinx: found in southern regions of all Canadian provinces and in northern border states. One-eyed sphinx is also found in US eastward of Continental Divide. Common on P.E.I..

Smerinthus jamaicensis present, 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:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris thysbe common, Hummingbird Clearwing: Also an orangey-pink prepupal form. Lateral line runs from S1 to the blue horn. Hemaris thysbe larvae feed on viburnum and related plants. generally more eastern species

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

Hemaris gracilis present, the Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing

This day-flying moth is less common.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon present, Achemon Sphinx: Grape (Vitis), Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) ather vines/ivies (Ampelopsis). Mature larvae occur in many colours: light green; tan/brown; orangey. Note six "segmented" oblique lines. Immatures are often pinkish-red with long, curved anal horns.

Eumorpha achemon fourth instar, Windham Centre, Norfolk County, July 27, 2011, Lynda Amorim

Eumorpha pandorus common, 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.

Eumorpha pandorus fifth instars on Engelmans's Ivy, August 1, 2011, Kingston, Gayle Beauregard.
Eumorpha pandorus green fifth instar, Mississauga, Peel Region, August 21, 2014, Caymen Vieira.

Macroglossini tribe:

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

Darapsa choerilus common, Azalea Sphinx: Azalea, Viburnum; rapid growth. Larva to left on Viburnum cassinoides is getting ready to pupate. Color change from green to light burgundy-brown indicates pupation is imminent.

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

Darapsa versicolor present, the Hydrangea Sphinx

If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the Hydrangea Sphinx.

Deidamia inscriptum common, the Lettered Sphinx: This species has been recorded in Ontario, and it is an early season flier. Larvae feed on grape foliage and on Virginia Creeper.

Hyles euphorbiae introduced, the Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth: This species has been introduced into Ontario to try to control the spread of leafy spurge.

Hyles gallii present, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx: This species is reported in Ontario.

Some years I see them on P.E.I., some years, I do not. Larvae can be quite variable.

Proserpinus flavofasciata present, the Yellow-banded Day Sphinx: This day flier is officially reported from Ontario, but it maynot be common. Look for them in meadows near coniferous forests.

Sphecodina abbottii common, 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.

Sphecodina abbottii (dark form) larva, Kenora, July 18, 2014, Irma and Greg Gerhmann
Sphecodina abbottii (green blotch form) larva, Muskoka, August 1, 2014, Emilie Shaw

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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