What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

abbott sphinx moth caterpillar
July 7, 2010
Hello, I notice you have a number of photos of Abbott Sphinx Moth caterpillars. I would like to share these photos I took last summer of one I found in my sister’s garden while removing some overgrown wild grape vines in case they are useful to you. Thank you for all the additional information you have provided on this site!
I was amazed at how chubby this caterpillar was and the noise it made at me. I photographed it on my gardening gloves to give it some scale. Hope this may be useful to you.
I enjoy photographing bugs and am glad to have found your site.
London, Ontario, Canada

Abbott's Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Alison,
Your photos are great.  They clearly show the caudal bump on the rump end of the caterpillar.  Most Sphinx Moth caterpillars have a caudal horn, giving rise to the common name Hornworm for the Caterpillars.  The Abbott’s Sphinx,
Sphecodina abbotti, loses its horn after the initial instars, and it is left with this bump that resembles an eye.  Eyespots like this are known as ocelli, a term that is also used for primitive eyes found on many insects.  BugGuide has a nice explanation of ocelli.  The ocellus on the Abbott’s Sphinx may confuse and startle a predator like a bird into thinking that the succulent caterpillar might be a threatening snake.  Your photos nicely illustrate how the Abbott’s Sphinx Caterpillar might be confused for a snake.

Abbott's Sphinx Caterpillar

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

7 Responses to Abbott's Sphinx Caterpillar

  1. vampie says:

    Oh my gosh he’s so cute! He looks like a one eyed hungry baby snake!

  2. dee says:

    I live on long Island Ny . just found one of those creatures on the stem of a vine.
    hoping it was a cecropia moth, no luck.
    thanks for the pix
    dee from long island

  3. ashley says:

    are sphinx caterpillars poisonous

  4. I saw one in my wash room and it was indeed aggressive. I tried to get it out and it kept flipping. Never seen one like that before so i had to research it, i live in Jamaica.

  5. Judith says:

    I saw one crawling out on my river rock surrounding ivy on my house. It was very aggressive snarling and flipping around as I tried to study it. Did manage to get it in a glass jar at which time it backed it’s end without the eye over the rim. Brushed it back down with a leaf and it again presented its end without the eye up over the rim of the glass jar. This time I just watched. It opened up an orafice and expelled a brownish orange fluid which first looked like a small balloon before the fluid discharged and ran down the inside of the glass. And then it died. I was horrified and so sad. Next time I’ll just take pictures.

  6. Judith says:

    Forgot to put location. I live in Iowa. Jkd

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