the Elm Sphinx or 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
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.
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.
This caterpillar is also without the anal horn and feeds on pines.
The long stripes and reddish brown afford great camouflage.
Note triangular bump on the thorax.
Larval hosts are various species of beebalm (Monarda), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis),
and sage (Salvia).
the 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.
Sphinx canadensis, the 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.
the Northern Ash Sphinx or 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.
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.
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).
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.
the Canadian Sphinx or
Larval hosts are willow (Salix), poplar (Populus), birch (Betula), apple (Malus), ash (Fraxinus), waxmyrtle
(Morella), and northern bayberry.
If you have blueberries in the woods, then you probably have the
The green form is more common.
Amorpha juglandis larvae feed upon Walnut and butternut (Juglans),
hickory (Carya), alder (Alnus), beech (Fagus),
hazelnut (Corylus), and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya).
the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx
The anal horn is very rudimantary in final inistar. It is fond
of poplars and
Larvae accept willows, birches, and cherries.
I have also found them in the wild on oak in eastern Canada.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
the Slender Clearwing or 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.
Larvae feed upon Grape (Vitis), Virginia Creeper
(Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and other vines and ivies
Larvae occur in both a light (green) form and darker (tan/brown/reddish)
forms. Note six "segmented" oblique lines.
If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you might encounter
Note the five large white ovals (ovals can be orange on green forms). There are orangey-brown and green
In additon to Virginia creeper larvae accept Grape (Vitis),
ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), and cayenne pepper (Capsicum).
Larvae are green until the final instar.
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.
the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the
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.
Larvae feed on Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens),
buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), and waterwillow
Note small head which can be retracted into the thorax.
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.
WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth
or Gallium Sphinx
Larvae come in black and in brown forms and often feed on
WO, 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
Yellow-banded Day Sphinx:
Penultimate instar is pale green with pair of pale, dorsolateral lines running from head to base of short caudal horn.
Last instar is brown-black with numerous black dots; caudal horn replaced by a black button surrounded by whitish band edged with black.
generally more northerly
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.