Five Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar: Dark Morph

Please help identify this caterpillar?
Location: San Antonio, TX
November 7, 2011 10:54 am
What kind of butterfly or moth will this caterpillar become? This well-camouflaged caterpillar is about 5 inches long when extended. It was spotted in my yard in San Antonio, TX on November 6, 2011.
Signature: Diane Duesterhoeft

Five Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Hi Diane,
We wish your photo showed a bit more of this impressive caterpillar, one of the Hornworms in the family Sphingidae.  We are relatively confident this is an unusual dark color variation on the common Five Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar,
Manduca quinquemaculatus, a species that feeds on the leaves of tomatoes and related plants.  Was there a nearby tomato patch?  You can compare your image to a dark individual on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Thank you so much for your response, Daniel. There were no tomato plants in the vicinity, but the yellow diagonal marking do seem to be similar.

The caterpillars of the Five Spotted Hawkmoth will also feed on native plants that are not cultivated, including nightshade and jimson weed.  It is also possible that we have incorrectly identified the species, though it appears that the caudal horn is black, another identifying feature.

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