What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Oahu Caterpillar
Location: Pearl Harbor, Oahu, HI
July 31, 2015 10:38 am
I can’t figure out what this caterpillar is, I’ve seen several on google that are close, but not exactly the same, the closest match I’ve seen was a caterpillar that’s indigenous to Europe.
I live on Oahu and this guy was hanging out on my fence- I only noticed him because my dog kept trying to eat him.
Any help would be great!
Signature: Deanna H.

Unknown Hornworm


Dear Deanna,
This is a Hornworm, the caterpillar of a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae.  According to the Sphingidae of Hawaii page, there are 13 known species in Hawaii, and your caterpillar does not match any of the images on the site, though several species do not include caterpillar images.  It is possible that this is a newly introduced species since many plants and animals on Hawaii are not native.  We will contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can provide any information.

Bill Oehlke Responds
Agrius cingulata with reduced brown along the diagonal stripes.
Please see if I can get permission to post.

Update from Bill Oehlke:  August 28, 2016
I would not like to say that George is wrong. It could be Blackburn’s
Sphinx, but I still favour A. cingulata. For me I would have to see the adult
to make a final, totally confident judgement.
Unfortunately I do not think that is possible. Maybe over the next several
years someone else will capture a similar specimen, put it in a jar to
pupate and then will photograph the adult moth.
I look for blackburns to have a much darker anal horn, but perhaps that is a
variable feature.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii

7 Responses to Hornworm from Hawaii: Pink Spotted Hawkmoth or endangered and endemic Blackburns Sphinx???

  1. George Akau says:

    Dear Bug Friends,

    I work with the rare and endangered native Hawaiian Blackburns Sphinx Moth https://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/fauna/bsmoth.html and your picture looks just like it. Pearl Harbor, Oahu is in the Hawaiian land division ( ahupua’a) of ‘Aiea. ‘Aiea is the Hawaiian word for a rare and endangered native Hawaiian tree, which is a host plant species for this bug. Hope this information helps and that native Hawaiian gets help too. George

    • bugman says:

      Dear George,
      Thanks so much for providing a comment and also for providing a link. We will write back to Bill Oehlke to get input from him on your comment. He does have some nice larval images of Blackburn’s Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas site.

  2. Leilani says:

    I found this caterpillar in Kaneohe today.
    Heʻs traveled a lobg way from Pearl Harbor.

  3. Mikah Richardson says:

    I spotted an extraordinary large moth tonight around 10 pm in Kaneohe (Kahaluu). It was frantically buzzing around one of our outdoor porch lights. I thought it was a hummingbird bird, as I could hear it’s wings flapping from across the house. I did not get to see it’s markings because of it’s intense flight speed.. However,I did see it’s insect-like body, wings,and it’s obvious attraction to light. Are these “Sphinx moths” rare? Thank you!

  4. Mike meadors says:

    I found a huge Caterpillar in hilo today matching these pics. The thing is over 4 inches long. Would any one want it?

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