Subject: Arizona Cocoon bug
Location: Tucson AZ
February 19, 2013 5:21 pm
What’s it? I find some hanging in trees and some buried in the ground.
Signature: karen

Sphinx Moth Pupa

Dear Karen,
This is a Sphinx Moth Pupa from the genus
Mandeca and we are guessing you found it in the vegetable patch near where tomato plants are grown.  There are two species found in your area that feed on plants in the tomato family Solanacea.  They are the Five Spotted Hawkmoth, Manduca quinquemaculatus, and the Carolina Sphinx, Manduca sexta.  The Caterpillars, Pupae and adult moths are quite similar in both species.  You may read more about the Carolina Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas website, and you can find information on the Five Spotted Hawkmoth on the Sphingidae of the Americas webstie as well.  We don’t know of any Sphinx Moths that have pupae that hang in trees, and we suspect that is an entirely different identification request.

Location: Arizona

10 Responses to Sphinx Moth Pupa

  1. Sammy says:

    We found the exact same cocoon hanging in a Texas Ranger bush in Tucson, Arizona at our school on the westside of town. The caterpillars looked like hornworms. What is it if it is not a sphinx moth since it was hanging on the bush?

  2. anne says:

    I found what appears to be a very large sphinx pupa. It is 3.25 inches long with the hook up over its back. I was planting flowers in a pre-existing flower garden and I guess I dug it up. I grow tomatoes but they were about 30-40 ft. from this area. Is this a cocoon of a tomato hornworm? I always seem to have the hornworms that like to strip my tomato plants. Any general information would be appreciated,

    • bugman says:

      There are two closely related species, the Carolina Sphinx and the Five Spotted Hawkmoth, and they both have pupae similar to what you have described.

  3. mattmaves says:

    I find these where I live in Tucson, on my concreted back patio, that have fallen from the tree above. I was confused as to what they were because they were not found in the ground, there is no way they could find there way from buried to my fenced in back patio. But I am pretty sure they are Sphinx moths, from a Tobacco worm. I am kinda not sure what to do with the two I found now, they weren’t originally buried, but do I bury them? and where? Any help would help? Thank you.

    • bugman says:

      perhaps they were dug up by a dog or other animal. You can try putting them a few inches down in some soft soil.

  4. Jessica says:

    There is what I believe to be a Waved Sphinx caterpillar (live in Tucson, AZ) and it has been on the ground since Saturday. It’s been very cold at night and I saw it on Monday and I thought it was dead, but it’s not. I went to move it off of the sidewalk and it’s still alive but laying mostly on it’s side. Is it dying or getting too cold? Is there anything I can do to help it? It has that rosy purple color and from what I have read it should be going underground? Thanks!

    • bugman says:

      You can move it to a sheltered location with soft earth and let nature take its course. Many caterpillars never make it to the adult stage because of parasitization. Cold weather does slow insects down as well.

  5. Ed says:

    Hi. I found one of these pupas in Tucson after raking some leaves from a tree well. I’m not sure where it came from. I’m guessing from under the leaves or slightly buried. I hung it in a tree for a few days but noticed a bunch of ants crawling on it. It still moves and looks intact, so I ended up burying it a few inches in soft soil after reading this post. Thank you for the information! I’ll keep my eye on it so see what happens. We have hawk moths that visit our night blooming cereus flowers, so I’m guessing it’s one of these.

  6. Sherry Hummel says:

    Thank you! Saw my first sphinx moth, thinking it was a hummingbird, camping on the north side of Wheeler Mtn in northern NM and again at a nursery in the Colorado foothills only to return home to Michigan’s mitten NW little finger area to find we have them here too. Now love finding sphinx moths in my zone 5 butterflies/ruby-throat hummer garden(s) and to know what to look for and do should I find the pupa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.