Subject: Elephant Worm
Location: Rome, Georgia
October 13, 2012 9:58 pm
I am trying to figure out what kind of worm this is. My daughter and I was out at the river in Rome, Georgia over at Ridge Ferry Park and we came across this worm. It is pretty interesting. I wasn’t able to get a photo of it when it was rolled up it looked like the 2 spots on its head was eyeballs.
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This is the caterpillar of a Tersa Sphinx, and unfortunately, your best photo has cropped off one of its most distinguishing features, the caudal horn.
here are a few sites with the correct WORM that I was asking about…
It is an ELEPHANT HAWKSHEAD MOTH Caterpillar
With all due respect, though there is a similarity in appearance, the Elephant Hawkmoth is not found in Georgia and the Tersa Sphinx does include Georgia as part of its normal range. The PBase photo is from Pembrokeshire, Wales. The Wikipedia website, which we rarely quote from, states: “The species is found throughout Britain and Ireland. Its range extends across Europe, Russia, and into China, northern parts of the Indian subcontinent, Japan and Korea (though not Taiwan). Introduced specimens have been found in British Columbia.” The Down Garden Services website is also a UK site. Here is a BugGuide photo of a Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar from Douglas County, Georgia, and here is another BugGuide photo of a Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar from Deluth, Georgia. We would not discount the possibility that an Elephant Hawkmoth Caterpillar might be introduced to Georgia, but we find that possibility unlikely. BugGuide does note: “Reportedly introduced to British Columbia ca. 1995.” Furthermore, the markings on your caterpillar are closer to those of the Tersa Sphinx than to the Elephant Hawkmoth Caterpiller, though we acknowledge the similarity. We will also check with Sphingidae expert Bill Oehlke to get his opinion.
Bill Oehlke settles the dispute.
The person who submitted the photo probably won’t believe me either, but it
is definitely Xylophanes tersa.
You might invite him or her to have a look at elpenor at
http://tpittaway.tripod.com/sphinx/d_elp.htm and suggest he count the number
of “eyespots” along the sides of the caterpillar.
Elpenor also is not found in Georgia.