Poecila Sphinx Caterpillar

caterpillat ID help!
Ask that Bug!
I think I have incorrectly identified the attached photo as a Tobacco hornworm. None of my books are much help. It is the color that has me puzzled. The Sphinx Moth caterpillar is a reddish brown, but I do not see the “horn” on it, so if you can help, please do. Thanks a lot!
Ruth Smith

Caterpilar ID help #2
Dear Bug people!
I forgot to mention the locale of the previous photo….the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in August. Also since the 1st e-mail, I have concluded that this may be in the family of Sphinx Moth Caterpillars, but not sure which one. They seem to prefer grape vines. Thisi s a willow branch, but it was eating and wiggling a lot! Thanks again for your help.
Ruth Smith

Hi Ruth,
We wrote back to you after getting your first letter with a request for additional information including location and food plant, without realizing that you had sent a second email. The location in Michigan was a tremendous help. We are relatively certain this is a color sport of the Peocila Sphinx, Sphinx poecila. Wow, a palandrome!!!!! We located an image on Bill Oehlke’s wonderful website that indicates he raised a group of caterpillars of the Poecila Sphinx and he noticed that: “One of the larvae was considerably darker than the others and upon moving into the fifth instar took on a dramatic, deep purple colouration. ” We will try to contact Bill Oehlke to see if he agrees that this is a dark Sphinx poecila. Bill Oehlke quickly wrote back: “Yes, it is poecila” in confirmation of our identification.

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