What is this caterpillar
August 24, 2009
I live in Western Newfoundland. My grandson found the attached caterpillar in his back garden. what abeauty…The “horn” is at the back end. I put is in a container and addedafew shrub leaves which is quickley began to feed on. I’ve since given it its freedom (I may be sorry :O)
Keith P.
Wetsern Newfoundland, Canada

Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar

Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Keith,
This beautiful caterpillar is a Laurel Sphinx, Sphinx kalmiae.  We quickly located it on Bill Oehlke’s awesome website.

Thank you for your prompt reply and interesting literature.  It certainly is a very beautiful creature.   I’m in deep trouble with my wife if it decides to breed in the garden – we have Lilac L
Keith Piercey
Corner Brook

Hi again Keith,
WE will try to get you off the hook in the interest of preserving your marital bliss.  Though a large Sphinx Caterpillar can consume a considerable quantity of leaves, this does not do lasting damage to the plant.  By the time your Sphinx Caterpillars appear in a given year, the lilacs have finished blooming.  We doubt that there would ever be more than a few Laurel Sphinx Caterpillars on a given lilac.  Some moths lay all their eggs in one location, but Sphinx Moths tend to be more selective, and place single eggs on distant leaves.

7 Responses to Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar

  1. Jacalyn says:


    On my way home from Pennsylvania I found a great Ashe sphinx caterpiller, saving it from a crow. (Friendly) put it in a tank with lilac , dirt, and leaves and so far avoided touching it because it’s tried hitting me with it’s horn. What is his horn for? It it just for poking, or can it sting or does it really hurt? (I named him friendly because he was in a friendly’s parking lot where I found him)

    • bugman says:

      We must confess that we do not know the function of the horn, but we do know the Sphinx Moth Caterpillars or Hornworms cannot sting.

  2. Alandra says:

    How do I get rid of them? I won’t have any more Moon plants left , they are eating them up.

  3. kashanti says:

    what does sphinx chersis caterpillars eats

    • bugman says:

      You have submitted your question to a posting of a Laurel Sphinx, not a Great Ash Sphinx, but according to BugGuide, Sphinx chersis “Larval hosts are Cherry, Ash, Privet, Lilac, and other allied plants, according to Holland. Powell & Opler sumise that lilac and privot were laboratory rearings and offer the wild hosts as ash (Fraxinus), plum (Prunus), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides).”

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