Currently viewing the category: "Hornworms"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Giant caterpillar burrowing under dead leaves
Geographic location of the bug:  Miami, florida
Date: 03/22/2019
Time: 03:06 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi there! My students and I found this giant caterpillar traveling down a tree trunk and o haven’t been able to identify it. It’s about 5-6” in length and after it reached the ground it burrowed under th dead leaves in the ground and stayed there.
How you want your letter signed:  Nadia in miami

Fig Sphinx

Dear Nadia,
This large caterpillar is a Fig Sphinx,
Pachylia ficus, and it was on the ground searching for a place to pupate among the leaf litter.  There must be a fig tree near the sighting.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Ohhhh
Geographic location of the bug:  ORAN PARK nsw
Date: 03/03/2019
Time: 06:14 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hay bug man. I’m hoping you can tell me what sort of bug this guy or gal is. Found it out the back today and have never screen one before
How you want your letter signed:  Curious mummy

Gardenia Bee Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Curious Mummy,
This is a Hornworm, the larva of a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae.  We are confident it is the Gardenia Bee Hawkmoth Caterpillar which is pictured on Butterfly House and on FlickR.  Do you have a gardenia growing near the sighting?

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Horn worm
Geographic location of the bug:  Waiotahe Valley, Bay of Plenty
Date: 02/06/2019
Time: 05:15 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi there.
What do they eat? Are they harmful? Found on ex forestry block!
How you want your letter signed:  Gertie

Hornworm of a Convolvulus Hawkmoth

Dear Gertie,
This is a Hornworm, the larva of a Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae.   Its color, markings and the look of its horn lead us to believe this is the larva of a Convolvulus Hawkmoth,
Agrius convolvuli, which is pictured on New Zealand Invertebrates where it states:  “Favoured host plants in NZ are the bindweed and kumara.”  Butterfly House also provides a list of food plants.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Caterpillar Identification
Geographic location of the bug:  Canary Islands
Date: 01/31/2019
Time: 03:51 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello Bugman,
I was wondering you could identify the caterpillar in the attached picture? A person that I know found several of them on a plant in Indiana. I tried to identify it on my own but with no luck. I thought it was some sort of hawk moth larva.
Thank you,
How you want your letter signed:  Emma

Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Emma,
This is a very colorful Whitelined Sphinx, a highly variable caterpillar when it comes to markings and coloration.  Here is a BugGuide image that greatly resembles your individual.

Correction:  Thanks to a comment from frequent contributor on Sphingidae submissions, Bostjan Dvorak, we now agree that this is the caterpillar of the related Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth, Hyles euphorbiae, and according to BugGuide:  “Introduced from Europe since the 1960s to combat leafy spurge.”  Sphingidae of the Americas does not list the Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth from Indiana, but BugGuide does list it in nearby Michigan, leading us to speculate that the range of the introduced moth is increasing with the spread of Leafy Spurge.

Update: Hello Daniel Marlos,
Thank you very much for the feedback. That’s definitely interesting. I am just confused because although this specimen looks pretty much exactly like the Spurge caterpillars it lacks the double spots found on the side of Spurge caterpillars. Also, the big spots are filled in with color not just white. Could it be perhaps a variable pattern?
I have been told by the person who took the photo that this caterpillar was found with several other of these same types of caterpillars. Not that this piece of information helps but perhaps shows that it’s not just an anomaly?.
Thank you again for taking the time to identify this caterpillar.
~ Emma

Hi Again Emma,
There is often much variation between individuals of the same species.  Often knowing the plant upon which an insect was feeding is a tremendous clue in determining identity.  The greatest evidence we have that this is a Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth Caterpillar was provided in the comment sent by Bostjan where he identified the plant upon which the individual was feeding as Spurge in the genus
Euphorbia.  That food plant would negate our original supposition that this might be a very colorful Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar.

CORRECTION:  February 25, 2019
Hi Daniel,
I made a mistake in the location of the caterpillar we thought was a leafy spurge moth, which clears up this confusing identification. This caterpillar was found on Gran Canaria Island, Spain which is off the coast of NW Africa. It is actually the Barbary spurge hawkmoth (Hyles tithymali).

Thanks for the update Emma.  We aren’t going to ask how the Canary Islands were confused with Indiana.  We have images of the Barbary Spurge Hawkmoth Caterpillar in our archives.

Haha, yeah definitely an odd switch up. My dad showed me the picture that his friend had taken. He didn’t ask his friend where he took it and assumed he took it in Indiana. I asked my dad again since the identification didn’t quite make sense and that’s where I got the true location which makes so much more sense. Thank you!

At least we got the genus correct originally.


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Large horned caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Kealakekua, HI  1650 feet
Date: 01/08/2019
Time: 05:48 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Cat brought this in today and we rescued it.   Pinked spotted hawkmoth?
How you want your letter signed:  Sue

Privet Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Sue,
While this is not a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar, it is a hornworm from a different species in the same family.  We believe this is a pre-pupal Privet Hawkmoth Caterpillar,
Psilogramma menephron, which is pictured on Sphingidae of the Americas where it states:  “This caterpillar is green with a strong curved horn on its tail pointing backwards, and a series of diagonal white stripes on its sides.  The coloration of the Caterpillar looks very striking, but when the Caterpillar is on a Privet bush, the spacing of the stripes is about the same as that of the leaves, and the Caterpillar becomes very hard to see. This use of colour to hide is a form of camouflage called disruptive coloration.  The Caterpillar is most easily located by observing the black fecal pellets under the bush where it is feeding.  When disturbed, the Caterpillar lifts the front of its body, and bends its head underneath, exposing a series of white warts on its shoulders.  It grows to a length of about 90–110mm and has both green and brown forms.”

Thank you so much!    With your info I was able to find out more and wish now I’d killed it as is a newer species here in  Hawaii .
Sincerely, Sue

Update:  January 28, 2019
Daniel, just found another that could be our caterpillar and is an endangered native.   I’ve seen a sphinx moth similar to this a few times so hopefully this is it.
Thanks, Sue

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Unusual caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Whangarei Heads, Northland, New Zealand
Date: 01/05/2019
Time: 03:35 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We found this unusual caterpillar lying in the full sun on a walking track in about 27 degree heat. It appeared dead so tried flipping it over to help identify what it was and it objected by vigorously flipping itself back over not giving us a chance to see its underside. We decided to move it off the path and it curled itself onto a twig so that we could move it without touching it which enabled us to see its set of stumpy legs. We have never seen such a large caterpillar previously.
How you want your letter signed:  Phil


Dear Phil,
This is a Hornworm, the larva of a Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae.  The common name Hornworm refers to the prominent caudal horn that most members of the family possess.  Hornworms are harmless to people.  We will attempt a species identification for you.

Update:  Thanks to Bostjan Dvorak, we are please to provide a Convolvulus Hawkmoth which is pictured on T.E.R.R.A.I.N.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination