Currently viewing the category: "Hornworms"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What bug is this?
Location: Southern Oregon
July 21, 2016 1:41 pm
Location: Medford, Oregon
Bug: Looks and moves like a caterpillar, but it can pull it’s head into it’s body
Markings: Looks like an eye near it’s tail
I raise Monarch butterflies and it has the same waste product as a monarch caterpillar, so it must be a leaf eater.
Very unusual insect, and quite large, I’ve never seen anything like it.
Signature: Tracy

Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar

Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Tracy,
The Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar,
Eumorpha achemon, in your image is the only member of its genus found in Oregon.  It is a member of the Hawkmoth or Sphinx Moth family Sphingidae, and the caterpillars from this family are called Hornworms.  The Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar is a little unusual among hornworms because it loses its horn as the caterpillar grows and molts, and all that remains is a caudal bump which you likened to an eye.  This may serve as protective mimicry, and its ability to retract its head, which you also observed, is a defense mechanism as well.  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas site, food plants include:  “Parthenocissus quinquefolia Virginia creeper, Vitis Grape, Ampelopsis Vines and Ivies” so we are guessing there is one of those plants near where the sighting occurred.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Caterpillar
Location: Cape Cod, MA
July 16, 2016 3:14 pm
Just curious what this is. I’ve found a few of them this summer on the trumpet vines growing on my pergola.
Signature: Rick

Plebeian Sphinx Caterpillar

Plebeian Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Rick,
Had you not included the host plant trumpet vines, we might have had more difficulty identifying what we believe to be a Plebeian Sphinx Caterpillar,
Paratrea plegeja.  Our usual “go to” site for Sphinx Moth identifications, Sphingidae of the Americas, does not have images of the caterpillar.  Then we searched for the family and trumpet vine and we found the Maryland Insect site with a single image of the Plebeian Sphinx Caterpillar.  There are also images on BugGuide, but the caudal horn is blue and the one in your image looks black.  BugGuide lists the species as “uncommon” and lists the larval food plants as:  “Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans), Yellow Trumpetbush (Tecoma stans), passionflower (Passiflora spp.), and lilac (Syringa spp.).”   We have written to Bill Oehlke who runs Sphingidae of the Americas for confirmation and we hope you don’t mind if he posts your image to his site as well.  

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: caterpillar
Location: Bulgaria
July 14, 2016 5:55 am
We found this little guy crawling on our balcony. He’s pretty tiny, so maybe his coloring will be different as he grows. We’d like to try and watch him grow, but aren’t sure what he’d eat. We’re in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Signature: Deborah

Hummingbird Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Hummingbird Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Deborah,
This looks like a Hummingbird Hawkmoth Caterpillar,
Macroglossum stellatarum, a species that is included on Wild About Britain.  According to UK Moths:  “The larvae feed on bedstraw (Galium), and some of these may hatch and give rise to autumn adults in an influx year.”  According to Lepidoptera and their Ecology:  “In Central Europe every year countless caterpillars are destroyed by excessive mowing of the meadows and roadsides, but this has probably little impact on the migratory species.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Big tan orange worm on my grapevine
Location: Carmel Valley
July 2, 2016 4:21 pm
Hi,
We have an ornamental grapevine in Carmel Valley CA. Summer temps range from 75-100. We spotted three large articulated tan/orange insects on our vines. There appear to be six or so sets of “legs@ that suspend and move the along the vine. What is it???
Signature: Curious in Carmel

Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar

Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Curious in Carmel,
This is an Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar, and though they will eat the leaves from grape and and other vines, they will not do any lasting harm to the plants.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Xanthopan morgani caterpillar drawing
Location: Afrotropical area
May 1, 2016 4:08 pm
Dear Daniel,
today I’d like to contribute a drawn sketch of Xanthopan larva and pupa, which are seldom found and seen and have not yet been shown to public as photographs for quite some decennies now, a kind of mystery considering the role and popularity of the famous moth in contexts of coevolution theories and orchid pollination – and the fact that it is spread in the entire African rainforest zone including Madagascar, and not rare at all, according to reported findings of adults… Maybe it will inspire or help somebody to catch sight of one on leafs or on a twig of an Annona plant (Annona squamosa, A. muricata, A. reticulata and other Custard apple- relatives and a few vines (Xylopia, Uvaria) from the Annonaceae-family, on which the larvae reportedly feed, or eventually another plant species not yet known as its foodplant… ); it is blue-green with whitish lateral stripes and slightly hairy, similar to the neotropical Neococytius caterpillars…
Best Thanks and wishes for the wonderful and helpful site,
Bostjan
Signature: Bostjan Dvorak

Sketch of Xanthopan by Bostjan Dvorjak

Sketch of metamorphosis of  Xanthopan morgani by Bostjan Dvorak

Thanks so much Bostjan for allowing us to post your wonderful drawings of this marvelous moth whose existence was theorized by Charles Darwin many years before it was actually discovered since the great evolutionary theorist hypothesized such a moth must exist to pollinate the orchid from Madagascar with a blossom possessing a ten inch throat.  Darwin knew only a Sphinx Moth would have a proboscis long enough to extract the nectar.  We had to correct the perspective of your images and we also increased the contrast.  We hope our digital enhancements meet with your approval.  We hope that one day one of our readers will supply us with the images you so long to see.  The coiled sheath for the proboscis is amazing.

Sketch of larva and pupa of Xanthopan morgani by Bostjan Dvorak

Sketch of larva and pupa of Xanthopan morgani by Bostjan Dvorak

 

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Caterpillar found on my Chili plant
Location: Gauteng, South Africa
April 26, 2016 12:54 am
Hi there, I found a huge caterpillar on my chili plant and tried to google it and find more information about it. I found some images that relate to the one I have – It looks like a Laurel Sphinx caterpillar, but the region and habitat it is usually found in does not correspond with mine.. So I am not sure what it is. Can you please identify this for me?
Signature: M Kruger

Death's Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear M Kruger,
The reason your individual resembles the Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar is that your Death’s Head Hawkmoth Caterpillar is in the same family.  Caterpillars of the Death’s Head Hawkmoth are one of our most common identification requests from South Africa.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination