Hi, I was so glad to find your site – My daughter and I are fascinated by the unusual (and usual) insects we find in SE Canada(Ottawa, Ont.Canada). This beautiful caterpillar was discovered on a Virginia Creeper vine (Gini). We have seen many caterpillars and we have fun watching the larva pupate and emerge as butterflies. No one, uncluding experts has been able to ID Gini, and we would love to know what she is(especially since she wandered off from her spot and is hanging somewhere, or dug into some plant. It’s been 2 weeks since her hiatus, and still nothing.
Thank you,
Sherleen and Faith Smithson
P.s. She’s 4 inches long

Hi Sherleen and Faith,
Gini is one of two different color varieties of the Abbot’s Sphinx Caterpillar, Sphecodina abbotti. According to Holland: “This beautiful hawkmoth is found throughout the Eastern States and southern Canada and ranges westward as far as Iowa and Kansas. The larva feeds on the Vitaceae and is not uncommon on Ampelopsis. The caterpillar is not provided with an anal horn, but has instead an eye-like tubercle, or boss, at the anal extremity. It has the habit when disturbed, of throwing its head violently from side to side, a movement found in other sphingid larvae, …” Holland doesn’t mention the two color varieties. We found that information on this site which states: ” Two very different forms: form pictured here unmistakable; other form brown, streaked with white and black, and oblique lines that run through spiracles. Head with broad dark band to either side of triangle, edged outwardly with pale band. Caudal horn replaced by eyelike bump. Food: grape family. Caterpillar: May through September; presumably 2 generations in Deep South, 1 generation in North.” By the way, your photo is much nicer than the one pictured on that site. Guessing by the size of your caterpillar, we can only guess that it has buried itself in the ground to pupate.

Thank you, Daniel, now I know she has to be in one of my plants! There are wild grape vines growing with the Virginia Creeper. so I imagine Gini was traveling for the ground when I was clearing the patch. We are so pleased about your site, because we’re always coming across something unique. I wish I could have sent in pictures of a pink(magenta), smooth-skinned caterpillar and a shell pink moth(1 1/2″ wingspan). Anyway, Faith and I will continue to watch your site. Thank you so much,
Sherleen Smithson
P.S. My oldest son did the photo – he inadvertently killed a Dobson Fly because it terrified him – he didn’t know what it was until we found a picture in a book. I think he’ll be a bit more merciful in the future. He brought us a gorgeous Imperial Moth and took photos of it and the Sphinx(probably Tomato Hornworm) Moth we found. If you could use the pictures, we can send them.

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