Pandora Sphinx Moth: Essential Facts and Insights

The Pandora Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha pandorus) is a stunning and fascinating creature, known for its unique patterns and size. These mesmerizing moths are marked by their spectacular camouflage, featuring mossy green patterns on their wings and body UWM.

These moths are members of the Sphingidae family, which is known for its large and heavy-bodied insects with long, pointed abdomens. They are commonly referred to as Hawk or Sphinx moths due to their hovering feeding habits near flowers, where they sip nectar with a long proboscis USFS. Additionally, their caterpillars are distinctive, with bright colors, a small horn at the rear, and resembling the shape of a sphinx MDC.

Pandora Sphinx Moth Overview

Scientific Classification

The Pandora Sphinx moth, scientifically known as Eumorpha pandorus, belongs to the animal kingdom (Animalia) and is classified within the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Lepidoptera, and family Sphingidae1 2.

Identification

The Pandora Sphinx moth has a few distinctive features:

  • Wingspan of up to 4.5 inches3
  • Patterned hindwings4
  • Colors range from light green to pinkish-brown5

Adult females are larger than males with wingspans reaching up to 4.5 inches6. Their forewings may appear mossy green, while the hindwings have a pink coloration7.

Habitat and Range

The Pandora Sphinx moth can be found in the eastern parts of North America, ranging from Florida to Texas in the US, and as far north as Nova Scotia and Ontario in Canada8. They are also present in Mexico and the Southeast9. Their habitat includes forests and vineyards10.

Life Cycle and Reproduction

Eggs

Pandora Sphinx moth females lay tiny, spherical eggs individually on their host plant leaves. Examples of host plants include grapevines, Virginia creeper, and Carolina jasmine.

Features:

  • Tiny and spherical
  • Laid singly on host plants

Larvae and Instars

The larvae go through several phases known as instars. Each instar experiences growth, ending with a molt before advancing to the next stage. They feed on host plant leaves during this period.

Characteristics:

  • Multiple instars with molting between each stage
  • Feed on leaves of host plants

Pupa

Once the larvae reach their final instar, they drop to the ground to form a pupa. Pupation occurs in the soil within a small chamber created by the larvae. In warmer seasons, this phase can last for a few weeks, while colder seasons may extend the pupal stage.

Pros:

  • Protective pupal casing
  • Underground pupation provides shelter

Cons:

  • More vulnerable to predators during this stage

Adult Moths

Adult Pandora Sphinx moths emerge from their pupae and exhibit sexual dimorphism, with males and females having distinct characteristics. Males typically have larger, broader antennae to detect female pheromones. Adult moths are primarily nocturnal, feeding on flower nectar, and have a life span of a few weeks.

Feature Male Female
Antennae Larger, broader Smaller, narrower
Pheromone Detection Yes No
Activity Period Nocturnal Nocturnal

Overall Features:

  • Sexual dimorphism present
  • Nocturnal
  • Short adult lifespan

Feeding and Host Plants

Caterpillar Food Sources

The Pandora Sphinx moth (Eumorpha pandorus) caterpillar primarily feeds on the foliage of certain host plants. Some examples of their preferred host plants include:

  • Vitis spp. (grape)
  • Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
  • Ampelopsis spp. (peppervine)

These vines are often found in vineyards, forests, and other natural habitats.

Adult Moth Food Sources

Adult Pandora Sphinx moths consume nectar from various flowering plants. Some nectar-rich flowers that attract these moths are:

  • Petunias
  • Evening primroses
  • Honeysuckles
Caterpillar Food Sources Adult Moth Food Sources
Vitis spp. (grape) Petunias
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper) Evening primroses
Ampelopsis spp. (peppervine) Honeysuckles

These moth species play a significant role in pollinating flowers, especially during the night.

Predators and Threats

The Pandora Sphinx Moth, like many other sphinx moths, faces a variety of predators. Some common predators include:

  • Birds
  • Bats
  • Other insects, such as larger butterflies and praying mantises

Conservation status for the Pandora Sphinx Moth is not of immediate concern. These moths are quite widespread and can adapt to various habitats. However, habitat loss and pesticide use can still pose threats to their population.

Feature Birds Bats
Hunting time Daytime Nighttime
Prey capture Use beaks and talons Use echolocation
Locating prey Visual cues Echolocation
  • Some bird species that prey on Pandora Sphinx Moths are flycatchers, swallows, and raptors
  • Bats use echolocation to find and capture moths during nighttime feeding

To help protect these moths, it is essential to maintain habitats like forests, meadows, and gardens where they can thrive. Reducing pesticide use, particularly on plants near their habitat, can benefit the moth population and their ecosystem.

Behavior and Interactions

Nocturnal Activities

Pandora Sphinx moths are mainly active during the night. They fly within their habitats such as woodlands and gardens, searching for food and mates. During the day, these moths can be found resting in sheltered areas or underground.

Pollination

These Sphinx moths play an essential role in pollination. They hover near flowers and feed on nectar using a long proboscis. This feeding behavior helps to pollinate flowers in various ecosystems.

Moth Communication

  • Sphinx moths communicate through pheromones.
  • These chemical signals attract mates.

Comparison Table: Nocturnal Activities vs Pollination

Activities Nocturnal Activities Pollination
Time of Day Night Night (sometimes day)
Types of Interactions Mating, Searching for food Feeding, Pollinating
Benefits to Ecosystem Ensures species continuity Supports plant life

In summary, Pandora Sphinx moths are fascinating nocturnal creatures that play a crucial role in their ecosystems. They interact in various ways, contributing to both pollination and the survival of their species through active mating and communication.

Physical Features and Identification

Body Structure

The Pandorus Sphinx Moth is a finger-sized insect, with a body length of around 3 to 4 inches. Its body is divided into three main sections: the head, thorax, and abdomen. The thorax holds the moth’s wings and legs, whereas the abdomen contains spiracles, which are essential for respiration. The moth has two pairs of wings: long, narrow-triangular forewings, and shorter hindwings1.

Coloration and Patterns

Pandorus Sphinx Moths exhibit various colors and patterns:

  • The body of the moth has a general dark brown to reddish color2.
  • Adult moths have yellowish eyespots on the abdomen3.
  • The forewings feature dark brown patterns with pale, wavy bands4.

As caterpillars, they’re green, with a curved caudal horn or tail (typical of hornworms) on their rear end5.

Key Features:

  • Finger-sized body (3-4 inches)
  • Dark brown to reddish body color
  • Yellowish eyespots on abdomen
  • Patterned forewings with pale, wavy bands
  • Green hornworm caterpillars

Additional Information and Resources

The Pandorus Sphinx Moth is a fascinating creature with unique characteristics. In its earlier stage, this moth starts as a green caterpillar, adorned with a long, curved “caudal horn/tail” on its back [^.uwm.edu^] (https://uwm.edu/field-station/pandorus-sphinx/). As it grows, it feeds on different plants like:

  • Petunia
  • Bouncing bet
  • Grapes

The moth goes through a pupation phase, during which its body undergoes a transformation. It attaches to a surface with its cremaster to form a chrysalis before emerging as an adult moth[^.fs.usda.gov^] (https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5347800.pdf).

Some interesting features of the Pandorus Sphinx Moth include:

  • Finger-sized body (3″ to 4″)
  • Conspicuous green caterpillar stage
  • Retains a curved “caudal horn/tail”
  • Eats various plant species
  • Distinctive pupation process

Although the information provided should offer a good understanding of the Pandorus Sphinx Moth, it is crucial to learn more from reliable sources. For additional resources on the moth, check out these links:

Footnotes

  1. https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/hawk_moths.shtml 2

  2. https://uwm.edu/field-station/pandorus-sphinx/ 2

  3. https://uwm.edu/field-station/pandorus-sphinx/ 2

  4. https://uwm.edu/field-station/pandorus-sphinx/ 2

  5. https://uwm.edu/field-station/pandorus-sphinx/ 2

  6. https://uwm.edu/field-station/pandorus-sphinx/

  7. https://uwm.edu/field-station/pandorus-sphinx/

  8. https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/hawk_moths.shtml

  9. https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/hawk_moths.shtml

  10. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/hornworm_caterpillars_the_big_cats_of_the_vineyard

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Caterpillar
Mr. Bugman:
My son caught this caterpillar in a shrub. What’s this bug?, and Is it poisonous?, Can he touch it?
Thank you
Jorge López Collado
College Station, Texas.

Hi Jorge,
What a beautiful photo of a Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar, Eumorpha pandorus. They are not poisonous, can be handeled, and metamorphose into beautiful moths. The pose in your photo is textbook, and the reason moths in this group are called Sphinx Moths. The caterpillar has a resemblance to the Egyptian figure.

Letter 2 – Pandorus Sphinx

 

Subject: found a large moth
Location: louisiana u.s.a. 70542
August 20, 2012 2:33 pm
today we happen upon a large moth that looks like an oleander hawk moth, but we live in louisiana, u.s.a. Could you please tell us what this moth could be?
Thank you for your time.
Signature: brittany

Pandorus Sphinx

Hi Brittany,
Though is somewhat resembles an Oleander Hawkmoth, they have not yet been reported in Louisiana.  Your moth is a Pandorus Sphinx.  You can read more about the Pandorus Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Letter 3 – Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar

 

weird looking bug in Texas… please help!Hi! Please help us! My husband found this weird looking bug on our pine tree in Houston, TX . Two pictures are attached. It is probably 4-5 inches. Thank you!
Jeanette

Hi Jeanette,
You have a Sphinx Moth caterpillar, probably from the genus Pholus, probably Pholus satellitia, the Satellite Sphinx, or according to this site, Eumorpha satellitia satellitia. A variety, Pholus satellitia pandorus, is called the Pandora Sphinx. Some taxonomists call this moth Eumorpha pandorus. The caterpillar comes in several color variations, including green and reddish-brown. The food plant is the leaves of the grapevine. It appears to be on a vine climbing on your pine tree. Could that vine be grape?

Letter 4 – Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar

 

caterpillar?
Hello! We live in Iowa and came across this bug yesterday along a bike trail. Could you tell me what it is? Thank you!!
Elizabeth

Hi Elizabeth,
This is a Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar. Judging by the number of adult moth photos we received this year, we expect your photo to the the first of numerous requests for the caterpillar identification this season. Grape is one of the food plants for the larva and your specimen appears to be be feeding on grape.

Letter 5 – Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Unknown caterpillar on grape leaf
Hi-
We found this on one of our grape leaves yesterday (9/29/07) (Rochester, NY). Do you know what it is? Thanks!
Jeff
Rochester, NY

Hi Jeff,
Adult Pandora Sphinx images were common this year, and this is the distinctive caterpillar of the equally distinctive moth.

Letter 6 – Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Greetings!,
My girlfriend and I were at Amicoloa State Park in North Georgia when we saw this beauty! Not quite sure what it is though. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Sincerely,
Jacob

Hi Jacob,
We haven’t gotten a photo of a Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar, Eumorpha pandorus, in some time.

Letter 7 – Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Catapillar or worm?
October 4, 2009
This was found in southern Wisconsin on a grape vine. It is soft to the touch, even though the spotted outside looks like a “shell” When it stretches, it extends out of the “shell” Very different from anything we have ever seen before
Cora Purdue
Southern Wisconsin

Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar
Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Cora,
Your caterpillar is a Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar, Eumorpha pandorus, and it is commonly found on grape vines.  There are also green and brown color variations of the caterpillar.

Letter 8 – Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar

 

luna moth and caterpillar question
Location:  West Columbia, Brazoria, Texas
August 8, 2010 11:45 pm
Hi,
I know you get a lot of luna moth pictures, but this is the first one I have ever seen. This is the second of 2 I saw that day, July 16, 2010. The first appeared to be injured and hung out on a banana plant all day. This one seemed healthy and stayed on the fence most of the day. After looking at all the beautiful pictures on your website, I was really happy to see one.
The caterpillar I saw the same day and I was hoping you could help me identify it. Thank you!
John in SE Texas

Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi John,
This is a late instar of the green morph of a Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar,
Eumorpha pandorus.  Caterpillars of Sphinx Moths in the family Sphingidae are commonly called Hornworms since most possess a caudal horn.  The Pandora Sphinx loses its horn in its final molts before becoming a pupa.  The caterpillar is commonly seen in orange and brown morphs as well as the green one you have found.  We recommend visiting Bill Oehlke’s page on the Pandora Sphinx.

Letter 9 – Pandorus Sphinx

 

Subject: Camo moth
Location: Virginia, US
September 21, 2015 6:11 pm
This moth was hanging out low on a brick wall on an Army post in Virginia on September 21, 2015. I’ve never seen a moth wearing a military uniform before.
Signature: PB

Pandorus Sphinx
Pandorus Sphinx

Dear PB,
You are not the first person who has likened the markings on a Pandorus Sphinx to camouflage print fabric.

Letter 10 – Pandorus Sphinx

 

Subject: Pandorus Sphinx Moth
Location: Forney, TX
May 10, 2016 8:58 am
Found this guy hanging outside my building in Forney, TX. S/he was so pretty that I had to go back out and take a pic.
Signature: Mel

Pandorus Sphinx
Pandorus Sphinx

Dear Mel,
We are very excited to post your image of a Pandorus Sphinx, one of our beautiful native Hawkmoths.

Letter 11 – Pandorus Sphinx

 

Subject: Green Moth
Location: Collierville, TN 38017
May 31, 2016 9:13 pm
Hello,
Found this beautiful fellow outside my house in Collierville, TN. Thought at first he was a Lime Hawk, but while the colors are similar, the patterns differ. Then, too, this is far from the Lime Hawk natural range. This photo was taken at night with artificial lighting. I’ll try to get a daylight shot tomorrow a.m., if he’s still there.
Thanks!
Signature: Nature’s Appreciative Spectator

Pandorus Sphinx
Pandorus Sphinx

Dear Nature’s Appreciative Spectator,
Your beauty is a Pandorus Sphinx, a North American species, unlike the Lime Hawkmoth, which is native to Europe, though we did report a North American sighting of a Lime Hawkmoth many years ago.

Letter 12 – Pandora Sphinx

 

Pandorus sphinx (Eumorpha pandorus)
I love you’re site! I have used it many times for identification. Thought you might like a picture of a Pandorus sphinx. It was found in Northern Lower Michigan, not sure it’s documented this far north, I’m checking into it.
Mary Moore

Hi Mary,
Thanks for sending in a lovely photograph of a Pandora Sphinx. We currently have a great photo of the caterpillar on our homepage as well.

Letter 13 – Another Pandora Sphinx

 

Green Moth Mystery
Hi,
Any clues on this thing? Kansas.
melissa

Hi Melissa,
About five minutes ago, we posted another photo of a Pandora Sphinx.

Letter 14 – Pandora Sphinx

 

What’s this bug??
Hi, my husband found this moth at work. He works on the ocean shore line in Long Branch NJ. He was 4 stories up when he saw this moth resting on a metal pipe. What is this bug?? It is absolutly beautiful. Very large looking eyes. Sorry the pictures do not do the bug justice. Thanks for you time. Very cool website! I will save this on my favs!
Jacqui & Matt
from Ocean County NJ

Hi Jacqui and Matt,
We have numerous photos of Pandora Sphinx Moths on our site, but the angle on this shot is a refreshing point of view.

Letter 15 – Pandora Sphinx

 

moth question – with location added
Hi Bugman –
This crazy looking moth came flying at me on a cold autumn morning (October ’07) and landed in my clematis vine — where I took it’s picture. After looking at photos on your site I think it’s a pandora sphinx moth but would appreciate your expert opinion. Thanks –
S. Z. Rein
Madison, Wisconsin
p.s. Also think your site is amazing — both for it’s photography and the bug facts.

Hi SZ,
You are absolutely correct. This is a Pandora Sphinx.

Letter 16 – Pandora Sphinx

 

Wild life outside our door
What is this?
Gary Greenwell

Hi Gary,
The minute we remove an image of a Pandora Sphinx from our homepage, we get a new request for identification.

Letter 17 – Pandora Sphinx

 

Cool moth
Hi
I found this moth sitting on a 2×4 on our deck just south of Pittsburgh, PA. According to the pics on your website I believe it to be a satellite sphinx moth. This thing is absolutely beautiful, I’ve never seen anything like it around here. Thanks
Barb

Hi Barb,
This is a closely related species, the Pandora Sphinx.

Letter 18 – Pandora Sphinx

 

What’s this?
Dear Bugman,
What is this pretty thing? He and his buddies spend every summer decimating my Virginia creeper vines, and I spend the summer relocating them to wild grapevines. I’d love to know what he is, and what he becomes. By the way, I LOVE your website – this is the first time I’ve ever spent more than a few minutes prowling around a website! It’s absolutely great.
Patricia

Hi Patricia,
Your Pandora Sphinx, Eumorpha pandorus, will do considerably more growing before pupating underground and emerging as a lovely olive and pale green moth with pink and lavendar markings. Use our search engine to locate pages with additional photos of caterpillars and adult moths.

Dear Daniel, Thanks for the quick answer! The Pandora Sphinx moth on your website is quite lovely, and I’m pleased to know that they’ve been happy with the wild grapevines. Also, my husband and I were thrilled to read that you and your group live peacefully with the black widow spiders; we’ve always tried to do that, too, although everyone else seems to think we’re nuts. Three cheers for you and your fantastic web site! Patricia

Letter 19 – Pandora Sphinx

 

Lime Hawk Moth in TN
Tue, Jul 7, 2009 at 4:59 PM
We saw this strange moth land on our window screen. I hurried outside to take pictures and to show my husband. After snapping a few photos, we went back inside. About 2 minutes later, a Cardinal flew up and snatched the moth up. We went on your website to see what sort of moth this was, and we came across your PA Lime Hawk Moth post, and how we should contact you immediately. So, here goes!
Sarah and Keith Allen
Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Pandora Sphinx
Pandora Sphinx

Hi Sarah and Keith,
Your moth and another submission we received earlier today are both indigenous relatives of the Lime Hawk Moth.  They are Eumorpha pandorus, the Pandora Sphinx, which according to BugGuide, is found  in the “Eastern United States (Maine to Florida, west to Texas, north to Nebraska and Wisconsin) plus Ontario and Nova Scotia “

Letter 20 – Pandora Sphinx

 

beautiful green patterned moth
Mon, Jul 6, 2009 at 9:36 AM
Can you please tell me the name of this very large, very beautiful moth? I found it hanging on my house this morning. Its body is about 3 inches long.
Eleanor Coyne
North Attleboro, MA. 02760 USA

Pandora Sphinx
Pandora Sphinx

Hi Eleanor,
Your moth is a Pandora Sphinx, and it is the second example we are posting to our site today.

Letter 21 – Pandora Sphinx

 

can you help me identiffy this insect?
September 3, 2009
I found tis insect in front of my door and at first I thought that was a plastic toy but when I touched it it moved. It looks like butterfly but I’m not sure if it is one.
karolina85
new jersey, united states

Pandora Sphinx
Pandora Sphinx

Hi karolina85,
Your moth is a Pandora Sphinx, Eumorpha pandorus.  It ranges through much of North America from Texas to the east.

Letter 22 – Pandora Sphinx

 

Moth?
September 24, 2009
This”moth” was labeled a stowaway. I’m uncertain if it came from the Denver Airport/airplane and stayed on my luggage till we got to Tulsa, Oklahoma or if it just greeted us in Tulsa when we were waiting for our ride. I was standing outside the Tulsa airport on August 2nd about midnight and looked down to see this LARGE moth looking thing (It was about the size of my iphone). He really liked my bag – Not wanting to touch its wings, I had a little trouble getting it off! I found a stick and kind of forced it to walk aboard and then I put him in a safe place. Can you tell me what kind it is?
Katie ~ Photographer
Probably Tulsa, Oklahoma

Pandora Sphinx
Pandora Sphinx

Hi Katie,
Bill Oehlke’s awesome website does not report the Pandora Sphinx, Eumorpha pandorus, from Colorado, but the species is found in Oklahoma, which is indicated as the western limit of the range.

Letter 23 – Pandora Sphinx

 

Oleander Hawk Moth in VA?
April 15, 2010
Here’s a photo of a little guy that spent the whole day hanging out on a brick wall at a job site in Lorton, VA with me. He certainly looks like a Oleander Hawk Moth, but seems to be way out of his range.
Curious in Baltimore
Lorton, VA

Pandora Sphinx

Dear Curious,
While the coloration of your moth is similar to that of the Oleander Hawkmoth, your specimen is a different species in the same family.  Your Pandora Sphinx is a local species.

Letter 24 – Pandora Sphinx

 

Lime Hawk Moth?
July 6, 2010
I encountered this moth while fueling my vehicle at Martins general store in Alexandria, PA (Huntingdon County)this morning; 7/6/2010.
Is it a Lime Hawk moth?
GARY AXE
Alexandria PA

Pandora Sphinx

Hi Gary,
Though the coloration of the Lime Hawkmoth is similar to this native Pandora Sphinx, the markings are quite different.  The Pandora Sphinx,
Eumorpha pandorus, is a common North American species.

Letter 25 – Pandora Sphinx

 

hawk moth?
July 17, 2010
Location:  Fleetwood, PA (Berks County)
this moth was hanging on my barn door most of the day yesterday. it looks a bit like a hawk moth, but they do not appear to be native to southeastern PA (Berks County). is it a hawk moth?
Dan

Pandora Sphinx

Hi Dan,
Sightings of Pandora Sphinx Moths,
Eumorpha pandorus, like the one in your photo have been reported to us numerous times this year.  Hawkmoth tends to be a term used more for European species, though Sphinx Moths and Hawkmoths are both common synonyms for moths in the family Sphingidae.

Letter 26 – Pandora Sphinx

 

Sphinx Moth
Location:  Round lake IL (north of Chicago)
July 21, 2010 7:20 pm
The other night I stepped out onto my deck to see this beauty sipping nectar. The red flowers are Nicotiana and are 2 inches across. Definately larger then the Ruby throated Hummingbirds that also visit my yard. Later I saw it feed at my petunias. Is this a Carolina Sphinx? the patterns look wrong to my eyes, it can’t be a satellite sphinx, we are way to North.
Tom Helmka

Pandora Sphinx

Hi Tom,
Your photos are great at capturing the amazing mobility of the aerodynamic flight of a Sphinx Moth, but they are not ideal for identification purposes.  Nonetheless, we are relatively confident that you observed a Pandora Sphinx,
Eumorpha pandorus, and you can read more about this lovely moth on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website which thankfully has a view of the undersides of the wings for comparison with your only image that has the features of the wings visible.

Pandora Sphinx

Thank you so much for your time! I really appreciate the effort you put into this. Your ID looks spot on.
Thanks again
Tom Helmka

Letter 27 – Pandora Sphinx

 

Coolest looking green moth looking thing I have ever seen!
Location:  Raleigh, NC
August 30, 2010 4:39 pm
Ok so bugs normally creep me out and I run as quickly in the opposite direction as I can…but this is the prettiest bug I have ever seen! I have actually been back outside of my apartment several times in the last hour just to look at it. This moth looking bug has been outside of my apartment on the wall out of the sun for the last 4 hours. Hasn’t moved an inch! I have never seen another bug like this in my whole life, its wings look like a piece of art. Please help me identify this bug that I’ve been staring at for the few hours. I’d love to know anything else about this bug like if it is common to this area because I haven’t ever seen another one.
Curious bug gazer

Pandora Sphinx

Dear Curious bug gazer,
Your lovely moth is a Pandora Sphinx,
Eumorpha pandorus, a species that ranges from Florida to southern Canada and west to Oklahoma according to Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Letter 28 – Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Caterpillar
Hi!
This caterpillar was found in Port Severn Ontario, we found it near some sumac trees we were clearing. We had never seen anything like him and thought he was photo worthy.
It’s about 1/2″ diameter and 4″ long when he was fully extended. Can you tell us what it was? The only similar image of a caterpillar I found was from Mexico and there was no name listed for it. Thanks so much
Courtney

Hi Courtney,
This is a Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar, Eumorpha pandorus. It will become a lovely green moth that is of described by our readership as the camouflage moth.

Letter 29 – Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: What kind of caterpillar?
Location: Pennsylvania butler area
September 9, 2014 4:09 pm
I found this caterpillar while cleaning out my woods
Signature: Jessica

Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar
Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Jessica,
This is the caterpillar of a Pandorus Sphinx, and the adult is a gorgeous green moth.  The caterpillars can be green, orange or brown.  You can compare your individual to this image on BugGuide.  We have been doing some site maintenance and we were unable to respond earlier.

Letter 30 – Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: PA
October 1, 2014 2:52 pm
What kind of caterpillar is this? Will it turn into a butterfly or moth?
Signature: Yuck!

Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar
Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Yuck!,
This is the caterpillar of a Pandorus Sphinx and it will soon dig earth to pupate.  It will emerge as a beautiful green Pandorus Sphinx.

Letter 31 – Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: caterpilar
Location: jay oklahoma
November 9, 2015 5:09 am
Found in the woods where I live around jay oklahoma. It was about 5 inches long with a leather type skin. Iv never seen anything like it and wish I would have kept it to see what it turned into but I let it go.
Signature: shelly

Pandorus  Sphinx Caterpillar
Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Shelly,
This is the caterpillar of a Pandorus Sphinx, and it is in a typical posture of retracting its head.  Leaves of grape and Virginia creeper are a preferred food for the caterpillars.

Letter 32 – Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Pandora Sphinx?
Geographic location of the bug:  NW Ohio
Date: 09/02/2017
Time: 10:48 AM EDT
We found this guy in NW Ohio and it was pretty big! Cruising by some grapevines, look forward to knowing what it is?!
How you want your letter signed:  The Kings

Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Kings,
The backlighting on your image of this Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar is quite beautiful.  Leaves from grapes are an identified food plant on BugGuide where it states:  “Larva: body bright green or reddish-brown with swollen third thoracic segment into which head and first 2 thoracic segments can be drawn; abdomen with small white to yellow spot on segment 2 and large oval spots around spiracle on third to seventh segments; whiplike horn of early instars replaced with button in last stage; thorax and anterior abdominal segments with dorsal black spotting.”  Thank you for including a detail image of the “button” or caudal bump.

Caudal Bump of Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar

Letter 33 – Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Red Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Denver Colorado
Date: 09/17/2018
Time: 05:30 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Any idea what kind of bug this is? I’m 99% sure it is a caterpillar, but can’t find a similar one online. It is definitely a creature of some sort, it moved when I tried to pick it up.
How you want your letter signed:  Robin

Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Robin,
This is a third instar Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar, and here is a matching image from BugGuide.  According to Sphingidae of the Americas:  “L3: At this stage, the larvae look quite different. The long straight horn now curves and looks strikingly similar to a
Parthenocissus quinquefolia tendril. The larvae can be yellowish, green, brownish or reddish with 5 white eyespots around the spiracles on the sides of the larvae.”  Your individual has not yet shed its caudal horn.

Correction:  Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar
Thanks to a correction from frequent WTB? contributor Bostjan Dvorak, we acknowledge our initial mistake.

 

Letter 34 – Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar from Canada

 

Subject:  A Big fat catapillar of some description
Geographic location of the bug:  Cobourg
Date: 10/14/2017
Time: 03:37 PM EDT
Can u please tell me what this big is.
How you want your letter signed:  M Stanford

Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear M Stanford,
You can verify the identity of this Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar on Sphingidae of the Americas.

Letter 35 – Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar parasitized by Braconid Wasp

 

Large Fuzzy Fat Catapillar with dangles
Mon, Nov 3, 2008 at 4:00 PM
Found this critter right outside my kitchen window, seemed to move very slowly over the week. Then started growing the dangling things off of his/her body.
M.Sims – Garland TX
N. Texas (Dallas/Ft Worth-area)

Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar parasitised by Brachonid Wasp
Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar parasitised by Braconid Wasp

Hi M.,
This is a Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar, Eumorpha pandorus, and it has been parasitized by a Braconid Wasp. The Brachonid Wasp lays its eggs inside the caterpillar and the larvae feed on the internal organs, eventually emerging and pupating on the outside of the caterpillar. You can see some of the pupae have “hatched” and the adult Braconid Wasps have emerged. Sadly, the Pandorus Sphinx Caterpillar will die.

Letter 36 – Pandorus Sphinx: Perfectly Composed Image

 

Subject: what is this caterpillar
Location: southern Ohio, in my backyard on a vine
September 11, 2016 2:22 pm
I’m from southern Ohio and there’s a caterpillar in my backyard and I’m curious as to what it is. It’s about as long as my hand and was eating leaves off of a Virginia creeper, a vining plant. I’ve tried looking for it on google and the closest I could find was tersa sphinx but I’m not sure that’s it.
Signature: Lizzie

Pandorus Sphinx
Pandorus Sphinx

Dear Lizzie,
The lateral composition of your image of a Pandorus Sphinx on its food plant, Virginia Creeper, would make a perfect study for an entomological illustration.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

12 thoughts on “Pandora Sphinx Moth: Essential Facts and Insights”

  1. I live in Ohio and I’ve seen a few Pandora sphinx over the years. The first of which went into my first “Bug Collection” as a kid. I’ve always admired the beauty of this particular moth not to mention its amazing camouflage. Its always a nice surprise to see one as they seem to be increasingly rare in our area.
    Dan

    Reply
  2. Spider beetles from the subfamily Ptininae of family Anobiidae (in some classifications it is called Ptinidae).

    Reply
  3. I found 4 of these in St.Charles Missouri tonight. 2 dead 2 alive. I am keeping the dead guys for my oddities collection. I want to be clear, they died of natural causes, I don’t hurt critters!

    Reply
  4. This pretty caterpillar is one of Eumorpha achemon I suppose; the white lateral ornaments are multilayered, more complex than in E. pandorus, and it is completely covered by little spots.

    Best wishes
    Bostjan

    Reply
  5. One more distinctive characteristic I forgot to mention yesterday: there are six pairs of lateral ornaments in this species’ caterpillar (Eumorpha achemon, as pictured on the photo) instead of five (E. pandorus); and the latter one might rather be restricted to the eastern parts of the continent, but I am not sure whether it could be spread to the western areas as synanthropic species in the meantime… They cooccur in the eastern half of the territory. – A fascinating genus of hawkmoths with the larvae pupating in underground chambers, which is typical for many Sphinginae, but quite unusual for the Macroglossinae…

    Nice wishes from Berlin
    Bostjan

    Reply
  6. We just found a beautiful Pandora moth on a Gryphon Begonia on our porch. Most likely a male when considering the size, unless this is still considered to be early in the year. (July 20, 2019) We are in Lincoln, NE.

    Reply

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