Ceratomia undulosa

Ceratomia undulosa
seer-a-TOHM-ee-uhm un-dyou-LOH-suh
The Waved Sphinx
(Walker, 1856) Daremma undulosa

Photo courtesy of Lynn Scott.

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


Family: Sphingidae, Latreille, 1802
Subfamily: Sphinginae, Latreille, [1802]
Tribe: Sphingini, Latreille, 1802
Genus: Ceratomia Harris, 1839 ...........
Species: undulosa (Walker, 1856)


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The Waved Sphinx, Ceratomia undulosa [Wing span: 3 - 4 5/16 inches (7.6 - 11 cm)], is found in Canada from Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia westward to eastern Alberta. In the U.S. it ranges from Maine to Florida westward to the eastern Great Plains and south to Florida, the Gulf Coast, and Texas.

The upperside of the forewing is pale brownish gray with wavy black and white lines and a black-outlined white cell spot. The upperside of the hindwing is gray with diffuse darker bands.

Some individuals are very dark, almost black, and others are light yellowish brown.

Image of Ceratomia undulosa in typical resting pose courtesy of Terry Thormin.


Here on P.E.I. and in the northern portions of its range the single brooded adults generally fly late June to early July. From New Jersey southward and westward there are often two or more broods with as many as six peak flight times in Louisiana beginning in early April, repeating at roughly 30 day intervals.

Both sexes come in to lights and females readily oviposit in paper grocery bags.

Ceratomia undulosa Edmonton, Alberta, summer 2004, courtesy of Evie Uretsky.

Ceratomia undulosa, Jasper County, South Carolina,
March 25, 2006, courtesy of Dr. Wasil Khan.

Ceratomia undulosa, (verso) Jasper County, South Carolina,
March 25, 2006, courtesy of Dr. Wasil Khan.


Little is known about the eclosions of the earth pupators, but many believe pupae wiggle toward the surface just prior to emergence.


Females extend a scent gland from the posterior of the abdomen to lure in the night flying males.

Many thanks to Jillian Burrows who sends the following image of Ceratomia undulosa from her area. Jill writes, "I've contacted you in the past regarding the identification of sphinx moths I had come across while living in the Austin, Texas area. Your website has been truly very informative and of great help when I've gotten the opportunity to raise larvae. All your work on these sites is awe-inspiring!

"This morning I came across a mating pair in the driveway; I'm uncertain of what they are, but felt inclined to send you a photo. I've never seen a pair before, and now I hope to find eggs and/or larvae on the vine food source in the backyard - yay! The photo was taken in Mansfield in southern Tarrant County, Texas. If any more information is needed, please feel free to contact me with any other questions and comments, thank you. I have left the photo in its original size. you may want to crop if necessary."

I reply, "Thanks for thinking of me, Jill. The moths (Ceratomia undulosa, the Waved Sphinx) are quite susceptible to predators while pairing. I suspect the female hatched from an underground pupa whose larva fed on a nearby ash tree or privet or lilac bush. This species is not one of the vine feeders.

"The female will readily lay eggs in an inflated green paper lunch bag, once the pair has separated. She is probably carrying over 200 eggs, so you will probably want to release her after you have obtained some eggs from her. Best of luck."

Ceratomia undulosa pairing, Mansfield, Tarrant County, Texas,
August 25, 2011, courtesy of Jillian Burrows.

Ceratomia undulosa female courtesy of Vernon A. Brou, Jr.


Eggs are pale green and of medium size with incubation lasting about eight days. Larvae prefer ash but do well on privet and lilac (which I use here).

This third instar larva, courtesy of Tim Dyson, seems to have had trouble shedding its old head capsule.

There seems to be little change as the larvae move into the fourth instar.

In the fifth instar, the spiracular ovals are decidedly red and the anal horn is off-white to pinkish laterally. Tim Dyson image.

Ceratomia undulosa, Bismarck, Burleigh County, North Dakota,
August 5, 2011, courtesy of Andi Gladson, via Sandy Erickson, tentative id by Bill Oehlke.

Larvae pupate readily in artificial conditions: Closed container with loose paper towelling in bottom, kept in the dark at 70-75 degrees F. Pupae are shiny, smooth, and chestnut coloured.

Ceratomia undulosa, Medford, Wisconsin, courtesy of Joan F. Rickert

Ceratomia undulosa, Medford, Wisconsin, courtesy of Joan F. Rickert

Just prior to pupation, larvae frequently take on a rosy hue.

Ceratomia undulosa, Morris County, New Jersey, courtesy of Gwendolyn Holland,
via Carol Holland, September 14, 2007, prepupal, id by Bill Oehlke.

Fraxinus, Ligustrum, Quercus, Crataegus and Chionanthus virginicus are also listed as hosts.

Although tongue length is listed at 9.8 mm in W. E. Miller's "Diversity and Evolution of Tongue Length in Hawkmoths (Sphingidae)" in 1997 Number 1, Volume 51 issue of Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, my recollection is that the tongue length exceeds 30 mm as I recall feeding a female a sugar/water/honey solution summer of 1997 in New Jersey.

The pronunciation of scientific names is troublesome for many. The "suggestion" at the top of the page is merely a suggestion. It is based on commonly accepted English pronunciation of Greek names and/or some fairly well accepted "rules" for latinized scientific names.

The suggested pronunciations, on this page and on other pages, are primarily put forward to assist those who hear with internal ears as they read.

There are many collectors from different countries whose intonations and accents would be different.

I do not know the origin of the genus choice Ceratomia, but the first species assigned to this genus is amyntor. Ceratomia may be a combination of cera (gold) and tomia (cutting). Speculation suggests the dark cuttings (streaks) into the golden brown area of the forewing or the golden checkered fringe of that moth.

The species name "undulosa" is for the wavy, undulating markings on the wings.

Visit Ceratomia undulosa, Ogemaw County, Michigan, June 24, 2012, Cindy Mead

Visit Ceratomia undulosa adult moth, Sidney, Kennebec County, Maine, July 28, 2011, courtesy of Steven Lemieux

Visit Ceratomia undulosa larva on ash, Medford, Taylor County, Wisconsin, June 30, 2011, Joan F. Rickert

Visit Ceratomia undulosa adult moth, Medford, Taylor County, Wisconsin, June 30, 2011, Joan F. Rickert

Visit Ceratomia undulosa, Apalachin, Tioga County, New York, June 6, 23, 2011, Colleen Wolpert.

Visit Ceratomia undulosa, Plano, Collin Co., May 28, 2011, Peter F. Assmann.

Visit Ceratomia undulosa, Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, May 24, 2011, courtesy of Ian Miller.

Visit Ceratomia undulosa, Bradford County, Florida, courtesy of Edith Smith.

Visit Ceratomia undulosa, Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, August 16, 2010, courtesy of Saundra Byrd.

Visit Ceratomia undulosa, MV light at McHose Park, Boone County, Iowa, July 13, 2009, Thomas Jantscher

Visit Ceratomia undulosa larva, Story County, Iowa, July 6, 2009, Thomas Jantscher

Visit Ceratomia undulosa, Searcy County, Arkansas, March 23, 2012, Marvin Smith

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