Cochise County, Arizona
Sphingidae Larvae

Lintneria istar, fifth instar, courtesy/copyright of Robert Behrstock.

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke at
Comments, suggestions and/or additional information/sightings are welcomed by Bill.

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

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Robert Behrstock and Noel McFarland. Robert has sent me beautiful images of larvae of the less common Lintneria species from his yard in Cochise County. The larvae have been turned over to Noel McFarland for rearing to confirm identifications when the adult moths emerge.

A special thanks also goes to Bruce Walsh for his tremendous contribution to the identification of Arizona Sphingidae. Many of Bruce's images of larvae are used with permission on this site.

Jim Tuttle also assists when the determinations become difficult.

Robert A. Behrstock sent me these spectacular images, September 29, 2007, of a larva he encountered on Salvia greggii in his garden in Cochise County, Arizona.

Jim Tuttle did the identification and offers the following comments:

"Great shots. All of the penultimate instars of both Lintneria (Sphinx) istar and Lintneria (Sphinx) separatus that I have reared in the past have been mundane green. Given that the larva is molting, I believe that the orange and black is actually the 5th instar "showing" through. It is L. separatus. I suspect that if they had seen the larva one day earlier, it would have just been greenish."

Lintneria separatus, fourth instar molting, Cochise County, Arizona,
September 29, 2007, courtesy of Robert A. Behrstock, tentative id by James A. Tuttle.

Lintneria separatus, fourth instar molting (head), Cochise County, Arizona,
September 29, 2007, courtesy of Robert A. Behrstock, tentative id by James A. Tuttle.

Many thanks also to Barbara Miller who has sent me a beautiful image of a very striking fourth instar Lintneria separatus larva from her garden in Portal, Cochise County, Arizona. The image is linked from below the thumbnail and also from the separatus file. Barbara is going to try to rear it through and send images of fifth instar, pupa and adult moth. I very much hope she has success.

Fifty-three Sphingidae species are listed for Arizona on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Cochise County (thirty-three are reported on U.S.G.S.). It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the caterpillars you are likely to encounter.

A "WO" after the species name indicates that I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present, although unreported. A "USGS" indicates the species is confirmed on USGS site.

Many thanks also to Karen Riggs who sends the Eumorpha larva below. Karen writes, "The photos were all taken in parts of what is technically the Sonoran Desert. However, the caterpillars were all on domesticated grapevines at a country home at the same location. The exact location is near the Mule Mountains outside of Bisbee, Arizona, USA, near the Mexican border. After looking at some of your photos, I noticed that the Sphinx moth caterpillars all have that big collar around their heads. Your photos are quite good too. Any guess on the small yellow and blue ones?"

I replied, "That is a big help. I can confirm the Eumorpha are either Eumorpha achemon or Eumorpha typhon. Both species occur in green, tan and reddish orange forms. Not all the Sphingidae have the retractable heads, but that is a characteristic of the Eumorpha species. Most of the Sphingidae larvae have an anal horn. The Eumorpha species also have the horn in the early instars, but lose it in the final instar. The other caterpillars are from the Arctiidae family of moths. I am pretty sure (not positive) they are Dysschema howardi."

Rich Hoyer has corrected the other grape feeders, below, to Harrisina metallica.

Eumorpha achemon or Eumorpha typhon, fifth instar on grape, near Bisbee, Cochise County, Arizona,
October 5, 2008, courtesy of Karen Riggs.

Harrisina metallica fifth instars on grape, near Bisbee, Cochise County, Arizona,
October 5, 2008, courtesy of Karen Riggs.

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.

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

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, USGS Pink-spotted hawkmoth,

Larvae feed on plants in the Convolvulaceae family, especially Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato) and in the Solanaceae family, especially (Datura) (jimsonweed) and related plants in the Americas. There is also a brown form. Look for very large, dark spiracular circles.

Ceratomia sonorensis, USGS, Sonoran Sphinx,

Larvae feed on ash (Fraxinus] of the Oleaceae family. probably rare

Cocytius antaeus, WO The Giant Sphinx, stray. In the last instars, larvae are uniform green with a dark purple center back line and a very sharp white posterior side slash with some dark green on both sides of it. very unlikely in larval stage

Lintneria istar USGS, the Istar Sphinx

Istar Sphinx larvae feed primarily on mints (Salvia). Larvae can be considerably darker as per the image at top of the page.

I think istar, separatus and smithi are all being reassigned to the Lintneria genus.

Lintneria separatus USGS/RB/BM, the Separated Sphinx

Salvia greggii has been confirmed as a larval host by Robert A. Behrstock.
Jim Tuttle, tentative id, writes, "All of the penultimate instars of both Lintneria (Sphinx) istar and Lintneria (Sphinx) separatus that I have reared have been mundane green."

Lintneria separatus fourth instar on Salvia greggi, Portal, September 7, 2010, Barbara Miller.

Lintneria smithi USGS, Smith's Sphinx

Larvae feed on mints (Salvia) and are mottled white and grey-brown with a purplish tint.

Manduca florestan USGS

Prominent, extended side slashes determine this species.
Yellow side slashes often occur on larvae feeding on foliage with yellowish underside veins. In the penultimate instar, the anterior three slashes are accentuated. (stray)

Manduca muscosa USGS, Muscosa sphinx

Larvae feed on Verbesina gigantea, Lasianthaea fruticosa, Eupatorium albicaule, Viguiera dentata and Eupatorium albicaule of the Asteraceae family, Lantana camara of the Verbenaceae family, and probably on plants from the families Solanaceae, and Bignoniaceae. Helianthus annuus and Jacaranda caroba have also been reported as larval hosts.

Manduca occulta USGS, Occult sphinx

Larvae feed on plants in the nightshade (Solanaceae): Cestrum glanduliferum, Cestrum racemosum, Solanum accrescens and Solanum hazenii are used in Costa Rica.

Manduca quinquemaculata USGS, 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). There is also a very beautiful brown form to the left.

Manduca rustica USGS, the Rustic Sphinx
The caterpillar has numerous white nodules on top of the thorax and seven pairs of oblique, blue-gray stripes along the side of the body. The horn is white at the base and blue-gray at the tip. Many hosts are utilized.

Manduca sexta USGS, the Carolina Sphinx

Tobacco Hornworms, equipped with a red-tipped horn at the end of the abdomen, are true gluttons and feed on tobacco and tomato, and occasionally potato and pepper crops and other plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).

Sagenosoma elsa USGS, the Elsa Sphinx

Larval hosts are unknown, but larvae probably feed on Lycium in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).

Note the strong oblique black lines and the black anal horn.

Sphinx asellus USGS, the Asella sphinx

Larval hosts are Manzanita and Arctostaphylos of the Ericaceae family. Look for a blue horn and strong purple colouration.

Sphinx chersis USGS, the Great Ash Sphinx

The larvae are pale bluish green. The head has a pair of yellow lateral bands meeting at the apex.

Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx dollii USGS, the Doll's sphinx

Larval hosts are Alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana) and other juniper species.

It is amazing to me how well the larval spiracular patches and false feet match the pattern and colour of the juniper bark.

Sphinx libocedrus USGS, the Incense Cedar Sphinx

Larvae feed on New Mexican forestiera (Forestiera neomexicana), on Forestiera angustifolia and on little leaf ash (Fraxinus gooddingii) in the Oleaceae family. There are green and dark forms and all larvae tend to darken just before pupation.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx occidentalis USGS, the Big Poplar Sphinx

Larvae feed on cottonwood and poplar (Populus) and willow (Salix).

Larvae are very chunky with little to distinguish them from Pachysphinx modesta.

Paonias myops USGS, 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.

To the left a second/third instar larva rests on pin cherry. The "red heart" marking readily identifies this species. generally more eastern species; possibly

Smerinthus cerisyi USGS, 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 saliceti USGS, the Salicet Sphinx, flies in valleys and along streamsides from Mexico City north to west Texas, southern Arizona, and extreme southern California. There are two colour morphs, one a pale green and one lime green. Larvae feed on willow (Salix) or poplar (Populus).

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos clavipes USGS, the Aellopos Sphinx.

Larvae feed on various species of the Rubiaceae (madder) family. Randia rhagocarpa, Randia monantha, Randia aculeata, Guettarda macrosperma and Genipa americana are listed as hosts. Probably only further south.

Aellopos titan USGS, the Titan Sphinx.

Larvae feed on seven year apple, Casasia clusiifolia, common buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis, and white indigoberry, Randia mitis. Randia monantha, Randia aculeata, Albizzia adinocephala and Randia grandifolia, all in the madder family (Rubiaceae), also serve as hosts. rare

Callionima falcifera WO. The narrow, flattened head of the larva is clearly visible in the lateral view, left below. It might be in Cochise County as a stray.

Callionima parce USGS, the Parce sphinx

may or may not be present in Cochise County. Sorry, no larval image available at this time.

Enyo lugubris the Mournful sphinx USGS,

Larvae probably feed on Vitus tiliifolia and other members of the Vitaceae family: Vitis, Cissus, Ampelopsis. In Florida larvae have been reported on larvae on Possum Vine (Cissus sicyoides) and Pepper Vine (Ampelopsis arborea).

Erinnyis alope the Alope Sphinx USGS,

Larvae feed on papaya (Carica papaya), nettlespurge (Jatropha), and allamanda (Allamanda).

Erinnyis crameri, the Cramer's Sphinx, USGS

Larvae feed on various plants in the dogbane family (Apocynaceae): Rauvolfia ligustrina, Rauvolfia tetraphylla, Stemmadenia obovata. There is also a brown form.

Erinnyis domingonis the Dominican Sphinx WO,

Sorry, no larval image is available at this time.

Erinnyis ello USGS, the Ello Sphinx

Larvae feed on papaya (Carica papaya), Cnidoscolus angustidens, poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), guava (Psidium species) and saffron plum (Bumelia angustifolia/Bumelia celastrina). Manilkara bahamensis, Willow Bustic (Bumelia salicifolia) and Painted Leaf (Poinsettia heterophylla) are also hosts.
Nice socks! Larvae show considerable variation.

Erinnyis lassauxii USGS, the Dominican Sphinx

Larvae feed on papaya (Carica papaya), Manihot esculenta and various plants (Macroscepis obovata) in the milkweed family.

Erinnyis obscura, the Obscure Sphinx, USGS
Larvae feed on Rauvolfia ligustrina, Rauvolfia tetraphylla, Stemmadenia obovata, Philibertia, Cynanchum, papaya (Carica papaya), Asclepiadaceae, Blepharodon mucronatum, White vine (Sarcostemma clausum) and Morrenia odorata.

Hemaris thetis WO,

Larval host plants include Snowberry (Symphoricarpos), honeysuckle (Lonicera), Coralberry, viburnums, high bush cranberry and hawthorn (Crataegus).

Horn is black with a slightly lighter base. This western species was formerly classified as H. diffinis or H. senta. Those species west of the Continental Divide are now classified as H. thetis.

Isognathus rimosa, the Rimosus Sphinx, USGS
Females lay eggs on Frangipani (Plumeria species), including Plumeria rubra Cuba, and Plumeria alba, Plumeria obtusa and Plumeria rubra Puerto Rico.

Pachylia ficus, the Fig Sphinx, USGS

Females feed and lay eggs on fig leaves, especially Strangler Fig (Ficus aurea). Ficus carica, Ficus microcarpa, Ficus religiosa, Ficus pumila, Ficus gamelleira, Ficus prinoides, Ficus pumila and Artocarpus integrifolia are also listed as hosts.

The extreme variability of larvae is shown to the left.

The few images that have been sent to me for identification help are usually as per the upper image.

Pseudosphinx tetrio, the Tetrio Sphinx, WO
These caterpillars defoliate the Frangipani tree (Plumeria spp.) They generally start at the tip of a leaf and work back. The caterpillar is velvety black with yellow rings and an orange head. They can get up to six inches long. Larvae also feed on Allamanda cathartica and probably other members of the Dogbane family: Apocynaceae.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon USGS, 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.

Eumorpha satellitia licaon USGS, the Satellite Sphinx

In Eumorpha satellitia the white panels are completely enclosed in black whereas in E. vitis the ends of the black panels remain open. Also, satellitia has a faint subdorsal longitudinal stripe that touches the top of the white panels that is lacking in vitis.

I suspect there is also a green form.

Eumorpha typhon USGS, the Typhon Sphinx

Larvae occur in both green and a darker brown form. The head and some thoracic segments are often retracted when the larva is disturbed. Larvae feed on grape foliage.

Eumorpha vitis WO, the Vine Sphinx
Eumorpha vitis vitis larvae feed upon grape foliage (Vitis) and other vines (Cissus): Cissus pseudosicyoides and Cissus rhombifolia and Cissus sicycoides. I suspect there would be a brown form.

Note five, smooth, narrow, oblique white lines.

Macroglossini tribe:

Hyles lineata USGS, 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.

Proserpinus terlooii USGS the Terloo sphinx

The larval hostplants are documented as Boerhaavia species (at least two--B. coccinea and coulteri have produced larvae). Boerhaavia is in the plant family Nyctaginaceae. There is a pale green form.

Proserpinus vega WO, the Vega sphinx

Larvae probably feed on (Onagraceae) including evening primrose (Oenothera), gaura (Gaura), and willow weed (Epilobium).

Xylophanes falco USGS, the Falcon Sphinx

There is a single large eye on the thorax and six white circles down the side. There are extensive bands of white dots girdling the abdomen.

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.

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