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Banded Sphinx Moth Caterpillars?

Banded Sphinx Moth Caterpillars

Banded Sphinx Moth Caterpillars?
Location:  Irmo, South Carolina
August 30, 2010 2:08 pm
Dearest Bugman,
Love the website. Just found it the other day. I have been taking lots of pics of dragonflies, but my questions are about some caerpillars I’ve found. The first photo is of two cats on a type of primrose that grows in the water at the edge of the pond. Unfortunately, I hadn’t noticed the cats until after my DH had weed-whacked most of the primroses down, but there are still a few plants left. The second photo is one of the cats after I had brought him inside. I’m keeping it in a plastic bug box for now. I’m feeding it the plants it was on. I thought it would eat more, but there has been frass and the cat has grown and changed color. The second pic shows him now (three days after I found him). Will the indoor temp negatively affect it? It’s about 90 degrees outside and about 70 inside. The last pic is a large (about 3” long) cat that is also feeding on the primroses. I am pretty sure the first pic is a Banded Sphinx moth cat, but not sure about the last one. One of my flowerbeds has petunias and moonflowers and we thought there was a baby hummingbird coming to feed late in the evening, but now we know it was one of the big moths.

Banded Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

Hi Laura,
All of your caterpillars are Banded Sphinx Moth Caterpillars,
Eumorpha fasciatus.  According to Jim Tuttle on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website:”In my experience the caterpillars of this species are the most variable of all of the sphingids.”  That statement is supported on BugGuide where many color variations of the Banded Sphinx Moth Caterpillars are posted.  The temperature change from 90 to 70 degrees may slow growth a tiny bit, but it will not have a negative effect on the development of your caterpillars.  Banded Sphinx Caterpillars, unlike the caterpillars of most members of the family which are known as Hornworms, does not possess a caudal horn.  Your caterpillars will appreciate some nice soil in which to bury themselves to pupate.

Banded Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

2 Responses to Banded Sphinx Moth Caterpillars

  1. Sarah says:

    I put lots of grass in my glass aquarium for my bandied sphinx that we caught on the side of a pond while fishing, and assumed that they eat leaves… so I put Grass and leaves in the aquarium as well as large leaves from a flower plant growing outside of my house… He has not eaten any of the leaves or grass and is getting shorter by the day. He pooped a lot on day one of captivating him, and has nearly halved his length, since…(which has been about 4-5 days) Is he dying? Please advise.
    Concerned Catterpillar Captain

    • bugman says:

      According to BugGuide: “Larvae feed on Evening Primrose, Oenothera species, Water Primrose, Ludwigia species, and other related plants (Onagraceae).” Grass and random leaves will not sustain your Banded Sphinx Caterpillar and without the correct food, it will starve. It is also possible that it is preparing to pupate. BugGuide also notes: “Mature larvae leave host foodplant to bury themselves in an underground cavity in fall. Caterpillars pupate during winter, then crawl out of their burrows in Spring (Appear May-August) as Moths.”

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