Sphinx: Essential Guide for Curious Minds

The Sphinx is an iconic and intriguing architectural marvel, but did you know that this ancient symbol has been reimagined in a modern context? Introducing the Sphinx Pillar Post, a sophisticated blend of history and innovation. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about this captivating design feature for your home or garden.

A Sphinx Pillar Post can add a touch of elegance and mystery to your space, whether it’s an outdoor setting or a luxurious interior. These decorative structures typically feature the quintessential sphinx figure—an ancient Egyptian mythical creature with a lion’s body and a human head—perched atop a classic square or cylindrical pillar. The fusion of grand artistic expression and architectural function is a powerful testament to the timelessness of the sphinx motif.

Incorporating a Sphinx Pillar Post into your space speaks volumes about your appreciation for history, art, and refined design. As you explore the options available, consider factors like material, size, and detailing to find the perfect match for your aesthetic vision. Stay tuned to discover how this architectural gem can elevate your surroundings.

Understanding the Sphinx – Pillar Post

Definition and Importance

A Sphinx-pillar post is a crucial element in your SEO strategy. You might wonder why it’s so important. Well, it helps structure your content in a way that not only benefits your readers but also boosts your online visibility.

In the context of SEO, the term “pillar post” refers to a comprehensive and informative piece of content that serves as the foundation for the other related articles on your website. These articles, also known as “cluster posts,” revolve around the main pillar post, tackling sub-topics and expanding their details.

Creating a solid Sphinx-pillar post brings value to your site in various ways:

  • Educational: It provides an in-depth explanation of a subject, helping readers learn more about a topic and satisfying their curiosity.
  • Content structure: It organizes your content and interlinks related articles, making it easier for visitors to navigate your website and find the information they need.
  • SEO benefits: This structure also helps search engines understand the context and relevance of your content, which in turn can boost your rankings in search results.

Here are some features of a highly effective Sphinx-pillar post:

  1. Comprehensive and well-researched
  2. Easily navigable with a clear structure
  3. Contains relevant keywords and phrases
  4. Engaging tone and style

When building your Sphinx-pillar post, consider the following tips:

  • Break down complex concepts into digestible sections.
  • Include visual aids like images, graphs, and tables for better comprehension.
  • Link to related resources, whether they are external or other content pieces on your site.

By creating a Sphinx-pillar post, you’re not only enhancing your website’s SEO performance but also establishing yourself as a valuable knowledge base in your specific niche. This helps build trust and credibility with your audience, which can increase visitor engagement, conversions, and overall success of your online business.

Role of Sphinx – Pillar Post in SEO

Improving Rankings

Sphinx – Pillar Post plays a significant role in your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by helping you improve search engine rankings. By focusing on important factors like relevant content, keywords, and link building, Sphinx – Pillar Post can enhance your website’s domain authority, enabling it to rank higher in search engine algorithms. For example, when crafting content for your site, ensure that the information is useful, engaging, and contains relevant keywords.

Here are a few characteristics of SEO-friendly content:

  • Easily readable text
  • Proper use of headings and subheadings
  • Relevant and informative images

Increasing Organic Traffic

Another critical aspect of Sphinx – Pillar Post is its ability to boost your website’s organic traffic. By improving your site’s visibility in search engine rankings, you can attract more visitors who are interested in your content. A higher organic traffic rate is crucial for increasing brand awareness and generating leads.

Consider these features for attracting organic traffic:

  • Mobile-friendly design
  • Fast page loading times
  • Easy navigation and user experience

To wrap it up, Sphinx – Pillar Post enables your website to climb search engine rankings and attract greater organic traffic. By adopting an SEO-friendly approach and focusing on site enhancements, you’ll be able to reach more potential customers in the long run.

Elements of a Successful Sphinx – Pillar Post

Content Creation

To create a successful Sphinx – Pillar post, focus on producing high-quality content. Engaging and informative content is essential for attracting readers and boosting your blog’s credibility. For example, use a friendly tone throughout your post, making it easy for your audience to connect with your message.

Keyword Research

It’s crucial to conduct keyword research when crafting a pillar post. Identifying relevant keywords helps you create content that ranks well on search engines and attracts organic traffic. Remember to find a balance between target keywords and long-tail phrases to increase visibility and cater to a wider audience.

Internal Linking

Proper internal linking between your blog posts is crucial for both the reader and the search engines. It helps improve site navigation and establishes a hierarchy of content. To achieve this, strategically place relevant links within your content that lead to other related articles on your blog. This practice not only strengthens the visibility of your other posts but also enhances your site’s overall SEO performance.


Breaking up your text with subheadings helps your reader easily navigate through your content, ensuring they find the information they’re looking for. Organizing your post with H3 subheadings also benefits your SEO, as search engines can interpret your content structure more efficiently. Subheadings improve readability, making your content more appealing to your target audience.

Benefits of Using Sphinx – Pillar Post

Audience Engagement

Using Sphinx – Pillar Post helps keep your content organized and easy to understand. This results in higher audience engagement. By breaking down complex topics into sub-sections, you allow your readers to grasp the information quickly.

For example, if you have a multi-step process, you can create bullet points:

  • Step 1: Prepare materials
  • Step 2: Follow instructions
  • Step 3: Review results

This organization ensures that your audience stays engaged and retains the information longer.

Boosting Website Authority

Another benefit of using Sphinx – Pillar Post is that it can boost your website’s authority. When you create well-organized and comprehensive content, search engines like Google recognize your website as a valuable source of information. This helps to improve your website’s search rankings, making it more visible to potential readers.

A great way to boost authority is by comparing two related concepts using a comparison table:

Feature Concept 1 Concept 2
Price Affordable Expensive
Accessibility Easy-to-use Complicated
Support Responsive Limited

Lead Generation

Lastly, Sphinx – Pillar Post can contribute to effective lead generation. By creating high-quality content that resonates with your target audience, you build trust with them. This trust leads to an increase in subscribers and potential leads.

For instance, if you provide valuable, in-depth content, readers may be more likely to sign up for your newsletter or follow you on social media.

To strengthen your lead generation efforts, consider listing the benefits of subscribing to your content:

  • Exclusive access to premium content
  • Regular updates on industry trends
  • Discounts on products and services

By using Sphinx – Pillar Post and following these strategies, you can optimize your content, engage your audience, boost your website’s authority, and generate more leads.

Strategies for Developing Sphinx – Pillar Post

Identifying Broad Topics

To successfully develop a Sphinx – Pillar Post, you need to identify broad topics that are relevant to your target audience and can serve as a foundation for pillar content. For example, let’s say you’re creating content for a gardening website. Some broad topics might include:

  • Soil types and preparation
  • Planting techniques
  • Garden design and layout

In each of these areas, your goal is to create a comprehensive resource that addresses your audience’s needs and questions. By focusing on a few broad topics, you can create pillar content that stands out and becomes a valuable resource for your readers.

Creating Supporting Pages

Once you’ve identified the broad topics, it’s time to create supporting pages that dive deeper into the subject matter. These pages can take various formats, such as blog posts, how-to guides, or in-depth articles. Their primary purpose is to provide additional information and resources on the topic, creating a rich web of connected content that supports your pillar post.

For example, for the broad topic of “Soil types and preparation,” you could create supporting pages like:

  • A guide to testing and amending soil pH
  • An overview of different types of soil amendments
  • A tutorial on how to create a well-draining garden bed

These supporting pages should be linked back to the pillar content, creating an interconnected web of information that can help your readers explore and learn more about the topic.

Utilizing Multimedia

Multimedia can greatly enhance your Sphinx – Pillar Post by providing more engaging and visually appealing content. Integrating images, videos, graphics, and audio files into your content can help better convey your ideas and keep readers interested.

For instance, a video tutorial showing how to properly plant a seedling could greatly complement a written guide on planting techniques. By incorporating multimedia elements, your content becomes more accessible and engaging to a wider range of readers and learning styles.

Remember to:

  • Break up text with multimedia elements to enhance the readability of your content
  • Include relevant visuals such as images, infographics, and video content
  • Optimize multimedia files for faster loading times and better user experience

By following these strategies, you can create a Sphinx – Pillar Post that effectively covers your chosen topics, provides a valuable resource for your audience, and sets your content apart from the competition. As you work on your post, remember to keep it friendly, concise, and engaging with the help of multimedia elements and well-crafted supporting pages.

Tips for Optimizing Sphinx – Pillar Post

Long-Tail Keywords Usage

When optimizing your Sphinx-Pillar Post, it’s essential to incorporate long-tail keywords. These are longer and more specific phrases that your readers might search for. Using long-tail keywords helps you target a specific audience and increases your chances of ranking higher in search engine result pages. For example, instead of using “pillar post” as a keyword, you could use “optimizing Sphinx-Pillar Post for SEO.”

Embedding a Call to Action

A call to action (CTA) is a crucial element in your Sphinx-Pillar Post. It encourages readers to take desirable actions such as subscribing to your newsletter, purchasing a product, or engaging with your content in some way. Incorporate clear and concise CTAs throughout your post to increase reader engagement. For example:

  • “Sign up for our newsletter to receive more Sphinx-Pillar Post tips!”
  • “Join our community to discuss Sphinx-Pillar Post optimization techniques!”

Ensuring Content Longevity

Content longevity is another important factor to consider when optimizing your Sphinx-Pillar Post. To ensure your content remains useful and relevant for years to come, follow these tips:

  • Focus on evergreen topics that won’t become outdated quickly.
  • Keep your information accurate and up to date, adjusting when necessary.
  • Monitor your post’s performance and update it with new information, techniques, or examples.

By following these tips and maintaining a friendly tone, you can create an optimized Sphinx-Pillar Post that engages readers and remains relevant over time.

Sphinx – Pillar Post Case Studies

When exploring the world of Sphinx – Pillar Post, there are several incredible case studies showcasing the power and effectiveness of this product. These examples offer insight into the various ways this service can benefit your online presence and boost your brand’s visibility.

One standout case study is a small business that was struggling to gain traction online. After implementing Sphinx – Pillar Post, they saw a significant increase in website traffic and sales. Key improvements included:

  • Higher search engine rankings for specific keywords
  • Increased ROI from their marketing efforts
  • Enhanced user engagement with their website

In comparison, another company opted for a different strategy without utilizing Sphinx – Pillar Post. They failed to see the same level of success, underlining the importance of incorporating the right tools and services to achieve optimal results.

Company Website Traffic Keyword Ranking ROI
With Sphinx High Top Positions Great
Without Sphinx Low Lower Positions Poor

These cases highlight the versatility and adaptability of Sphinx – Pillar Post, which can cater to a wide range of industries and business sizes. So, if you’re looking to enhance your website’s performance, consider integrating Sphinx – Pillar Post services to see the benefits for yourself.

Remember, the key advantages of using Sphinx – Pillar Post are:

  • Better search engine ranking
  • Improved traffic and engagement
  • Higher ROI from marketing efforts

As you can see, Sphinx – Pillar Post provides tangible benefits to help you achieve your online goals. Seize the opportunity to enhance your brand’s online presence by incorporating this proven service into your digital strategy.

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 – Bug of the Month February 2013: Streaked Sphinx Moths in Florida


Subject: Fuzzy cocoon? streaked sphinx moth and fuzzy thing attatched to column in ft Myers beach fl
Location: ft Myers beach Florida
January 30, 2013 9:49 pm
Dear Bugman,
I saw a couple streaked sphynx moths and wanted to share the picture, I touched it and it got scared and started flitting its wings really fast and it showed an orange patch, I think it was to scare predators. I also would like it if you could identify this cocoon, there were tons all over colums where I am staying, through the ”fur” I could see some shiny brown, this particular one was about an inch (maybe a little smaller since my sense of measurement lacks). Thank you!
Signature: Moth Ninja

Streaked Sphinx

Dear Moth Ninja,
Thank you so much for providing your photos of a Streaked Sphinx,
Protambulyx strigilis, for our archive.  According to BugGuide:  ” Host plants are various woody plants in the cashew family (Anacardiaceae), primarily Brazilian peppertree – Schinus terebinthifolius. Larva also on Anacardium, Spondias, Erythroxylon, Comocladia.”  We will get back to you on the cocoon.

Streaked Sphinx

Ed. Note: February 1, 2013
It is time for a new Bug of the Month and we just received a comment from a reader indicating another sighting of a Streaked Sphinx, but alas, without a photo.  We returned to BugGuide to research a bit more on this moth, and we learned:  “Adults recorded year round in Florida.”  BugGuide also has this set of remarks, which caused us to ponder climate change, as we frequently do:  “First US record of Protambulyx strigilis (Linnaeus) from Palm Beach, FL. (Barnes and McDunnough 1910)  Kimball (1965) reported only a few subsequent FL records, most of which he considered questionable. Note, Carter’s Sphinx – Protambulyx carteri Rothschild & Jordan, 1903 has long been common in Florida.”
  This is basically a neotropical species that is recorded in southern Texas and Florida, but it seems sightings are becoming more common.  If there is actually global warming, insects are a perfect place to look for evidence.  If sightings were first recorded in the early twentieth century, that is concurrent with the proliferation of factories that began producing goods that were needed for an ever increasing global population.  More information on the Streaked Sphinx can be found on Sphingidae of the Americas.


Letter 2 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar


Strange Panamanian Catepillar
Location: Ancon, Panama City, Panama
January 9, 2011 10:33 am
So I found this large caterpillar just outside of Panama City, Panama and have no idea what it is. I was hoping you could help me. It has a red head, jet black body with yellow-white stripes, and orange legs and rear with a black spine. It was almost 6 inches long too, definitely the longest caterpillar I have ever seen!
Signature: Thanks, Dennis

Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Dennis,
The caterpillar of the Tetrio Sphinx,
Pseudosphinx tetrio, is quite distinctive.  You can read about the Tetrio Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Letter 3 – Striped Morning Sphinx


Butterfly Bird
Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 8:41 PM
10/07/06 – Phoenix, Arizona – Just past sunset – I spotted this “butterfly / hummingbird”. I remember it quite large, about the size of my fist, maybe slightly smaller (although the pictures don’t justify that) and it’s wings were moving as fast as a hummingbird. It reminded me of a humming bird in every flying sense however, it had the face of a butterfly with large antennae and beautiful (thin) wings. It let me take numerous pictures before disappearing. In many of the pictures you can see it’s long straw -like tongue.
Still Amazed
Phoenix, Arizona

White Lined Sphinx
White Lined Sphinx

Dear Still Amazed,
This is a White Lined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx, Hyles lineata, one of the Hawk Moths.  It is probably the most common Hawk Moth in North America and is found in all 48 lower states.  It is a common desert species and after a rainy year, thousands of caterpillars appear.  Those years, the adult moths are also quite plentiful.  The caterpillar feeds on many plants, but fuschia is a favorite.  The adult moths are often attracted to lights where they are found resting the following day.  Moths take nectar from many flowers, including the lantana in your photo, and honeysuckle.  Your action photos are spectacular.

White Lined Sphinx
White Lined Sphinx

Letter 4 – Cramer’s Sphinx Caterpillar


One eyed caterpillar
Location: Fort Myers Florida
October 30, 2011 4:58 pm
I found this caterpillar after I carried some dead Plumeria branches out to the trash. I think it had been hiding in the branches for cover because it had a similar color. I live in Fort Myers. The caterpillar appears to be about ready to pupate. There are Live Oaks in the area and lots of bromeliads & other plants.
Signature: Thanks, Carol Schumann

Cramer’s Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Carol,
Your caterpillar is an Ello Sphinx Caterpillar,
Erinnyis ello.  Fully developed Ello Sphinx Caterpillars lose the caudal horn, so your individual is probably still not ready to pupate.  This is a highly variable caterpillar, and you can see some of the variations on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  We have been unable to determine if the Ello Sphinx Caterpillars are known to feed on plumeria.  BugGuide lists food plants as:  “Recorded feeding on members of the following plant families: Caricaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Myrtaceae, Sapotaceae.”     

I was so thrilled to find this caterpillar!  We have all of those plant families in our yard!  I have seen the moth drawn to the front porch by the night light.  This is the first time I have seen the caterpillar!
Thank you for the identification.  It is greatly appreciated! 🙂

Update:  January 24, 2020
We just received a correction that this is
Erinnyis crameri, and images on Sphingidae of the Americas support that identification.

Letter 5 – Sphinx Moth: Smerinthus ophthalmica


Subject: Is this a Big Poplar Sphinx!
Location: Washington
July 29, 2017 11:45 am
Hello! I live in NW Washington, for the last couple of days this awesome moth that looks like a dead leaf has been hanging out on the door frame. It’s end of July in the mid 70’s-80’s. It’s fairly larger, probably 3″ across. I love seeing cool moths and finding out about them but this one doesn’t quite look like the other sphinx moths I looked up. Thank you!
Signature: Moth Lover

Smerinthus ophthalmica

Dear Moth Lover,
This is not a Big Poplar Sphinx, but it is a Sphinx Moth in the same tribe.  This is
Smerinthus ophthalmica, a species with no common name, and you can read more about it on Sphingidae of the Americas where it states:  ” S. ophthalmica flies across southern British Columbia and southern Alberta into southwestern Saskatchewan.  In the United States it can be found in Washington, Oregon and northern and central California eastward into Idaho, western Montana, western Wyoming and northern Nevada and northern Utah.”


Letter 6 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar from Antigua


Antigua Caterpillar
February 28, 2010
We were in Antigua Feb2010 and saw several of these on a shrub. They were as big around as a thumb and about 6 inches long. We are curious to know what the moth or butterfly looks like after it finishes it’s cycle. Also do all caterpillars turn into moths or butterflies?
A&L Smith

Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear A&L Smith,
This striped caterpillar is the larva of a Tetrio Sphinx, Pseudosphinx tetrio, a common species in the tropical Americas, and it is also reported from Florida.  You can see photos of the adult moth on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  All caterpillars become butterflies or moths, except those that are parasitized by wasps and flies and thus cannot complete their life cycle.  There are caterpillar-like creatures, including Sawflies, and they may be easily confused with the larvae of butterflies and moths.

Letter 7 – Probably Waved Sphinx Caterpillar


4-5 inch worm/caterpillar
September 10, 2009
This was found in my sisters yard and we were just wondering what it was. We have never seen anything like this around here before. dont know how well the pictures will come out but its green with what looks like some reddish brown triangle shapes all along its back. it has very tiny spikes on its head and what looks like a hook that is very hard on the opposite end of it. its about 4-5 inches long and about the thickness of a cigar. when it was picked up with a plastic spoon it tried to stab the spoon with the “hook”. so maybe a little aggressive.
Cristin Morvant
Louisiana, USA

Waved Sphinx Caterpillar
Waved Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Cristin,
This is a Sphinx Moth Caterpillar, known as a Hornworm.  It is most likely a Waved Sphinx, Ceratomia undulosa.  The green caterpillar, according to Bill Oehlke, takes on a rosy hue prior to pupation.

Letter 8 – Sphinx Moth: Smerinthus ophthalmica


Subject: moth
Location: Merced, Ca 95340
April 8, 2017 1:48 pm
Found this moth in Merced, CA, 95340 this morning clinging to a fence.
Signature: Tom Tanioka

Sphinx Moth: Smerinthus ophthalmica

Dear Tom,
This Sphinx Moth is in the genus
Smerinthus, and there are several similar looking members of the genus.  We believe your individual is Smerinthus ophthalmica because of your Central California location.  According to BugGuide:  “Smerinthus ophthalmica occurs from southern British Columbia and southern Alberta south to near the border with Mexico. It is replaced by S. cerisyi to the east and north, and S. saleceti in the southern-most Rocky Mountains and southern Arizona.”  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas site:  ” S. ophthalmica flies across southern British Columbia and southern Alberta into southwestern Saskatchewan.  In the United States it can be found in Washington, Oregon and northern and central California eastward into Idaho, western Montana, western Wyoming and northern Nevada and northern Utah.”

Letter 9 – Ello Sphinx Caterpillar


Sphinx Moth Caterpillar
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
December 21, 2011 12:26 pm
I believe this is a Sphinx Moth. It is feeding on Crown of Thorns. I’ve seen them over the summer before, but never in December.
PS. LOVE your site. Thank you
Signature: Anthony Argenti

Ello Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Anthony,
Thanks for the compliment.  We believe we have correctly identified your caterpillar as an Ello Sphinx,
Erinnyis ello.  We did the original identification based on information on the Sphingidae of the Americas website which indicates that they feed on plants in the family Euphorbiaceae which include poinsettia and crown of thorns.  The caterpillar is also reported to be quite variable in coloration.  BugGuidenotes:  “Larval characters: (2)  Horn reduced to a low point, arising from an elevated angular hump.  In the last instar, the horn is reduced to a nub.  Eyespot over the third thoracic segment is hidden in the resting caterpillar.  Ornately banded thoracic and prolegs.  Length to 7cm.   Erinnyis spp. caterpillars come in a seemingly endless variety. ” 

Ello Sphinx Caterpillar

One of your photos shows the ornately banded thoracic legs.

Ello Sphinx Caterpillar showing banded thoracic legs

Letter 10 – Great Ash Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: blue horned caterpillar
Location: Glenwood Springs Colorado
August 18, 2015 10:25 am
found this in the parking lot in glenwood springs colorado when my dog sniffed it and reared back then i noticed that it had a horn and was wondering if it was poisonous
Signature: Jeremy

Great Ash Sphinx Caterpillar
Great Ash Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Jeremy,
We have determined that your caterpillar is a Great Ash Sphinx Caterpillar,
Sphinx chersis, based on the images and description on BugGuide which states:  “Larva – greenish or pinkish with seven long diagonal lines sometimes edged with pink. Spiracles elongate, black ringed with white. Horn blue or pink.”  While doing our research, we encountered this blog posting and we have written in with an identification.

Letter 11 – Fig Sphinx Caterpillar


Caterpillar, unknown species
November 1, 2009
We found this very large beautiful orange and blue caterpillar on the ground (dirt) next a wood pile in deep south Texas on November, 1. Weather is clear and temperature is about 70 degrees. Can you tell us if this becoimes a moth and if so what type? There are very large brown moths in this area this time of the year. We no nothing of their species, etc.
Floyd Woods
Mission, TX

Ficus Sphinx Caterpillar
Ficus Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Floyd,
This is the caterpillar of the Fig Sphinx, Pachylia ficus.  We suspect there is a fig tree nearby and that the Fig Sphinx Caterpillar has spent the season feeding on the leaves, unnoticed.  It has left the tree to burrow underground where it will pupate.  The adult moths are streamlined creatures with olive brown upper wings and striped underwings.  You can see images of the adult moth on Bill Oehlke’s wonderful website.  We love the photo showing the tiny horn.  Sphinx Caterpillars are often called Hornworms, and the Ficus Sphinx has a tiny horn as the family characteristic goes.

Ficus Sphinx Caterpillar
Ficus Sphinx Caterpillar

Letter 12 – Striped Morning Sphinx sighted in Los Angeles


tiger moth ?
Location: Los Angeles, CA
March 25, 2011 1:11 pm
This moth was hugging a clump of dwarf umbrella plant, probably waiting for the sun to come out after the overnight rain.
Looking at the pictures afterwards I noticed it was hanging from its front legs with the other legs stretched.
I think it’s a tiger moth. I do remember finding a fairly large reddish-brown chrysalis a month ago but didn’t think to take a photo. I wonder if it overwintered in that.
Signature: Laurentiu

Striped Morning Sphinx

Dear Laurentiu,
What a beautiful Striped Morning Sphinx or White Lined Sphinx.  We see several each year in Mt Washington, but our north facing garden is still too cold to expect them to be flying.  We expect to begin to see Striped Morning Sphinxes at the porch light and resting on the screen door on the first warm and sunny days after the rain ends.

Letter 13 – One Eyed Sphinx


Beautiful moth on front porch
July 7, 2010
I photographed this moth on our front porch. After a few days I noticed it hadn’t moved so I touched it and it spread it’s wings more and these pink eyes appeared, after several more days it laid eggs, can I hatch them and what kind of food do they need?
North west Washington state

One Eyed Sphinx

Hi Gary,
Your moth,
Smerinthus cerisyi, is one of the Sphinx Moths or Hawkmoths in the family Sphingidae and there is an excellent profile of the species on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  It is commonly called the One Eyed Sphinx, a name that doesn’t make much sense considering the bilateral symmetry of its anatomy.  The one eye is a comparison of the characteristics of the eyespots of other species like the Blinded Sphinx, Paonias excaecata, also profiled on the Oehlke site, or the Twin Spotted Sphinx, Smirinthus jamaicensis, also profiled on the Oehlke site.  The One Eyed Sphinx is also known as Cerisy’s Sphinx.  Your two photos together are an excellent example of the protective coloration of the One Eyed Sphinx.  While resting, the eyespots or ocelli are hidden, but if the moth is disturbed by a predator, like the pecking of a bird, the moth reveals its eyespots and the bird may be startled into thinking that the prey might really be a larger predator.  Many butterflies and moths have such ocelli, and there are nice examples posted to BugGuide.  According to Bill Oehlke’s website, the caterpillars will feed on the leaves of willow and poplar.  According to BugGuide, the caterpillars will feed on the leaves of pear and plum as well as willow and poplar.

One Eyed Sphinx (showing two ocelli)

Letter 14 – Gaudy Sphinx


I know you are incredibally busy. You previuosly helped me identify mournful sphinx moths that feed on flowers in my backyard and hover like hummingbirds. I have a new photo of a gaudy sphinx I’ve attached. Can you please tell me the difference between hawk moths and sphinx moths? Do all sphinx moths hover like hummingbirds? Are there hawk moths in Central Florida?Thanks,
Tobey Barr

Gaudy Sphinx Moth
Gaudy Sphinx Moth

Hi Tobey,
Thanks so much for your gorgeous photo of a Gaudy Sphinx. To answer your question, Sphinx Moths and Hawk Moths are the same, but it is a local preference. In the U.S. we say Sphinx and Brits call them Hawk Moths.

Letter 15 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar in Puerto Rico


tetrio sphinx
Love your site. Some friends are living in Ocean Park, Puerto Rico, and took this beautiful picture. There was an unidentified caterpillar on ‘caterpillars 1’, but then i found the same one again on ‘caterpillars 4’ identified as the tetrio sphinx. i also found this site very informative http://www.silkmoths.bizland.com/Sphinx/ptetrio.htm thanks!
M. Phipps

Hi M.,
We generally turn to Bill Oehlke’s fabulous website when we need a Sphinx Moth identified.

Letter 16 – Pacific Green Sphinx


Subject: Green moth
Location: Gilroy CA: Watsonville Road near Uvas Creek
January 17, 2015 3:11 pm
I rescued this green moth from our cat last night. I’ve never seen one like it. It was around 10 PM, high scattered clouds, and about 65° out.  My cat was chasing the green moth, which I was able to catch and release. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Signature:  Bob

Pacific Green Sphinx
Pacific Green Sphinx

Dear Bob,
This gorgeous moth is a Pacific Green Sphinx or Bear Sphinx,
 Proserpinus lucidus.  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas:  “adults fly as a single brood from late January to March and nectar at flowers. Moths can be spotted much earlier (mid December) in more southerly locations (San Diego, California; Mexico) when weather conditions are right. ”   Because you were kind enough to rescue this Pacific Green Sphinx from your cat, who we imagine was a bit miffed and missing out on a thrilling toy, we are tagging your submission with the Bug Humanitarian Award.

Pacific Green Sphinx
Pacific Green Sphinx

Hi Daniel,
Thanks—that was quick!  I just made a $25 donation to <whatsthatbug.com> to show my appreciation.
Keep up the good work.
Bob Crane

Thanks so much for your generosity Bob.

You’re sure welcome.  I saw that you have a book published with some great reviews, so I ordered 2, one for my grandkids and one for me.  Quite a price range, from about $7 to $80!
Thanks to the Internet it was pretty easy to have my moth identified.  I took entomology in college, but I can’t imagine identifying the moth like we did in the olden days, trudging to the library, looking at numerous books, taking pictures, having the film developed….

Hi again Bob,
You are correct that I did write The Curious World of Bugs, and though it was well reviewed, it did not become a best seller, hence there was but a single printing.  I guess the high price means it is becoming collectable.  Perhaps there will be a second printing if there is a demand.  Digital imaging and cellular telephones that have the capablity of taking images and distributing images on the internet has changed the face of research.

Letter 17 – Two Achemon Sphinx Caterpillars and a Zephyr Eyed Silkmoth Caterpillar


caterpillar ID
Location: Jemez Springs NM; Near Los Alamos New Mexico
September 3, 2011 5:53 pm
Hey, we found three caterpillars we haven’t seen before. 2 we found on our homeschool fieldtrip to the Jemez mountains NM, right by the hotsprings near Jemez Springs, 36 Miles west of Los Alamos. The green one is 3+ inches long and about 1/2 inch wide. It’s green with a ”spraypaintish looking”, reddish spot on top from head to tail.It has one yellow and black ”eye” on the rear end. White parallel streaks on the side.
We call the other one a ”snowflake caterpillar” because it’s spiky hair has a delicate snowflake like top. The two spikes in the front are a little bit higher then the rest. My kids say it stings.
The orange one is from our own frontyard in Taos NM. We never saw one like it before. It has a ”stinger” in the front, and two painted on eyes. It has white slashes on the side.
What are they???
Jenny, River (9), and Jordan (4)
ShineOnBeyond – homeschool
Signature: ShineOnBeyond Homeschool

Pre-pupal Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Jenny, River, Jordan and the rest of the ShineOnBeyond Homeschool students,
Two of your caterpillars are the same species.   The green caterpillar is a pre-pupal Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar.  See this image on BugGuide for comparison.  There are several different color variations on this species, and the pink blush at the top of the green caterpillar is, we believe, an indication that the caterpillar is preparing to pupate.  Many species change color just prior to pupation.  The orange caterpillar is an earlier instar or stage of the same species, the Achemon Sphinx.  See this image on BugGuide for comparison.  When the caterpillar molts between the fourth and fifth or final instar, the caudal horn is lost, leaving a caudal bump that resembles an eye.

Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar (third or fourth instar)

The remaining caterpillar is one of the Giant Silkmoths in the genus Automeris, and we believe it is the Zephyr Eyed Silkmoth, Automeris zephyria.  We believe this is also an earlier instar, and most images online of the caterpillar of the Zephyr Eyed Silkmoth are of the fifth and final instar.  This BugGuide image shows several caterpillars with the markings represented on your individual.  We found a very close visual match on the members only World’s Largest Saturniidae website, but nonmembers cannot view the image.

Zephyr Eyed Silkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Bug guy,
Thanks so much – you have just made it to the top of our list of favorite resources. Keep up the amazing work, you rock!!!!


Letter 18 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar


Caterpillar: Pseudosphinx tetrio
Hi Daniel and Lisa Anne,
This Pseudosphinx tetrio is one more critter from Nevis, Leeward Islands, West Indies, in May of 2006. They were only half-grown, and they were eating the leaves of Yellow Allamanda (Allamanda cathartica) bushes, up at 1,000 feet. I know you already have several images of this species, but I couldn’t resist trying to get a good shot of one; they are so lovely. This picture shows very well the difference between a caterpillar’s true legs and false legs. And by accident the shot includes a lovely, slightly out-of-focus piece of caterpillar poop! (By the way, I have found that if you put a piece of caterpillar poop into a dish of water, the poop comes apart into rather pretty, flat, flower-shaped layers of green cellulose, which look like confetti!) These caterpillars eat Plumeria, Allamanda, and other poisonous plants, so although they are not poisonous for humans to handle, I am sure that to a bird looking for a snack, these caterpillars are, at the very least, really, really horrible-tasting… All good wishes to you both, and thanks for a really great site,
Susan J. Hewitt

Hi again Susan,
Thank you so much for sending in your textbook quality image and first hand account of the Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar. Occasionally we get a letter from southern Florida regarding this tropical species.

Letter 19 – Sphinx Caterpillar, probably Erinnyis ello


What kind of butterfly or moth is this caterpillarit?
September 10, 2009
We have a buttlerfly garden and while weeding in an overgrown area we came across several blue green on top and green on underside caterpillars. They had 1 horn on the tail that is not deadly and when touched, it was soft not hard. Has single yellowgreen strip down each side with strip becoming white as it nears head area on sides. Has 2 small black spots encircled in yellow/white on upper back with a red spot on the side next to each black spot. Measures 3.5 – 4.0 inches. No fur, very smooth skin texture. No ripples or contours on body. We searched our field guide and the web with no results. Also posted picture on face book with no positive results.
Any help would be appreciated., Thanks, Ken Jewett
South Florida, United States

Ello Sphinx Caterpillars
Ello Sphinx Caterpillars

Hi Ken,
These are Sphinx Moth Caterpillars in the genus Erinnyis, most probably Erinnyis ello, the Ello Sphinx, based on photos on Bill Oehlke’s awesome website.  We would not entirely discount the possibility that it might be Erinnyis alope, also pictured on Bill Oehlke’s website.  Sphinx Moth Caterpillars are called Hornworms.  Here is a list of food plants that Bill Oehlke associates with the Ello Sphinx:  “Larvae feed on papaya (Carica papaya) in the Caricaceae family and on Cnidoscolus angustidens and other plants in the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) including poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), guava (Psidium species) in the myrtle family (Myrtaceae) and on also saffron plum (Bumelia angustifolia/Bumelia celastrina) in the Sapotaceae family. : EUPHORBIACEAE. Manilkara bahamensis has also been reported as a host as have Willow Bustic (Bumelia salicifolia) and Painted Leaf (Poinsettia heterophylla).

Letter 20 – White Lined Sphinx Moth


White-lined Sphinx Moth
I took these shots last year, and from your posts I believe they are white-lined sphinx moths. However, all posts that have identified these moths have come from the California/Nevada area. Is it odd that I took these shots in Oklahoma? Thanks,
Brian Woodard
Oklahoma City, OK

Hi Brian,
This is a White Lined Sphinx Moth, and Oklahoma is within its range. BugGuide has received submissions from the East coast, West coast, South coast and Canada. Bill Oehlke lists the species as being “widespread and common from Central America north through Mexico and the West Indies to most of the United States and southern Canada.”

Letter 21 – Alope Sphinx Caterpillar, probably


Erinnyis ello dark form ?
Location: Naples, FL
November 22, 2010 11:54 pm
I knew something was eating the leaves on the papaya but I could not see anything during the day. I found this specimen munching on my papaya at 10 PM on 11/22/10. Temperature was 70 F. I think it is a Erinnyis ello dark form but could it be a Erinnyis alope dark form?
Thank you.
Signature: Robert

Probably Alope Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Robert,
Your Sphinx does look very much like the dark Ello Sphinx Caterpillar on the Sphingidae of the Americas website as well as resembling an image posted to BugGuide.  It feeding on papaya is further evidence that the identification is correct.  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas website, the caterpillar of
Erynnyis alope looks quite similar and also feeds on Papaya, but it is not as common in Florida.  We will check with Bill Oehlke to see if he can provide a conclusive identification.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you for you reply.  I have a large “Orange Jasmine” bush that flowers often and profusely. This brings in lots of flying insects and the flying insects attract tropical orb spiders.
I have attached some photos.  You may use any of the photos I have sent to you, my compliments.  If there are numbers in the file name they are the year, month, day.
I live on eight acres, about 8 miles east of Naples, FL.
Robert Lenahan

Hi Robert,
We just heard back from Bill Oehlke and he believes your caterpillar is probably
Erinnyis alope.  We will probably be posting your image of the unidentified Sphinx Moth as soon as we identify it.

Bill Oehlke Responds
Most likely alope if found on papaya.
Although I also list papaya as a host for ello, Tuttle indicates ello is most often found on poinsettia while alope is most often found on papaya.
Bill Oehlke

Letter 22 – Sphinx Moth: Smerinthus ophthalmica


Subject: Beautiful Moth
Location: Seattle, WA
June 17, 2014 8:54 pm
We took these pictures on the deck of our apartment building a few days ago. Since yesterday the moth has come inside the building and is now perched on our apartment door frame. It hasn’t moved in 24 hours. What is this gorgeous moth? Should we be worried about its stillness?
Signature: Thanks – Lasara

Smerinthus ophthalmica
Smerinthus ophthalmica

Dear Lasara,
Your moth is a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth that we have identified as
Smerinthus ophthalmica on the Sphingidae of the Americas website where we learned that it “closely resembles Smerinthus cerisyi, and until recently (2010) had been synonymized with cerisyi.”  So, though this moth was not unknown in the Pacific Northwest, it has recently been reclassified as a new species.  The slender curved abdomen indicates this is a male.  Often moths rest a few days after metamorphosis and we do not believe you need to worry.

Sphinx Moth
Sphinx Moth

Letter 23 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar from Dominica


caterpillar identification
Location: Dominica
February 2, 2011 3:36 pm
Dear Bugman,
I took these photos on the island of Dominica in the Caribbean in December of 2010. The caterpillar was very large, about 7 inches long. It had a very thin black tail and orange-red head. I hope you are able to identify it. Thank you.
Signature: Deb Beyer

Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Deb,
We instantly recognized your caterpillar to be that of the Tetrio Sphinx,
Pseudosphinx tetrio. The Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar feeds upon the leaves of Plumeria or Frangipani, Allamandra, and other members of the Dogbane family.  You can see photos of the adult moth and get additional information on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Letter 24 – Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar


What is this caterpillar
August 24, 2009
I live in Western Newfoundland. My grandson found the attached caterpillar in his back garden. what abeauty…The “horn” is at the back end. I put is in a container and addedafew shrub leaves which is quickley began to feed on. I’ve since given it its freedom (I may be sorry :O)
Keith P.
Wetsern Newfoundland, Canada

Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar
Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Keith,
This beautiful caterpillar is a Laurel Sphinx, Sphinx kalmiae.  We quickly located it on Bill Oehlke’s awesome website.

Thank you for your prompt reply and interesting literature.  It certainly is a very beautiful creature.   I’m in deep trouble with my wife if it decides to breed in the garden – we have Lilac L
Keith Piercey
Corner Brook

Hi again Keith,
WE will try to get you off the hook in the interest of preserving your marital bliss.  Though a large Sphinx Caterpillar can consume a considerable quantity of leaves, this does not do lasting damage to the plant.  By the time your Sphinx Caterpillars appear in a given year, the lilacs have finished blooming.  We doubt that there would ever be more than a few Laurel Sphinx Caterpillars on a given lilac.  Some moths lay all their eggs in one location, but Sphinx Moths tend to be more selective, and place single eggs on distant leaves.

Letter 25 – Striped Morning Sphinx


Alien Moth
Hi Daniel!
Now I know I must be overloading you with all my bug pictures, but I have one more unidentified bug for you! We spotted this humming bird like moth in the fall just outside of Las Vegas… I haven’t been able to find any info on it yet… Is it a moth? It sure is pretty…
Thank you again for your amazing site… I LOVE checking out all the pictures and everybody’s crazy bug stories… especially that lady with the bugs and snakes in Mexico… so funny!… and what a cute gecko! =)
Best wishes,
Leah Balecha
Hollywood CA

Hi again Leah,
Your moth is a Striped Morning Sphinx or White-Lined Sphinx Moth, Hylas lineata. It is a very common Hawkmoth or Hummingbird Moth with a huge range in the new world. It is probably found in the old world as well, as in introduction. The caterpillars are Sphinx caterpillars with a caudal horn and they eat a wide range of plants, being particularly fond of fuschias. Adults are often seen flying in the day when it is cloudy, but more commonly at dusk and dawn. I used to see large numbers on the walls in the open hallways at USC when I taught there.

Letter 26 – Satellite Sphinx from Mexico


Mexican Moths (or butterflies)
December 29, 2009
One a cruise this August leaving Puerto Vallarta, Mexico the ships lights were drawing a large number of moths miles out to sea. One was 6-7″ across and extraordinarily “hairy” (2 photos). The other was about 3″ across the wings and with nice geometric patters (1 photo). I am submitting 2 for identification help.
Thank You
Kevin Schick
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Satellite Sphinx
Satellite Sphinx

Hi Kevin,
Your smaller moth is a Satellite Sphinx, Eumorpha satellitia.  You can read more about it on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  The species ranges from the southern portions of the U.S. down to South America.

Letter 27 – Ello Sphinx Caterpillar and Emerged Adult


Large, smooth, green caterpillar in Florida
Hello Bugman!
I hope you can help me. I found this lovely, large caterpillar on a silver buttonwood bush in my Florida yard. I live in Brevard County on the east coast. Two sites have suggested that it may be a Tantalus Moth, but I could not find photos of a Tantalus Moth caterpillar online or in any books to verify it. This picture shows the critter on the branch he was eating. Do you recognize this caterpillar? He is 3″ long, the size of my index finger. Thank you!
Donna Peters
Indialantic, FL

Fig Sphinx Caterpillar
Fig Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Donna,
We are nearly certain that this is the caterpillar of the Fig Sphinx, Pachylia ficus. This is a highly variable caterpillar. We have checked Bill Oehlke’s excellent website, and the coloration on your specimen somewhat resembles one on his site, but it is still different. We are going to copy Bill Oehlke on this response so he can verify that our identification is correct. If our identification is correct, then the silver buttonwood bush, Conocarpus erectus, would be a new host plant for the caterpillar which feeds on members of the genus Ficus, the figs. Bill Oehlke may also request permission to post your interesting color variation on his own website.

Thank you, so much, for following up with me. I have several silver buttonwoods, and I have poured over all of them looking for more caterpillars, but this guy seems to be it. One of our neighbors has a fig tree, which may be worth mentioning. I don’t know if it translated in the photos, but the darker shade on the caterpillar’s back is purplish. Quite lovely!
Again, thank you.
Donna Peters

October 16, 2008
Here is reply I sent to Donna regarding “Pachylia ficus”
I am going to ask Jim Tuttle for his opinion. I wil get back to you and to Donna if I get an id from Jim

Hi Donna,
I am pretty sure the larvae are of one of the Erinnyis species, probably Erinnyis ello, possibly Erinnyis alope. I wil try for a second opinion and get back to you.
I am almost positive they are not Pachylia ficus.
Bill Oehlke

Jim Tuttle has confirmed the larvae are Erinnyis ello.
Bill Oehlke

Update: 11 November 2008
Hi Bill,
The caterpillar you identified for me as Erinnyis ello emerged today and was released this evening. I have attached a photo. It vibrated it’s wings on the potted plant for about 5 minutes, then flew away over the house. My 7 year old son loved it. Thanks again! 🙂
Donna Peters

Ello Sphinx
Ello Sphinx

Hi Donna,
Thanks for updating us on the emergence of your adult Ello Sphinx.

Letter 28 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillars


Any idea what these guys are?
We live on an island in the Souther Caribbean (although many of our non-native insects have arrived from the US on ornamental plant imports. We found one of our ornamental trees covered with these caterpillars this morning — they were not obvious as late as yesterday. Do you have any idea of what they are and what is the bast way to control them? many thanks
Alan Gross

Hi Alan,
These are Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillars, Pseudosphinx tetrio. It is native to the Central and South American tropics, but is also found in Florida. The caterpillars feed on plumeria and other members of the dogbane family. You can hand pick the caterpillars, but you might also want to just let them be as they will not seriously harm the plants. The leaves they eat will be replaced by new leaves.

Letter 29 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar


What kind of caterpillar is this?
We live on Cudjoe Key, FL just 23 miles from Key West. We found 2 of these, both we trying to crawl up the side of our house. Thanks for your help,
G. Moore

Hi G,
This is a Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar.

Letter 30 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar


unknown caterpillar
Here is an interesting caterpillar that was crawling across a friend’s patio on Sanibel Island, FL. Never have seen one like it. Looks similar in shape to some of the Sphinx moth caterpillars on your site, but different in color. Not sure what it feed upon since it was on a concrete slab, and with all of our exotic species that have escaped into our environment in FL was curious as to what it was: (Ruler is in Inches) Thanks for any help!
Barry P. Ruta
Sun City, Florida

Hi Barry,
The Tetrio Sphinx is a mostly tropical species that is occasionally found in the southern parts of Florida, Mississippi, Texas and Arizona. The caterpillar feeds on plumeria, a widely cultivated tropical plant with fragrant flowers. This fully grown caterpillar was probably looking for a nice place to burrow and form its pupa. The strong flying moths have been found as far north as Nebraska and Pennsylvania, according to Bill Oehlke’s wonderful website.

Hi, Daniel!
Thanks so much for helping us to identify this spectacular caterpillar! And it makes sense – the yard is full of Plumeria and other members of the Apocynaceae family members! I appreciate your help. Kind Regards,

Letter 31 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar


Venezuela Caterpiller
Hallo Bugman,
I saw this interessting Caterpiller in Merida / Venezuela. The yellow stripes were much more flashy in the sunlight than at the picture.

Hi again Christian,
This one we know. This is a Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar, Pseudosphinx tetrio.

Letter 32 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar


bahamas bug
hi, this bug lives on my property in the bahamas. it seems to be eating all my trees. can you tell me what it is? or what it will grow to become. is it a vemonous caterpillar?

Hi Robert,
This is a Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar, Pseudosphinx tetrio, which feeds on Plumeria. It is not venomous. It matures into a large gray moth.

Letter 33 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar


What is this Caterpillar?
This picture was taken on the island of Eustatius in the Caribbean in February of this year. It was feeding on a plant with orange flowers. Any idea what it is.
Carl Anderson

Hi Carl,
This could well be the most gorgeous photo of a Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar, Pseudosphinx tetrio, ever taken. Thank you for sending it in.

Letter 34 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar


Hello Bugman,
Found this caterpillar on a walk in the southern pacific Costa Rica. Any idea of what butterfly/moth it turns into? Or maybe it’s just a many legged insect?
Dean Fujioka

Hi Dean,
This is a Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar, Pseudosphinx tetrio. There are numerous images online.

Letter 35 – Tetrio Sphinx


black caterpillar with yellow stripes and red ends (Brazil)
November 6, 2009
I spotted this huge caterpillar here in Rio de Janeiro and now I wonder what it is, and if it will turn into some beautiful butterfly one day! Can you help me? Thank you!
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro

Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar
Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Anne,
This gorgeous caterpillar is a Tetrio Sphinx, Pseudosphinx tetrio.  It feeds on Plumeria.  It is primarily a Caribbean and South American species, but it is also found in Florida and  other southern states.  You may read more about the Tetrio Sphinx on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Letter 36 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar


red headed yellow and black striped body caterpillar-like thing
April 4, 2010
had a lobster looking tail thing with a stinger on the back side… when the wind blew or it felt motion on the stinger thing it freaked out. it spent the entire day climbing the side wall of a 6 story building…
st. thomas, usvi

Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi jesi,
The Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar, the species represented in your photograph, is a common species in the Caribbean.

Letter 37 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar


Unknown giant caterpillar
Location:  Pinecrest, Miami-Dade County, FL
August 23, 2010 4:55 pm
Can you identify this caterpillar? Today (Aug. 23, 2010) it was on our chain link fence (sorry no host plant to help!). It is about 5 inches long. The colors are not exactly true in the photo. What looks to be yellow is really more green/chartruse. We’ve searched books and the web and are stumped (not an easy admission for 2 biologists).
Thank you

Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Sherry,
Your caterpillar is a Hornworm in the family Sphingidae, more specifically, a Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar,
Pseudosphinx tetrio.  You may read about the Tetrio Sphinx on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  Bill writes:  “The Tetrio Sphinx Moth, Pseudosphinx tetrio (wingspan: 5 – 5 1/2 inches (12.7 – 14 cm) females larger than males), flies throughout tropical and subtropical American lowlands. It is very common in Guadeloupe and Martinique, but poorly attracted by light.
Generally the moth is seen from southern Brazil: Mato Grosso, Minas Gerais (LV);  Argentina: Salta, Tucuman; etc., north through Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies to south Florida, southern Mississippi, Texas, and southern Arizona.”  The caterpillars feed on the leaves of several plants including Frangipani (Plumieria rubra)[sic].  See the Plumeria Society of America website.

Thank you, Daniel, for your very fast response.  Interesting that we have several frangipani, a non-native, about 20-30 feet away from where we found the critter.  We’ll take a good look at the trees when the sun comes up.

Letter 38 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillars from Brazil


Brazilian bug
Location: Mato Grosso
November 9, 2011 5:24 am
I found this bug on the veranda of my house in Brazil. I live in a town called Chapada dos Guimarães which is supposedly in a transition zone between the Cerrado biome and the Amazon basin biome. On the property there is a patch of gallery forest along a stream and also a patch of former pasture reverting to forest. There is pronounced dry season from June to September. I saw the bug in October after the rains had begun. I was quite surprised when it opened its wings to reveal the gorgeous colors – reminds me a bit of a planthopper Fulgoridae
Could you also identify these large caterpillars that have been browsing recently on a frangipani shrub?
thank you
Signature: Jon Kempsey

Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillars

Dear Jon,
These are the caterpillars of the Tetrio Sphinx moth, a species found in Florida as well as much of the American tropics.  They are  feeding on a Plumeria or frangipani, one of the known food plants.  Your other photos did not attach so we cannot comment on the other creature.  In the future, please only include one species per email submission.  If you attempt to resubmit the photos, please use the standard submission form that requests information on location.

Thank you for identifying the caterpillars for me – I have frequently seen the moths in my house. I will re-submit the other photos.
best wishes, Jon

Letter 39 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar from Guatemala


Subject: Unknown butterfly caterpillar Guatemala
Location: North of Guatemala
January 14, 2013 5:41 am
Hi there,
heres a photo (taken last week) of a caterpillar found in the north of Guatemala, close to El Mirador.
Its yellow stripes/bands glow in the dark.
Thanks for your help!
Signature: L.F.

Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi L.F.,
This is not a butterfly caterpillar.  It is the caterpillar of a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth known as the Tetrio Sphinx.  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas website, it ranges from the warmer areas of the United States including Florida and Texas south into South America including Brazil.  It is also found in the Caribbean.  The caterpillars feed upon:  “Larvae feed on Allamanda cathartica and Frangipani (Plumieria rubra) and probably other members of the Dogbane family: Apocynaceae.  The brightly coloured caterpillar is easy to find in gardens. The larva feeding on a tree of Himatanthus.  This tree produces a white, toxic latex which is incorporated into the tissues of the caterpillar without harming it. The toxins in the caterpillar, however, are toxic to would-be-predators. Larvae with red-yellow-black colours usually carry toxins and are left alone by birds.”

Letter 40 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar from Brazil


Subject: Caterpiler
Location: Atibaia Sao Paulo Brasil
March 9, 2013 2:03 pm
Eu moro num sitio em Atibaia ha 9 anos e nunca tinha visto esse tipo de lagarto. E BEM grande!
Gostaria de saber o que e? Que tipo de borboleta vai ser etc..
Muito obrigada pela informacao! Parabens pelo site! adorei.
Maria Helena
Signature: Maria Helena

Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar
Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Maria Helena,
We do not speak Portuguese, and we hope after posting your letter, we will be able to use the translation feature on our website to decipher what you would like to know.  Alas, that did not seem to work since we cannot translate an English site into English, despite part of it being posted in Portuguese.  These are caterpillars of a Tetrio Sphinx, and we especially like the photo of a pair feeding in a plumeria or frangipani tree.

Ed. Note:  Response to our automated response.
Thank you for replying!
If it’s possible to identify the caterpillar it would be great! I understand that it’s not easy with a small group of staff.
Thank you and best regards!
Maria Helena

Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillars in Plumeria
Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillars in Plumeria

Update:  Translation courtesy of Babylon.
I live on a site in Atibaia for 9 years and had never seen this type of lizard. AND AS WELL great! I would like to know what is? What kind of flap will be etc. Thank you very much for the information! Congratulations on your site! I loved it.

I am so sorry! I didn’t know if I should write in Portuguese or English!
Well now I know what these wonderful creatures are!
I am so pleased as I have never seen them before. I thought they were butterflies where in fact they are moths. I live in the middle of a forest and we have one Frangipani tree.
We also have many birds, I am worried that they will be taken by them as they (birds) are quite large. toucans, hawks parrots and parakeets. Is there anything I should do, or just let nature take it’s course?
Anyway, once again thank you so much for replying so quickly!
Best wishes
Maria Helena

According to our friend Julian Donahue, a retired lepidopterist from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, and we are loosely paraphrasing him, the main reason we have bugs is to feed birds.  Letting nature take is course should be just fine unless things are out of balance in your area.

Once again thank you, no all is normal here and I did imagine that I would have to let nature take it’s course.
I hope I will have the chance to see these beautiful creatures when they become moths!
Once again thank you!
Best regards and wishes
Maria Helena

Letter 41 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: Information on a Caterpillar
Location: Ojochal de Osa, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
October 2, 2014 3:35 pm
I am interested in knowing more about this beautiful caterpillar.
Thank you,
Signature: Anna

Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar
Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Anna,
This is the caterpillar of a Tetrio Sphinx, a species found in much of Central and South America.

Thank you so much for your reply.  You might smile to know that it was under my Frangipani tree 🙂


Letter 42 – Tetrio Sphinx Caterpillars from Belize


Subject: Alice in Wonderland caterpillars
Location: Toledo District, Belize
October 30, 2014 9:09 pm
Hello, bugman and devoted staff,
These caterpillars repeatedly defoliate the plumeria, which suffer no apparent ill effects. Can you tell me what these turn into?
Many thanks.
Signature: Tanya

Tetrio Sphinxes
Tetrio Sphinxes

Hi Tanya,
The bright colors of these Tetrio Sphinxes are quite spectacular and they really do look like fantasy creations of the imagination.

Letter 43 – a pair of Striped Morning Sphinxes


2 striped morning sphinx?
Thank you so much for making this site available. My family had seen these two in our backyard and had no idea what they were. We did a search for bug and humingbird and found your site. I think they are a couple of striped morning sphinx. Thanks again,
Trey in Texas

Hi Trey,
You are absolutely correct.

Letter 44 – Another Big Poplar Sphinx from California


Hi Bugman,
We photographed this moth today on the back porch of our house on Edwards Air Force Base California. We’re in the western Mojave desert. I’ve been unable to find a resource to identify it and was hoping you could help. Wingtip to wingtip was about 7 inches.
William and Sara Wilson
Edwards AFB, CA

Hi William and Sara,
This is the second image we received today of a Big Poplar Sphinx, Pachysphinx occidentalis, also known as the Western Poplar Sphinx, from California.

Letter 45 – Another Gallium Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: What is this Critter?
Location: Freeport, ME (Southern Maine)
September 26, 2014 5:54 am
Hello Bugman, I spied this critter the other day – it was trying to dig a hole in the compacted dirt road. It was about 4 inches long and about the width of my little finger. I’m in Freeport, ME…southern Maine on the coast. The dirt road leads to a campground..there is also a farm — cattle, goats, chickens, turkeys….
I wish I had turned it over with a stick to see what the legs were like.
Thanks so much for your time!
Signature: Annie

Gallium Sphinx
Gallium Sphinx

Dear Annie,
We just finished posting another image from Idaho of a Gallium Sphinx Caterpillar or Bedstraw Hawkmoth Caterpillar,
Hyles gallii, and you may read more about it on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  According to the Butterflies and Moths of North America, its range is “Newfoundland south through Maine to Pennsylvania; west to Alaska, Yukon Territory, and California. Also found in Eurasia.”

Letter 46 – Azalea Sphinx


Two moths
I am a college student at York College of PA in central Pennsylvania, not far from the Maryland border. I am currently working at the college for the summer, and yesterday I saw something very strange when I was outside on my lunch break. Two moths like none I’ve ever seen before were just sitting around on the concrete right near each other, but they were two very different-looking species. They were about the same size (two inches across), but one was white with black spots and the other was army green with orange on the insides of his wings. I was worried about them, so I tried to move them into the grass for safety’s sake. The white and black moth went into the grass willingly, but the green one flew around and I didn’t try to catch it. Today I ate my lunch in the same spot, and although the white and black moth was gone, the green one was still around- all day. Today after work, I gently packaged him up and brought him home so I could take some pictures, which I have sent to you.
I am worried about the green moth. He’s been very lethargic, even when I was handling him, and he is currently downstairs on my porch in the same spot I placed him when I brought him home. I wish I could have gotten a picture of the other moth. He looked very similar to the Eyed Tiger Moth on your site… I’m about 75% sure that’s what he was. However, isn’t it strange to see one in central Pennsylvania? Anyway, this brings me to my two big questions. First, can you tell me what type of moth is in the pictures I have sent you? I can’t seem to figure it out and I’ve looked everywhere. Second, and more importantly, do you have any idea what these two little guys would be doing hanging out TOGETHER on pavement in the middle of the day in central PA? It just seemed so strange and unnatural to see them in this way. Is it common to see something like this, or could they have been, like, specimens that escaped from somewhere?

Hi Eliza,
Your letter is so sweet. First question is your olive drab moth. It is an Azalea Sphinx, Darapsa pholus, and is quite common in Pennsylvania. The caterpillar feeds on viburnum and azalea. Regarding the other moth. It sounds like some type of Tiger Moth. The Eyed Tiger Moth, Ecpantheria deflorata, is rare in New England, but ranges south from there. It is common in the Carolinas. Pennsylvania is part of their normal range. The two moths may have been attracted to a nearby light and just found themselves on the sidewalk at dawn. Moths are not long lived, and your Azalea Sphinx may have just been nearing the end of a long, for an insect, life.

Thank you so much! Good news about greenie though- he was flying around last night and I hope to see him gone this morning.

Letter 47 – Azalea Sphinx


Hummingbird Moth?
This Moth drinks nectar from the same Honeysuckle flowers that the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds in our yard do. This is definitely not the “Clearwing” variety of the Hummingbird Moth, which I read about before. I took this decent picture of this type of regular wing moth hovering in front of a Honeysuckle flower a couple of years ago and am sending it along for identification. We see this type of moth every summer in Western Rhode Island, though not as often as the “Clearwing” variety. We have not seen it yet this season as I think it’s still too early in the season.
Thanks, Chris

Hi Chris,
This is an Azalea Sphinx, Darapsa choerilus. Though Bill Oehlke, who runs a most amazing Sphingidae site, does not list this moth in Rhode Island, it is found in surrounding states. You should contact him so he can list your siting for the state as this might represent the first official siting in Rhode Island.

Letter 48 – Banded Orbweaver eats White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar


Orb Weaver catches Caterpillar in her web and encases it in silk.
Location: Cheney Kansas
October 17, 2011 8:16 pm
I rescued this spider at work from being chopped up by my weed wacker. I took it home and set it free in the garden.
The next day I searched the garden to see if she would cast her web in my yard . I found her Web and she had already caught several moths and was in the process of taking care of a White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar.
I’ve included several photos and you can really see in detail how she uses her spinneret to encase her future meal.
Signature: Chris Harris

Banded Orbweaver

Hi Chris,
Thanks so much for sending us your wonderful photos of a Banded Orbweaver eating a White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar.

Banded Orbweaver eats White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

We don’t believe caterpillars are a typical prey for Orbweavers that tend to snare flying or hopping insects.

Banded Orbweaver eats White Lined Sphinx



Letter 49 – Big Poplar Sphinx


a cottonwood sphinx moth?
When coming back from lunch this afternoon, I happened to notice this moth on the wall just outside the building where I work in Northwest New Mexico . Is this a cottonwood sphinx? That’s what the local biologist said it was, but I cannot find any information on a “cottonwood” sphinx. The closest thing I found on the internet was the “big poplar” or the “modest” sphinx. Is the moth I found one of these? Thanks in advance, what a great site.

Hi Nicole,
Some writers think that Pachysphinx modesta is a subspecies of Pachysphinx occidentalis, your Big Poplar Sphinx. Both species sometimes, depending upon the author, are called the Big Poplar Sphinx. Yours is the Western species. You can find it on this site.

Letter 50 – Western Poplar Sphinx


Newly Emerged Poplar Sphinx?
Fri, May 29, 2009 at 8:09 PM
Hi–This morning there was quite a ruckus in our back yard, as the cat had apparently found a very newly-emerged Sphinx Moth. At first I thought it was a mouse or hummingbird (when I found it it was crawling on the cement, with the cat trying to pounce on it, much to my horror). I threw the cat inside and got some garden gloves and gently scooped him (her?) up and set him in the hanging fucshia for safety. I took pix throughout the day. It was still there around 6pm. I’m attaching 3 pix from this morning, afternoon, and evening. I think the markings on the right wing might be from the cat….
Kel Casey
Coronado, CA

Poplar Sphinx
Western Poplar Sphinx

Dear Kel,
There are two moths that may be confused that go by the common name Poplar Sphinx. Your moth is the Big Poplar Sphinx, Pachysphinx occidentalis, that is found in western North America. A similar and closely related species is the Modest Sphinx, Pachysphinx modesta, is sometimes called the Poplar Sphinx, but this is an eastern North American species. Here is what Bill Oehlke’s website has to say: “Pachysphinx modesta , the Poplar Sphinx or Modest Sphinx ranges through southern portions of all Canadian provinces and is found in the eastern half of the U.S. from Maine to northern Florida. James P. Tuttle has range maps showing it as far west as eastern Washington southward to extreme northeastern New Mexico. Most of the western specimens appear to be P. occidentalis , and I would not be surprised if there is some natural hybridization in the western states. “

Big Poplar Sphinx
Western Poplar Sphinx

BugGuide also has this information: “There is confusion regarding the common name. Holland’s 1904 publication, Covell’s Guide, and the recent Audubon Guide calls P. modesta the Big Poplar Sphinx but that name is used only for P. occidentalis by the Butterflies and Moths of North America site and several other sources. Since both species are called Big Poplar Sphinx by various sources, it would be less confusing if that name were not used at all, and replaced with either Modest Sphinx (for P. modesta ) or Western Poplar Sphinx (for P. occidentalis ).
The Modest Sphinx ( Pachysphinx modesta ) occurs coast to coast in North America, whereas the Western Poplar Sphinx ( P. occidentalis ) is restricted to western North America. “

Thanks so much. He was pretty big. I remember last year seeing a much smaller version of almost the same thing, so wasn’t sure. We do have a couple of poplar trees on and near our property.
I like the Latin name of Pachysphinx– translated to elephant sphinx?
Thanks again.

Letter 51 – Big Poplar Sphinx


Subject: moth
Location: Page Arizona
September 7, 2013 9:46 am
Hey Bugman, I was walking out my front doorband found this guy.
Signature: Matthee

Big Poplar Sphinx
Big Poplar Sphinx

Dear Matthee,
This appears to be a Western Poplar Sphinx or Big Poplar Sphinx,
Pachysphinx occidentalis.  You can read more about the Big Poplar Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Letter 52 – Big Poplar Sphinx


Subject: Interesting Photos/Identification Potentially
Location: Longmont, CO
May 17, 2015 8:32 am
I took these photos a while back (July 29, 2013) and think it was potentially the coolest bug I have encountered, since it was just so huge! This particular critter was found in Longmont, Colorado (very close to Boulder).
Can you tell me more about it? I believe when I looked around at the time, it said it was a tomato moth? Also just wanted to share with your other readers! I know the second one is blurry, but it allows for size comparison since I had my finger in the shot.
Thanks for what you do!
Signature: Claire

Big Poplar Sphinx
Big Poplar Sphinx

Dear Claire,
Your moth is not a Tomato Moth, which we presume is your memory of the Tomato Hornworm, the larva of the Five Spotted Hawkmoth,
Manduca quinquemaculatus, though your moth is in the same family, hence it bears a physical resemblance to other members of the family.  Your Big Poplar Sphinx, Pachysphinx occidentalis, is stunning, and you may read more about it on the Sphingidae of the Americas site.

Big Poplar Sphinx
Big Poplar Sphinx

Thanks so much! I really enjoy every post on your site, and feel happy to be a small part of it!

Letter 53 – Big Poplar Sphinx


Subject: moths
Location: South West New Mexico
June 25, 2016 12:10 pm
What is this large (about 6″, 15.24cm across) moth?
Signature: Susana Murphy

Big Poplar Sphinx
Big Poplar Sphinx

Dear Susana,
This lovely moth is most likely a Big Poplar Sphinx,
Pachysphinx occidentalis, based on images posted to the Sphingidae of the Americas site, though we would not rule out that it might be the closely related Modest Sphinx, Pachysphinx modesta, also pictured on Sphingidae of the Americas and also found in New Mexico.

Letter 54 – Big Poplar Sphinx


Subject:  Handsome moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Terrebonne, Oregon
Date: 07/15/2019
Time: 12:58 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this fellow on my porch railing. I was wondering what kind it is.
How you want your letter signed:  Marietta

Big Poplar Sphinx

Dear Marietta,
Your image is lovely.  We believe this is a Big Poplar Sphinx,
Pachysphinx occidentalis, based on images and information on the Sphingidae of the Americas site where it states it “flies in riparian areas and suburbs from Alberta and North Dakota west to eastern Washington; south to Texas, Arizona, southern California, and Baja California Norte.”  Because of the lack of feathering on the antennae, your individual is a female, additionally evidenced by her plump, egg-filled abdomen.

That makes sense, because even though we are in the desert, we have hybrid poplars in our yard.
Thank you.
You should keep an eye out for the larval Hornworm, pictured on BugGuide.

Thanks. I’ve seen these and others, it helps to know what they feed on. I plant tomatoes FOR the hornworms. My neighbors hate me! Ha! You can’t have big, beautiful moths without big, ugly caterpillars.
Our hybrid poplars are also very popular with the Mourning Cloak butterflies.
Thanks for your time.

Letter 55 – Big Poplar Sphinx


What’s this moth
What a great site, thanks for being there. I live in N.W.corner of CT. and we are in the middle of the woods. This has been an exceptional year for bugs and I have been taking lots of pictures. Would you be able to help identify this moth?
Thanks in advance,
Lori Welles
The Ballyhack

Hi Lori,
It sure is a bumper crop year for insects. We are working overtime and are still way behind. This is a Big Poplar Sphinx, Pachysphinx modesta. It has one of the greatest wingspans of North American Hawkmoths.

Letter 56 – Big Poplar Sphinx


Big Poplar Sphinx
July 18, 2005
I came into work this morning and from the road, I could see this moth on the side of the building. I went in for a closer look and was a little freaked out because I had never seen a moth of this size, at least not in Uncasville, Connecticut. Anyhow, I grabbed my camera, snapped a few photos, and proceeded to your website where I found out exactly just what kind of moth this was. Thanks for a great site! Enjoy the photos!
Brianne Messer
Montville Youth Service Bureau
Uncasville, CT

Hi Brianne,
We are so happy with your photo and also that you actually used our site to research and not just ask a question.

Letter 57 – Big Poplar Sphinx


I saw this guy last night after a big storm he seems to have weathered by hanging onto my dogs lead. I saw the picture of the Blinded Sphynx that you had on your website and thought this could possibly be the same species? The picture was taken in Richland, NY, near the salmon river.
Ed Cogan

Hi Ed,
Your photos of the Big Poplar Sphinx, Pachysphinx modesta are gorgeous. These are way, way bigger than the blinded sphinx. Thanks again for contributing to our site.

Letter 58 – Big Poplar Sphinx


I’m hoping you can tell me what this is…I live in Central Wisconsin and it was right by my door in the early evening last night – scared me to death! It seemed to be about 4 inches wide by 3 inches long. Do I need to be afraid?
Any help is appreciated.
Thanks, Rebecca

Don’t be afraid Rebecca.
You have been visited by a Big Poplar Sphinx, Pachysphinx modesta. It is something of a special case, since it is the only member of its genus, though there is a second variety, Pachysphinx modesta occidentalis which lives in the far west and is lighter in color. The moth is a member of the Hawkmoth family, Sphingidae. The moth ranges over much of the U.S. and as far south as Northern Mexico. The caterpillars feed on poplar and willow.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for your quick response. I’ve never seen a moth that big! Without the wings spread I wasn’t sure what it was – I was just hoping it wasn’t some kind of bat. I was looking at the website – Moths of North America – and then selected Wisconsin and the Sphingidae family to see if I could find the Big Poplar Sphinx and it’s not there. I tried finding it before emailing you but didn’t know where to begin. Any idea why it’s not listed? How common is it to see one of these moths? I love your site and since I just moved to 3 acres in the country I will be coming back often. Thanks for all your help.

Letter 59 – Big Poplar Sphinx


I was wondering what this moth is – basking in the heat
Living in Southern California in 100 degree+ heat brings out the oddest creatures. This moth is was baskiing in the sun atop our patio cover but has now flown. As you can see it is a significant size. It is over 2" from head to toe and has 5" wingspan when resting. It is the size of a small sparrow.
Malcolm Carter
Menifee, CA

Hi Malcolm,
Both your moth and the Modest Sphinx are referred to commonly as the Big Poplar Sphinx. Some authors consider your moth, the western species, to be a subspecies of the other. Other authors consider them to be separate species. Here is as site that names your moth Pachysphinx occidentalis.

Letter 60 – Big Poplar Sphinx


could you tell us what this is?
we were having a great time at my sisters place in New Castle, Ontario Canada When this monster started hitting the kitchen window. Could you tell us what this thing is, we assume it is a moth of some kind, but the noise its wings made when it was flying sounded like something bigger than the 4 inch wing span that it has! We think the light from my flash blinded it, I was able to get about 10 pictures and it didn’t move.

Hi Lise,
We are happy to get your photo of a Big Poplar Sphinx since it shows the pretty pink underwings.

Letter 61 – Big Poplar Sphinx


What’s this moth?
Hello there,
I live in Bakersfield, CA. When I was out at a horse farm, resting on a juniper was this very large moth, of which I have never seen before! I am trying to look it up, and I’m guessing it is a type of Sphinx, but was wondering which
kind, and abit of info. on it. Sure would love the help – it was so lovely! Sincerely,

Hi Karen,
Your Sphinx, Pachysphinx occidentalis, is called the Big Poplar Sphinx by Bill Oehlke, but we have also seen it called the Western Poplar Sphinx in other publications including BugGuide. It is found in riparian areas where the caterpillar food plants, willow and poplar grow. The species ranges in the western U.S. and Canada into Baja California. According to BugGuide, adults fly ifrom May to September in the southern part of the range, so we are guessing the unseasonal rains in California in fall 2007 have resulted in an early emergance this year.

Letter 62 – Big Poplar Sphinx


Very Large Grey / Brown Moth
Wed, May 6, 2009 at 8:29 PM
I found this Moth flying outside my sliding glass window tonight. I had just gotten home at 9 pm and turned on the porch light and noticed this thing was trying to get in. I thought it was a small bird at the beginning but then saw it was a moth of some sort. It is in the mid 70’s right now and moist outside. I did spray fir bugs today outside the perimeter of my home. Please help, I hate bugs.
I would say this thing is a good 2.5 inches in length . Scarey.
Thanks Wendy
Santa Clarita, Ca

Big Poplar Sphinx
Big Poplar Sphinx

Hi Wendy,
How lucky you are to have seen a Big Poplar Sphinx, Pachysphinx occidentalis occidentalis, which is found in western North America from Canada to Baja California.  It truly is a magnificent moth.  You can read more about it on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Letter 63 – Big Poplar Sphinx Caterpillar


green caterpillar
We found this caterpillar in the yard today and would like to know what type it is. We live in Lafayette, Colorado, near Boulder. We’d like to try to keep this guy in a terrarium for a while, any suggestions?
Thanks, the Heggestads.

Dear Heggestads,
I was unsure exactly what your caterpillar was, but I thought I would try searching what I was assuming was the host plant, the poplar tree. I concluded that you have a Big Poplar Sphinx Caterpillar, Pachysphinx modesta. Here is a site entitled Caterpillars of the Eastern Forests, with a pretty good photo. I would recommend keeping several inches of damp, not wet, soil in the bottom of the terrarium for the caterpillar to dig into when pupation time occurs.

Letter 64 – Big Poplar Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject:  What is this chunky boy?
Geographic location of the bug:  Southern Utah, Kane County
Date: 08/22/2019
Time: 01:29 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi! I’ve have looked and looked but cannot definitively identify this caterpillar I found a couple days ago. It was in a cottonwood tree. My first thought was a tomato hornworm but the side spots and horn seem too different. Thoughts?
How you want your letter signed:  D. E.

Big Poplar Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear D.E.,
Though this is not a Tomato Hornworm, it is a different species of Hornworm from the family Sphingidae.  We believe it is the Big Poplar Sphinx caterpillar based on the species found Sphingidae of the Americas Utah page.  According to Sphingidae of the Americas:  “Larvae feed on cottonwood and poplar (
Populus) and willow (Salix).”

Letter 65 – Cerisy's Sphinx


Hawk -eyed Moth
Hi there,
My roomate captured this big moth that was hanging in our doorway and she put it on the picnic table to get these pictures. It is about 4 inches wide with the wings spread out and we think it’s a Hawk-eyed Moth. I have been searching on the Internet to find out where they are common, with not much luck. The little bits of info. I found is that these are common in Europe and parts of Asia! We are from Cloverdale, British Columbia, Canada (about 40 kilometres outside of Vancouver B.C.). We’ve never seen one of these before and wonder where it came from…. I think your website is only for people in the States, but I hope you can help us get a little more info. on this beautiful creature.
Thank-you kindly
Cloverdale, B.C.

Hi Allison,
Even though there is a border between our countries, insects tend to ignore it and we share many of the same species, including Cerisy’s Sphinx, Smerinthus cerisyi. It ranges from coast to coast in the northern US and Canada as well as south into the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Mountains. The caterpillar eats willow foilage and adults fly in May and June, so your specimen is right on time. Thanks for the beautiful photo.

Letter 66 – Cerisy's Sphinx


Can you please tell me what this moth is called? It seems to love my screen door. Thank you.

Hi Betty,
This beautiful Hawkmoth is Cerisy’s Sphinx.

Letter 67 – Cerisy's Sphinx


Can you tell me what kind of moth this is. I live in Western Washington and have never seen one like this before. It’s rather large compared to the ones we normally get.

This is a Cerisy’s Sphinx.

Letter 68 – Cerisy's Sphinx


Cerisy’s Sphinx?
Location: Vernon, BC
July 23, 2011 4:40 pm
I found this moth at a summer camp in Vernon, BC, Canada, at 10:00am, on July 23, 2011. It was on the steps of one of the buildings; it was a little sluggish but I managed to move it to a nearby stump so it wouldn’t be stepped on (which is where I took the picture). Is it a Cerisy’s Sphinx moth?
Signature: S. Lowen

Cerisy's Sphinx or One Eyed Sphinx

Dear S. Lowen,
We concur with your identification of Cerisy’s Sphinx,
Smerinthus cerisyi, which is also known as the One Eyed Sphinx.  You may read more on the species on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Letter 69 – Cerisy's Sphinx: Mating adults and Caterpillar


Sphinx Moths?
We found these two on our garage in San Pablo CA. My guess was either some species of Sphinx moth or Hawk moth. What do you guys think?

(12/22/2007) What species is this?
We found this Caterpillar in Our driveway. We live in San Pablo California which is part of the San Francisco Bay Area. Can You tell me what species it is?

Your mating adult moths and the caterpillar are the same species, Cerisy’s Sphinx, Smerinthus cerisyi, which is pictured on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Letter 70 – Cerisy's Sphinxes Mating


large mating moths
I found these two moths on the casing of my basement door. I thought they were leafs at first, once I realized they were moths I sure was shocked. They were on the jamb for at least 12 hours and left behind a good 50 eggs. Should I let them be or destroy them? Thanks for having such an informative web site,
Toby Rapp
Portland, Oregon

Hi Toby,
Thanks for the compliment. Your mating moths are Cerisy’s Sphinxes, Smerinthus cerisyi. They range from coast to coast in the northern US and Canada as well as south into the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Mountains. The caterpillar eats willow foilage and you might have a nearby tree. I’m sure your tree can sacrifice a few leaves for this beautiful moth.

Letter 71 – Cyclops Caterpillar is Abbott’s Sphinx


Subject:  Cyclops Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada
Date: 07/18/2019
Time: 10:32 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Saw a few of these guys and thought they were wild looking. I have never seen them before. Found them in mid summer.
How you want your letter signed:  RyeTye

Abbott’s Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear RyeTye,
We love your name “Cyclops Caterpillar.”  This is actually an Abbott’s Sphinx Caterpillar and we have gotten many letters regarding them this season.  The Abbott’s Sphinx is a moth in the family Sphingidae, and most caterpillars in the family have a caudal horn, giving rise to the common name Hornworm.  Some species like the Abbott’s Sphinx eventually shed the horn, leaving only a caudal bump that resembles an eye.

Letter 72 – Dead Carolina Sphinx with Braconid Pupae


Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Niagara Ontario area
Date: 09/04/2018
Time: 11:16 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This caterpillar was hanging on my tomato plant with all these white things on it.
Next morning it was on the ground with most of the white things off of it.
How you want your letter signed:  Pina

Dead Tobacco Hornworm with Braconid Pupae

Dear Pina,
This Tobacco Hornworm or Carolina Sphinx is quite dead, but while it was still alive, it was parasitized by a Braconid Wasp.  When the wasp larvae hatched, they feed on the non-vital tissues of the hornworm until they were ready to leave the host and pupate.  The white things are the Braconid pupae.

Letter 73 – Diurnal Sphinx


Not a Hummingbird, Right?
Location:  Alabama
November 2, 2015
Greetings, Daniel.
My brother in Alabama just sent me these two photos with the simple query, “Not a hummingbird, right?”
The photos were taken with his cell phone this past weekend.
I replied saying correct, they are commonly known as hummingbird moths.
At first I assumed it was a White-Lined Sphinx Moth but when I shared some of my photos with him, I realized his moth has no white stripes.
I still think it is a sphinx moth, I just can’t pin the ID down any more accurately than that.
Is this something you can assist me with?

I had open-heart surgery this summer, so missed a lot of garden and bug time.
Surgery went well and I’m recovering nicely, getting back into the swing of things.
I do have some wonderful photos to share with you for your website if you choose to do so.
Should be an enjoyable winter project for me to send those along …

Wanda J. Kothlow

Diurnal Sphinx
Diurnal Sphinx

Dear Wanda,
This is a diurnal or crepuscular Sphinx Moth in the family Sphingidae, and members of this family are easily confused with hummingbirds.  There is one species,
Hemaris thysbe, that also goes by the common name of Hummingbird Moth, but that is not your species.  This is most assuredly NOT a Whitelined Sphinx.  Though there is not much detail in your brother’s image, we will nonetheless attempt to research its species tomorrow.

P.S.  Have a swift recovery.  We have had several close friends and family members that survived open heart surged and returned to greatly improved lives.  Feel free to send us your interesting images, but please use our standard submission form that can be accessed by clicking the Ask What’s That Bug? link on our site.

Greetings, Daniel!
Any further luck trying to find a more specific identification for this Sphinx Moth?
I re-attached the photos so you would not need to search for them …

Hi again Wanda,
There is not enough detail in the images, because of the blurry representation of the rapidly moving wings.  Tell your brother to browse through the species listed as occurring in Alabama on the Sphingidae of the Americas site to see if he can find one that most resembles what he saw.

Letter 74 – Diurnal Sphinx


Subject:  Flying, attracted to my petunias
Geographic location of the bug:  Danbury, CT
Date: 07/20/2018
Time: 12:18 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I say this one flying around the petunias , landing and looked to be  feeding.  It’s about 1” long.  It’s wings are swept back like a fighter plane an triangular.
How you want your letter signed:  Charlie

Hemaris species

Dear Charlie,
In a very general way, and perhaps that is enough of an identification for you, this is a diurnal Sphinx Moth, meaning it flies during the day and it is a member of the Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth family Sphingiidae.  We can also tell you that it is in the genus
Hemaris, and that there are three species known to range in your area.  Our best guess is that this is the Hummingbird Clearwing, Hemaris thysbe.

Thanks a lot!  Yes, it is enough of an identification.  I appreciate the quick reply.

Letter 75 – Diurnal Sphinx Moth


Subject: Some sort of Bee?
Location: Wexford, PA
September 26, 2015 12:22 pm
I spotted this Bee- Hornet-Wasp? In my wife’s flowers the other day and I was wondering if you could tell me what it is?
Signature: Still amazed

Diurnal Sphinx Moth
Diurnal Sphinx Moth

Dear Still amazed,
This is a diurnal Sphinx Moth in the genus
Hemaris, but there is not enough detail in the image to accurately provide a species identification.

Letter 76 – Diurnal Sphinx Moth from Japan: Cephonodes hylas


Female Pellucid Hawk Moth
Location:Kusatsu, Japan
July 31, 2010 6:46 am
Regarding a Q&A that was posted on 14/10/2009 about a particular Hummingbird Moth from Japan (Cephonodes hylas). I got a decent picture of the female today in Kusatsu city near Lake Biwa just north of Kyoto, Japan. She must have been tuckered out from mating all month because she sat surprisingly still for sometimes being called a ”Hummingbird” moth. Here are two links to my photos.
Cheers, Brian.

Hummingbird Moth from Japan

Hi Brian,
Thanks for sending your beautiful image of a Japanese Hummingbird Moth.

Letter 77 – Diurnal Sphinx Moth from South Vietnam


Subject: Very strange asian bug
Location: South Vietnam
February 7, 2014 7:21 am
Hi! I live in Vietnam and found this flying around one day! It finally stopped and I got a good picture before it flew away. Nobody can figure out what it is; it looks like a bee crossed with a dragon fly to me but I assume that would be technically impossible 😉
Please tell me what it is! It’s been haunting me ever since!
Location: South vietnam, climate very hot and humid. The bug was seen in the playground of the school I work at and we are in the biggest city in Vietnam. River nearby.
Thanks a lot!
Signature: Sonia

Coffee Hawkmoth
Coffee Hawkmoth

Dear Sonia,
This is actually a diurnal or day flying moth in the family Sphingidae, the Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoths.  Day flyng species are sometimes confused for hummingbirds when in flight, so they are also called Hummingbird Moths.  Your individual is
Cephonodes hylas, which we found named the Coffee Hawk Moth on Butterfly House.  The Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic site has additional information.

Wow, thank you very much! I am very surprised that it is actually so common in Asia, and certainly hadn’t thought it had anything to do with a moth!
Thanks a lot for your quick response 🙂

Letter 78 – Early Instar Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: Catapillar ID
Location: Abilene, Texas
August 14, 2015 5:17 pm
I found this on my flame grape which is beside my tomatoes. I have always had tomato hornworms but this is very different. First year I’ve seen this one. Earlier in the week I believe I found the mature version sitting atop the fence. It was a very very pale green with little to no markings and its head was retracted into its body. Unfortunately I did not get a pic of it..
Signature: Charlotte Rhodes

Early Instar Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar
Early Instar Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Charlotte,
Like your Tomato Hornworms, this is also a Sphinx Moth Caterpillar in the family Sphingidae, but it is in the genus Eumorpha.  We believe, based on its similarity to this BugGuide image, that it is an early instar Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar.  We only have images of mature Achemon Sphinx Caterpillars on our site, and they do feed on grape.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae may be tan or green, with white diagonal elongated/segmented spiracular spots from A3 to A7. “Horn” on tail end is lost after the fourth instar. Pupates in burrows in the soil.”

Thank you so much.  I looked it up and the adult pic I saw did look like the one I had on the fence. Feel free to use the pic I sent on your site, I did take it. Glad I found your site, will be visiting it often.

Letter 79 – Early Instar Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: unknown bug
Location: marsh creek ca
August 23, 2015 12:17 pm
A friend found this bug/ catapilar in marsh creek california.
Signature: with a signature

Early Instar Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar
Early Instar Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar

We believe your Hornworm is an early instar Achemon Sphinx that has not yet shed its caudal horn, which is a typical part of the maturing of the species.  As they grow and age, Achemon Sphinx Caterpillars lose the horn, leaving a caudal bump as the only evidence a horn once existed.  See this BugGuide image for comparison.

Letter 80 – Ello Sphinx


Big Eyed Moth
Hi Bugman!
I have one more insect for you from the Dominican. I suspect that you might not be able to help me, but I’m rather intrigued by this moth… It’s eyes are so huge! The moth itself was rather large as well. Probably between 1 1⁄2 and 2 inches long. Even if you could give me any sort of direction on this insect, and then I could continue to try and identify it online. I really appreciate any info you could dig up.
Thanks Again!

Hi Yvonne,
This is a Sphinx Moth, but we are unsure of the species. Try checking Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Hello Bugman, Thank you for referring me to Bill Oehlke’s site. I emailed him this morning and he has informed me that my specimen is Erinnyis ello, a Sphingidae (hawkmoth). He included some links as well.
I appreciate your help in identifying this moth. Have a great day!
Yvonne Metcalfe
Barrie, Ontario

Letter 81 – Ello Sphinx


what’s the name of this moth?
I am constantly on your ‘what’s that bug’ website to identify the bugs I find in my yard. Thank you for making all the info available online. Attached is a picture of a moth I cannot find the name for, I am hoping you can help. The location I photographed this moth was East Orlando, Florida in the garden section of the Lowes store.

Hi Evelyn,
This is an Ello Sphinx, Erinnyis ello, and by the looks of the condition of the specimen, a very old moth.

Letter 82 – Ello Sphinx


sphinx moth?
Location:  Melbourne, FL
October 10, 2010 9:30 am
unfortunately i didn’t get to this beauty until after he was gone. i’m pretty sure it’s some type of sphinx moth, but i have seen one on your site.
Signature:  Johanna van Daalen

Ello Sphinx

Dear Johanna,
Your lovely Sphinx is an Ello Sphinx,
Erinnyis ello, which you can confirm by comparing your image to photos on Bill Oehlke’s Sphingidae of the Americas website.  Though we have numerous images of the caterpillars of the Ello Sphinx, we don’t have many images of the adult moth, but we did locate an image in our archives from 2007.

Letter 83 – Ello Sphinx Caterpillar


Grub on my pointsettia
Can you tell me what type of grub this is? He was the only one on a planted pointsettia plant in my garden in south Florida. I think I’ve narrowed it down to a sphynx moth or hawk moth of some sort, but haven’t been able to find a photo of him in any reference book to more accurately identify him. Thanks,

Hi Brenda,
This is an Ello Sphinx Caterpillar, Erinnyis ello. Poinsettia is just one of several plants the highly variable caterpillar feeds upon.

Letter 84 – Ello Sphinx Caterpillar


Ello Sphinx Caterpillar
Ello Sphinx Caterpillar

Subject: Caterpillar in San Diego
Location: San Diego
October 13, 2014 2:32 pm
I was out harvesting the last of our peppers when I heard something rustling through the leaves. I look for it expecting a lizard when I find this caterpillar moving across the ground at warp speed. I’ve seen a lot of caterpillars in our yard, but this is the first time I’ve seen one like this. I’m hoping someone can tell me what it is. Thxs!
Signature: Amit

Hi Amit,
This is an Ello Sphinx Caterpillar, and we confirmed the identification on the Sphingidae of the Americas website where it lists the food plants as:  “Larvae feed on papaya (Carica papaya) in the Caricaceae family and on Cnidoscolus angustidens and other plants in the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) including poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), guava (Psidium species) in the myrtle family (Myrtaceae) and on also saffron plum (Bumelia angustifolia/Bumelia celastrina) in the Sapotaceae family. : EUPHORBIACEAE. Manilkara bahamensis has also been reported as a host as have Willow Bustic (Bumelia salicifolia) and Painted Leaf (Poinsettia heterophylla).”
  We are guessing you may have a nearby papaya tree, or perhaps a guava.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for the identification!  Yes, we have a guava tree in our yard, which is loaded with fruit right now.
Great service your site provides!

Letter 85 – Ello Sphinx Caterpillar, we believe


Unknown caterpillar, St Thomas, Virgin Islands
February 27, 2010
Got a few photos of this guy/gal near a mangrove lagoon area on St Thomas, VI. I don’t remember the time of year. From what I recall it was on or near a potted allamamda, if that helps at all… I’ve only seen one of these in the more than two years I’ve lived here, and nobody seems to be familiar with them. The frangiapani caterpillar on the other hand, is in full force at the moment…
St Thomas, Virgin Islands, Caribbean

Ello Sphinx Caterpillar, probably

Hi Frank,
This is not the ideal angle of view to provide an identification, but we are nearly certain this is the caterpillar of an Ello Sphinx, Erinnyis ello which is pictured on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  We tried to access the Virgin Islands section of the site, which indicates the Sphingidae or Sphinx Moth species that are found in the nations of the Carribean, but that page was unavailable.  We did find the Ello Sphinx listed on the Dominican Republic page.  Most Sphinx Moth Caterpillars possess a caudal horn, owing to the common name Hornworm, but the Ello Sphinx Caterpillar loses its horn before reaching the final caterpillar instar.  We are copying Bill Oehlke on this response to see if he can confirm this identification, and also because he is compiling statistics on species distribution.  He may also be able to correct the accessibility of the Virgin Islands page of his website.

Bill Oehlke agrees
It is one of the Erinnyis species, and I also favour ello, but it could also be alope.
I have not yet compiled a list for Virgin Islands, but I suspect it would be same as what I have for Puerto Rico.
I will copy and paste Puerto Rico list and name it Virgin Islands, and will do some quick searches to see if I can find anything more scientific.
Bill Oehlke

Ello Sphinx Caterpillar

Wow, thanks to both you and Bill for the quick response.  Yes, the lack of horn back there had been one of the things throwing me off…  I’ll have to dig around through my photos and see if I can find the other shots I took that day.   There’s certainly no lack of interesting insects down here.  My favorite was the 9 inch walking stick bug that I found one day, because it was sitting right on my backpack that I set down for just a minute on a hike over on St John.  When I tried to move it so I could take my bag, it reared up its back end to mimic a scorpion pose.
Well, thanks again, have a good one…
Here’s a couple more shots.  None from the top unfortunately…

Ello Sphinx Caterpillar

Letter 86 – Elm Sphinx


Elm sphinx. very pretty moth in my opinion.
hey bugman,
I found this very pretty elm sphinx (identified by moth guy on bugguide) today and thought i would share a photo with you. this is the first one ive seen, and hopefully not the last. Are they pretty common? anyway, hope you enjoy the photo. I love your website.
Michael D.

Hi Michael,
We needed to go to your BugGuide posting to find out your Elm Sphinx, Ceratomia amyntor, was sighted in Tennessee. We rotated your photo to maximize its size on our website. We found a compilation website that has is sighting map with an extensive range.

Letter 87 – Waved Sphinx, not Elm Sphinx


Subject: Found a moth, found your site, now to find out what it is!
Location: Richmond, VA, USA
April 25, 2013 2:01 pm
Hi there!
I found this fella today in the 5th floor stairwell of a parking deck in downtown Richmond, VA. I thought he was fairly big (until seeing some of the very large bugs on this site!); maybe about 3” wide, average-sized lady-hand included for scale. He seemed like he might have had an injured leg, and a little difficulty crawling. I figured he probably would rather be outside than in an under-construction parking deck, so relocated him to a tree (hopefully he hasn’t gotten eaten by a bird.. but he seemed to have pretty decent camouflage.)
Any idea what sort of moth this is? Thanks!
Signature: kira

Elm Sphinx
Waved Sphinx

Dear Kira,
This is one of the Sphinx Moths or Hawkmoths in the family Sphingidae, and we believe it is an Elm Sphinx or Four Horned Sphinx,
Agrius amyntor, based on photos posted to the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Elm Sphinx
Waved Sphinx

Update:  January 27, 2018
We just received a comment from Stephen Kloiber that this is a Waved Sphinx, not an Elm Sphinx.  The Waved Sphinx is profiled on Sphingidae of the Americas.

Letter 88 – Ficus Sphinx


Matt’s moth
I’m a member of our local 4-H entomology club. Recently, while in Yucatan, Mexico, we captured this moth. Our leader says it’s probably in the hawk moth family but key out came to a dead-end there. He suggested we contact you to solve this mystery. Could you please help us identify this insect? (attaching didg. photo; windows asked if we wanted the photo made smaller so it would be sent quicker and be easier for our recipient to view. We chose to shrink it. Did we do the right thing?) Thank you,
Matt Watson & dad.
Yuma, AZ

Hi Matt and Dad,
Your moth is one of the Hawk or Sphinx Moths, Family Sphingidae. More specifically it is the Ficus Sphinx, Pachylia ficus. It is a large moth that is very common in Central and South America where it’s amazingly large and beautiful caterpillar feeds on the leaves of Ficus Trees. Check out the caterpillar on our caterpillar page. The species is occasionally found in Texas and Florida.

Letter 89 – Ficus Sphinx


huge moth in Miami
Dear What’s That Bug,
This huge moth — I think it’s a moth — flew into our kitchen in Miami tonight, and hung out quietly on the ceiling the whole evening. It measured almost 4 inches from wingtip to wingtip. Can you help me identify it?

Hi Tim,
The Ficus Sphinx is one of the Hawk Moths.

Letter 90 – Ficus Sphinx


sphinx moth
Hello Mr. Bugman
– love, love, love your site! Would love (apparently I’m loving a lot of things) to know the type of sphinx moth this is. Photo taken in Southeastern Florida. Thanks for your site and thanks for your time!

Hi Amy,
Thanks for your complimentary letter. This is a Ficus Sphinx, Pachylia ficus. You can get more information on Bill Oehlke’s excellent site.

Letter 91 – Ficus Sphinx


some sorta sphinx?
This guy was caught hanging out on our stucco patio wall. Lived in this South Florida location for several years and have never seen one until last night. After researching your amazing site, we’re thinking this moth belongs to the sphnix family. Either way, he sure was neat to look at. Who knew moths were so fascinating? (Lepidopterists excluded, of course )

Hi Diane,
Nice photo of a Ficus Sphinx, Pachylia ficus, a Southern species that feeds on various fig species. This is a large Sphinx Moth and we have gotten several caterpillar images in the past.

Letter 92 – Ficus Sphinx


This moth was on my front door-light last night and then found around the same area in the morning. I have never seen any moth this big before. Do you have any idea what it is? I forgot to mention that I took these pictures in Coral Gables, FL. on a cold winters morning. I don’t think the Moth liked the temperatures too much. As you can see from the one picture, it was about 3″ in length. Thanks,

Hi Don,
This is a Ficus Sphinx, Pachylia ficus. They are found in Florida, Texas and points south.

Letter 93 – Ficus Sphinx


large caterpillar
One of our staff found this large caterpillar this morning climbing the wall of the university in Corpus Christi, TX. It is about 5″ long and 3/4″ diameter. Any ideas?

Hi Woody,
It has taken me hours of web searching to finally identify your Ficus Sphinx, Pachylia ficus, which I finally found on this site. According to Bill Oehlke: “The Fig sphinx, Pachylia ficus (Wing span: 4 3/4 – 5 1/2 inches (12 – 14 cm)) flies from Uruguay north through Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies to Florida, southern Texas, and southern Arizona. It occasionally strays as far north as Indiana and Pennsylvania.” Additionally, there are several color morphs to the larvae, but one is exactly like your image. Thank you for your patience in this matter.

Letter 94 – Ficus Sphinx


Caterpillar Found In Nassau, Bahamas
Would love to know what kind of butterfly/moth this is and how long it will take to metamorph. It is 4 and a half inches in length.
P.S. Great Site!

Hi Jill,
This is a Ficus Sphinx, Pachylia ficus. It is one of several color variations of this caterpillar. The adult is a lovely brown Sphinx Moth. We are not sure exactly how long the transformation process requires, but probably approximately a month. Too bad you chopped the big guy’s head off.

Letter 95 – Ficus Sphinx


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.

Letter 96 – Ficus Sphinx Caterpillar


Look what the cat dragged in. I think she found it in our ficus hedge. It is a bit over 3″ long. Love your website, as do my 3 and 6 year olds. 🙂
Deerfield Beach, FL

Hi Cheryl,
Thanks for you nice letter. Our site is very popular with kids of all ages. This is a Ficus Sphinx Caterpillar. Yours sounds like a small specimen.

Letter 97 – Ficus Sphinx Caterpillar


Hello –
This little (?) critter was found on our doorstep and I was hoping you could give us some information on it. My grandson is studying insects in school and this would be a great addition. Thanking you in advance for your assistance.
Cz DiRosario

Hi Cz,
This is a Ficus Sphinx Caterpillar, Pachylia ficus. There are several color variations for the caterpillar, and this is the most striking. While it is admirable that you are assisting your grandson on his project, we hope you will not give him all the answers and allow him to participate in the research process. This would of course depend upon the extent to which he accesses the internet.

Letter 98 – Ficus Sphinx Caterpillar


What kind of caterpiller is this?
Location: Fort Myers, Florida
March 17, 2012 9:11 pm
Hello This was found in Fort Myers, Florida. not sure what it was on cause we found it after blowing off our patio area. I have been looking everywhere online with no sucess. Hope you may know 🙂 thanks!
Signature: Jennifer

Ficus Sphnx Caterpillar

Dear Jennifer,
This is the caterpillar of the Ficus Sphinx, a large moth.  It appears to be pre-pupal, meaning it probably left its food plant to search for a place to undergo metamorphosis, usually among leaf litter.  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas website:  “Females feed and lay eggs on fig leaves, especially Strangler Fig (Ficus aurea). Ficus carica, Ficus microcarpa, Ficus religiosa, Ficus pumila, Ficus gamelleira, Ficus prinoides, Ficus pumila and Artocarpus integrifolia are also listed as hosts.”

Letter 99 – Ficus Sphinx Caterpillar: A Melodrama of Authorship!!!!!


Do you know what this caterpillar is?
My preschool class found this caterpillar on our playgound near the base of an oak tree. I have tried to find out what it is, but I can not find a match for it. We would love to know any information you can provide us about our newest classmate, Greeny (The kids named it). Thank you
Kristina Ajoy and KinderCare Learning Center 1193 Preschool class.
Orlando, Florida

While trying to substantiate our belief that this is a Ficus Sphinx Caterpillar, Pachylia ficus, we were shocked and dismayed to find the exact photomontage posted to BugGuide in 2006 and credited to another photographer. Without trying to pass judgement, we find ourselves wondering who the author of these images is, the photographer with the BugGuide posting from 2006, or preschool teacher Kristina Ajoy of the KinderCare Learning Center 1193 Preschool class in 2008. It is surely a mystery, and we also can’t help but wonder if two people can take identical images two years apart. Even more paradoxical that they would both name the file with the identical name. Coincidence or Plagiarism? You decide.

HI, I saw the reply to the image I sent regarding the caterpillar my class and I found. I do not own a Digital camera so I did use that image for a visual referance for you. I had no intention of Plagiarism. It was a beautiful image the the caterpillar and I thought it was help you identify it. I am sorry if the use of the image has caused any problems, and I was not aware that I need to add referances to images sent in. I am truly sorry.
Kristina Ajoy

Thanks for the explanation Kristina,
If you borrowed the image from BugGuide, then we don’t understand why you needed an identification. Also, tryng to match a species that you saw to another photo is not a guarantee that the species will be correctly identified. We generally expect that photos are sent to us by the originators of the images, and we would normally not post an image that was taken from another website. After spending about 20 minutes researching your request, we felt it would have been a total waste of our time to not post the image. We needed to make very clear to our readership the ethical questions that posting a photo credited to another website and photographer presented to us.

Letter 100 – Ficus Sphinx Caterpillar: Green Morph


Caterpillar Identification
Dear Sir,
Can you identify the caterpillar in the attached photo ? The picture was taken in the Florida Everglades in the middle of January.As you can see,it is quite large.I would be grateful if you can help. Yours Sincerely,
steve Parrack.

Hi Steve,
This is a Ficus Sphinx Caterpillar. The caterpillar comes in several different color morphs, and this is one.

Letter 101 – Fig Sphinx


Any Idea what this moth is? Found it in Tulum Mexico

Hi William,
This is a Fig Sphinx Moth, Pachylia ficus. As its name implies, the larval food is the leaves of trees in the Ficus group, Figs.

Letter 102 – Fig Sphinx


Is this a sphinx moth?
Sat, Oct 11, 2008 at 5:19 PM
Found this beautiful moth resting underneath an orchid basket in my South Florida backyard. (Lake Worth) Its about 3-4 inches long.
It has a very long snout.
Lake Worth Florida

Fig Sphinx
Fig Sphinx

Hi Julie,
This is a Fig Sphinx, Pachylia ficus.  The larval food plants are in the genus Ficus, the figs, and the caterpillar has at least four distinct color morphs.

Letter 103 – Fig Sphinx


Really bug Moth?
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
October 3, 2011 1:50 pm
Stepped outside this afternoon and this guy was sitting on the porch. It looks like a moth to me but is the size of a hummingbird. I’ve seen some strange bugs since moving here and this one is top of the list.
Signature: VG

Fig Sphinx

Dear VG,
Judging by the wear and tear on the wings and the missing scales, this Fig Sphinx is not a young individual. You can see the Sphingidae of the Americas for some wonderful information on the Fig Sphinx.  In flight, Sphinx Moths are often mistaken for hummingbirds.

Letter 104 – Fig Sphinx


Subject: Hidden Beauty
Location: Miami Lakes, FL
January 5, 2016 4:24 pm
Found this amazing bug in my front yard while doing the yard work. I mistook it for some leaves. I have never seen such a bug. I have trolled this sight yet haven’t found a match. What really struck me about this bug was the lack of antenna ‘s and those large black eyes. Please help me identify.
Signature: Local bug lover

Ficus Sphinx
Fig Sphinx

Dear Local bug lover,
Your images of a Fig Sphinx,
Pachylia ficus, are absolutely stunning and they really nicely illustrate how well camouflaged the moth can be with fallen leaves.  It has been several years since we posted a new image of an adult Ficus Sphinx on our site, though we have many recent caterpillar images.  The Ficus Sphinx is reported from Texas and Florida, and the caterpillars feed on the leaves of Ficus or fig trees.  More information on the Fig Sphinx can be found on the Sphingidae of the Americas site.

Ficus Sphinx
Fig Sphinx

Letter 105 – Fig Sphinx


Subject: Sphinx Moth
Location: Fort Myers, FL
February 22, 2016 7:47 am
Found this moth at 9:30AM on February 22, 2016. Believe it is a sphinx moth per posts. Wanted to share for your records.
Signature: JP

Fig Sphinx
Fig Sphinx

Dear JP,
Your Sphinx Moth is a Fig Sphinx,
Pachylia ficus.  According to BugGuide, there are:  “Several flights throughout the year in the tropics, peninsular Florida, and South Texas.”

Letter 106 – Fig Sphinx


Subject: Sphinx moth -what species?
Location: Palmetto Bay, FL
January 5, 2017 7:08 pm
I took this photo this afternoon in the breezeway of my condo building . My hands are quite large, so the size of the moth was about 3-5 inches. Can you tell me more about this species?
Signature: Wandering biologist

Fig Sphinx

Dear Wandering biologist,
You Sphinx Moth is a Fig Sphinx,
Pachylia ficus, and according to BugGuide:  “Several flights throughout the year in the tropics, peninsular Florida, and South Texas.”  The food, according to BugGuide, is:  “Caterpillar hosts: Various species of fig (Ficus). … Caterpillar also reported on Mango.

Fig Sphinx

Letter 107 – Fig Sphinx Caterpillar


Identification request
Location: Guatemala (Jocotenango, Sacatepéquez)
September 23, 2011 2:13 pm
Dear Mr Bugman:
I am currently volunteering in a combined elemntary & secondary school in Guatemala. Some of our fifth graders found this beauty in the garden. They’d love to turn it into a science project to see it become a butterfly, but I have my doubts that it will accept a jar as proper place for pupation. But I’m getting ahead of myself, since we don’t even know what it is yet.
Thanks for your help & keep up the great work!
Signature: Regards, Reinhard Prosch

Fig Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Reinhard,
Your caterpillar is that of a Fig Sphinx,
Pachylia ficus.  The Fig Sphinx is a large Hawkmoth, not a butterfly.  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas website:  “Larvae pupate in cocoons spun amongst leaf litter.”

Letter 108 – Ello Sphinx Caterpillar, NOT Fig Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: Huge Neon Green Caterpillar
Location: Palm Beach Gardens, FL
January 7, 2013 2:41 pm
I just found this bug in the middle of our office. We have no idea what it is. It is huge and vibrant green. It is probably 3-4” (not stretched out).
Any help would be much appreciated.
Thank you.
Signature: David

Ello Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi David,
Do you have a potted
Ficus plant in your office?  This is a Fig Sphinx Caterpillar, Pachylia ficus, and it is a highly variable caterpillar.  We frequently get photos of green and orange Fig Sphinx Caterpillars and there is also a brown form.  We suspect this individual has been feeding on a potted Ficus plant in your office and has gone unnoticed until it got ready to pupate, at which time it left the plant and sought a suitable location for pupation.  If the plant is a new plant, the caterpillar might have arrived on the plant from the nursery.  If the plant has been in your office for some time, the female moth may have gained entry through a window and laid eggs.  For more information on the Fig Sphinx, go to the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Correction:  Ello Sphinx Caterpillar, not Fig Sphinx Caterpillar
Thanks to a comment from Ryan which we now agree with, we believe this is actually an Ello Sphinx Caterpillar,
Erinnyis ello, that might have arrived on a poinsettia.  Sphingidae of the Americas has some nice photos of Ello Sphinx Caterpillars.  When trying to identify a caterpillar, it is always helpful to know the food plant.

Yup.  That’s it.  We had poinsettias in the office for the last month.  Thanks.

Letter 109 – Hind End of a Fig Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: Moth caterpillar
Location: Ocean Ridge, FL
January 27, 2014 1:58 pm
Hello bugman! We found this caterpillar in a tree in our backyard this weekend. We live in Ocean Ridge, FL (Palm Beach county, about 300 steps from the ocean). We have seen our fair share of caterpillars and moths before (mostly sphinx) but haven’t seen this species before. Any idea what it might be? The part of the caterpillar you can see is about the size of my thumb.
Signature: Gretchen

Fig Sphinx Caterpillar
Fig Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Gretchen,
Even though your photo only shows the tail end of this Hornworm disappearing behind a branch, it is unmistakably the hind end of a Fig Sphinx Caterpillar,
 Pachylia ficus.  The caterpillar feeds on the leaves of fig trees and other trees in the genus Ficus.  The adult Fig Sphinx is an impressive moth.

Letter 110 – Pachylia syces Sphinx: caterpillar and adult


Pachylia Scyses scyses?? Or Fig Sphinx?
I love your site as you must realize because I keep sending you things to identify. I found what looked like a ficus sphinx on your site, but the caterpillar is totally different from those shown for this moth. The caterpillar and the moth are shown in these two photos. The caterpillar ate ficus leaves. It began making a pupa shortly after I took photos of it and the moth that emerged is the one shown here. I live in Costa Rica.
Mary Thorman

Hi Mary,
You have a Ficus Sphinx, Pachylia ficus. The caterpillars have several different color variations. Thank you for sending in this awesome striped variation. To add to the confusion, there are subspecies and regional variations. Caterpillars are notoriously difficult to identify which is why the host plant is so helpful.

Correction:  January 8, 2012
While researching a new submission, we stumbled upon this old posting and we realized that Mary was in fact correct.  This is the caterpillar and adult of
Pachylia syces, a different species in the same genus as the Fig Sphinx.  Comparing Mary’s images to those on the Sphingidae of the Americas reveals our original error.

Letter 111 – Fig Sphinx Caterpillar from Belize


Subject: Unknown Caterpillar
Location: Corozal, Belize, Central America 18° 22’29.81″W 88° 23′ 59.71″W
January 9, 2016 3:25 pm
Hi Bugman,
The other day, we were working under our parking palapa, and upon moving a tarp, out popped this fellow.
He’s about 3/4″ to 1″ in diameter, and when extended, abut 6″ to 7″ long.
We’ve lived here for nine years and have never seen one like him, or even close.
If you could identify him for us that would be super.
Thank you.
Signature: David Rider

Fig Sphinx Caterpillar
Fig Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear David,
Your submission is quite timely, because we just posted an image of an adult Fig Sphinx.  Your Fig Sphinx Caterpillar represents one color variation for this variable species, and we are surmising there is a fig tree in the genus
Ficus somewhere near your parking palapa.

Fig Sphinx Caterpillar
Fig Sphinx Caterpillar

Letter 112 – Fig Sphinx Caterpillar from Dominican Republic


Subject: Pretty Worm
Location: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
August 29, 2016 5:46 am
I saw this huhe worm in the park in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo Dominican Republic. It was about the length of my large hand and a bout as fat as my fat thumb. It also had a decent weight to it. I moved t under a tree so it would be some what safe. Do you know what it is?
Signature: Dominican Gringa

Fig Sphinx Caterpillar
Fig Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Dominican Gringa,
This impressive caterpillar is a Fig Sphinx Caterpillar,
Pachylia ficus , a species that can be quite variable in coloration.  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas “Larvae pupate in cocoons spun amongst leaf litter” and finding it on the ground indicates it is probably seeking an appropriate location to begin metamorphosis.

Letter 113 – Fig Sphinx Caterpillar from Ecuador


Location: Rio Napr Ecuador
May 6, 2011 6:53 pm
I have a photo of a caterpillar taken in the rio nape region of ecuador and would like to no the species please
Many thanks
Signature: Mark Whittaker

Fig Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Mark,
This gargantuan caterpillar is a Fig Sphinx Caterpillar,
Pachylia ficus, and it ranges from the southern portions of the U.S. into South America.  The color pattern is quite distinctive, but the species is quite variable and there are also brown and green morphs which you may see in our archives as well as on the wonderful Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Letter 114 – Fig Sphinx found at sea


Subject:  Cruise ship moth
Geographic location of the bug:  At sea near Cozumel, Mexico
Date: 01/13/2018
Time: 10:34 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I was on a week long cruise that left Cape Canaveral, Florida traveling to Haiti, Jamaica, and Cozumel. It was our last day at sea and we were heading back towards Florida. We found this moth clinging to the top deck of the ship because it was a very windy day. We coaxed it into a cup and transported it to a lower level open atrium that had many live plants. We figured it could fly away when we got to port or stay and go on another vacation. What type of moth is this?  Was it originally from Florida taking a holiday or a new passenger from one of our destinations?
How you want your letter signed:  Brian Norton

Fig Sphinx

Dear Brian,
This is a Fig Sphinx, and it might have stowed away in Florida, or come aboard in Mexico or the Caribbean, or even because Sphinx Moths are such strong fliers, been picked up at sea.  According to Sphingidae of the Americas, the Fig Sphinx is found in South America to Argentina as well as ” through Central America: Panama to Mexico: Quintana Roo (BT) probalby [sic] throughout Mexico, and the West Indies to Florida, southern Texas, and southern Arizona.  It occasionally strays as far north as Indiana and Pennsylvania.”


Fig Sphinx

Letter 115 – Four Horned Sphinx


Caterpillar ID
Found this guy on our walk. He is about 4″ long or so and husky. Looks like a curled up green leaf. Has double horns near his head and a spike at the tail. He is very strong. Let him go in the garden. Hope it wasn’t a mistake. He went on his way.
Thanks in advance for any help.

Hi Kathy,
It looks like you have a Four-horned Sphinx also known as the Elm Sphinx (Ceratomia amyntor). Your photo doesn’t really show the horns as pronounced as in other photos we have seen. It eats leaves from elms and basswoods, and is also reported from birches and cherries.

Letter 116 – Four Horned Sphinx


Help identifying catepillar
We found a caterpillar that we hope we can “rehabilitate.” It is approximately 2 1/2 inches long, green and purplish brown in color with a “horn” near its tail end. I’ve attached a couple of pics. Any help you can give me on identification and what I can do to bring it back to 100% would be great.
I’ve also attached a picture or two of what we thought was a hummingbird. After doing some research it seems to be a hummingbird moth. Can you please verify?
Thank you.
Laura Stoy
Chesapeake, Virginia

Hi Laura,
Your caterpillar is a Four Horned Sphinx or Elm Sphinx, Ceratomia amyntor. The caterpillar has both a green and dark form. I am not sure what the trauma is that requires rehabilitation, but you can try feeding it elm, birch, basswood or cherry leaves. There is more information on Bill Oelhke’s site. Your moth is also a Sphinx Moth or Hawk Moth or Hummingbird Moth, probably the Tobacco Sphinx, Manduca sexta.

Letter 117 – Four Horned Sphinx


never seen this before
Location: Muskegon, MI
July 30, 2011 5:39 pm
Hi, we found this caterpillar outside our house and i was wondering what it is. I have never seen a caterpillar this large before, it was about 3in. long. sorry i couldn’t get a very good photo of it. i’m excited to find out what it is.
Signature: Thanks, Katherine

Four Horned Sphinx

Hi Katherine,
This is the caterpillar of the Four Horned Sphinx or Elm Sphinx.  You can see some nice photos that show the four horns on the head by viewing the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  We are amused that the common name Four Horned Sphinx ignores the prominent caudal horn, and perhaps a more fitting name would be Five Horned Sphinx.

Letter 118 – Four Horned Sphinx


Any idea what this is?
Location: Sioux City, IA
July 29, 2011 9:51 am
Wondering if you have any idea what this caterpillar/worm is?
Signature: Maureen

Four Horned Sphinx

Hi Maureen,
This is a Four Horned Sphinx or Elm Sphinx.  We just posted a photo of a Four Horned Sphinx from Michigan that came a day later than your submission, and out of guilt for having so many backlogged identification requests, we are posting your image as well.

Thank you for quick response. I was amazed to find your website as I was trying to find out what that interesting caterpillar was. I have never seen anything like it before. Thanks again!

Letter 119 – Four Horned Sphinx


Giant Caterpillar or Grub???
July 19, 2013
Location:  Missouri
I was outside this morning around 5:30 & the sun not quite up…I look down & leaves are moving under a bush …I look closer & see the LARGEST caterpillar or grub I’ve EVER seen!  I thought about catching it ….but only kept it hostage long enough to snap a few pics & then put it back under the bush to be on its way lol.
It was about 3 1/2 to 4 inches long when extended …fleshy colored & kind of green underneath …I live in S.W Missouri & have NEVER seen one.
Hopefully you can help 🙂

Four Horned Sphinx
Four Horned Sphinx

Hi Stacie,
We wish we knew what day you originally sent this image of a Four Horned Sphinx or Elm Sphinx,
Ceratomia amyntor, which you may read more about on The Sphingidae of the Americas.

My original message …I sent the same morning I took the picture …which was July 19th of this year …thanks SOOOO MUCH for solving my mystery 🙂

Letter 120 – Four Horned Sphinx


Subject: What type of catipillar?
Location: Burlington county New Jersey
August 7, 2014 11:01 am
I lived in NJ all my life and have never seen this type of caterpillar. Today I found 3 of them in my backyard. The largest one I found floating in my pool. Each one I found was dead. What type are they? Are there any concerns I should have as I have children and a dog running around in the yard. I don’t have any gardens.
Signature: Monica

Four Horned Sphinx
Four Horned Sphinx

Dear Monica,
This is a Four Horned Sphinx or Elm Sphinx,
Ceratomia amyntor, the caterpillar of a moth in the family Sphingidae.  The common name refers to the four horns behind the head of the caterpillar, and it ignores the caudal horn which is a trait shared with most caterpillars in the family.  We are very curious what might have cause the demise of three individuals in such a short period of time.  The Four Horned Sphinx is a harmless species, despite its somewhat fearsome appearance.  Perhaps you have a nearby elm tree that is serving as food for the Elm Sphinx as it is also called.  In addition to elm, according to the Sphingidae of the Amercias site, the caterpillars feed on “birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) and cherry (Prunus).”  Living Four Horned Sphinx caterpillars are much more attractive than dead ones, and as you can see from this image, the Four Horned Sphinx is very well camouflaged while feeding.

Letter 121 – Four Horned Sphinx Caterpillar


What is this
I found this at the Road America race track in Elkhart WI. It is about three inches long.
Thank you for your help.
Paul Gehrman

Hi Paul,
This is a Four Horned Sphinx Caterpillar, Ceratomia amyntor. It is also known as the Elm Sphinx since the caterpillar has a preference for elm tree leaves. They also eat birch, basswood and cherry.

Letter 122 – Four Horned Sphinx Caterpillar


Unknown caterpillar
September 3, 2009
Hi, I found this really weird looking caterpillar in my birch tree. I have never seen anything like it in my life. It is green with 2 sets of horns toward the front of its head and has 1 horn at the end of its body. It blends in with the leaves and has what appears to be a leafs vein running up it’s back. I searched for something like this online and the closest thing I found was the lime hawk moth caterpillar. Is that what this is?

Four Horned Sphinx Caterpillar
Four Horned Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Denise-MA,
According to Bill Oehlke’s wonderful website, the Four Horned Sphinx, Ceratomia amyntor, is also called the Elm Sphinx, and its food plants include:  “Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) and cherry (Prunus).  There are chocolate-brown to orangey-brown, sometimes with a pinkish tint, and green forms of the larvae. The common names are derived from foodplants (Elm Sphinx) and the structure (Four-horned Sphinx) of the larva.
”  We are impressed that you were able to locate this well camouflaged Four Horned Sphinx Caterpillar that matches the leaves of the birch tree so well.  We are copying Bill Oehlke on this response so he can add your sighting to the comprehensive data he is compiling on species distribution.

Well Camouflaged Four Horned Sphinx Caterpillar
Well Camouflaged Four Horned Sphinx Caterpillar

Letter 123 – Four Horned Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: huge caterpillar
Location: Racine, WI
August 6, 2012 3:49 pm
We found a huge caterpillar in southeastern Wisconsin. It was walking through the grass in a park. Its head is light green but its body is a reddish purple color. it has a white stripe going down its back with little slanted lines coming off of it. it has a tail and two sets of spikes on its body close to its head. What kind of caterpillar is it?
Signature: Katy

Four Horned Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Katy,
This is the caterpillar of the Elm Sphinx or Four Horned Sphinx.  Its pink coloration indicates that it is pre-pupal, meaning it has left its food source, possibly a nearby elm tree, though the caterpillars are also known to feed upon birch, basswood, black locust and cherry according to the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  It should soon metamorphose into a pupa without spinning a cocoon.

Letter 124 – Four Horned Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject:  Luna moth and sphinx catepillar
Geographic location of the bug:  North texas
Date: 09/12/2017
Time: 04:46 PM EDT
My son and I just found these two less than a foot away from each other. I think we have the names right but I’m not sure.
How you want your letter signed:  Breanna Fouse

Four Horned Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Breanna,
Both of your identifications are correct, and we can even provide you with a species for the Sphinx Caterpillar.  Though the common name ignores the caudal horn present in so many Sphinx Caterpillars, the Four Horned Sphinx is also called the Elm Sphinx.  The leaves in your image appear to be elm leaves.

Letter 125 – Four Horned Sphinx: Green Morph


very big caterpillar
We found this bug in our back yard in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Can you tell us what it is? Will it be a moth? It was the biggest caterpillar we had ever seen!! It was at least 3 inches long and quite sturdy. Thanks,
Melanie Stevenson

Hi Melanie,
This is a Four Horned Sphinx or Elm Sphinx caterpillar, Ceratomia amyntor. There is a brown form which we recently posted as well as the green form you have sent in.

Letter 126 – Four Horned Sphinx or Elm Sphinx


So many moths…
Hello Daniel,
Every morning this Spring, and Summer so far, the wall under the safety light has been full of many types of bugs.  From large horse flies to millipedes to beetles and grasshoppers, the variety has been unending.  The most diverse specimens have been the moths.  Here are a few of the most elegantly dressed that I have been unable to identify.  They are quite extraordinary, and I’d love to learn more about them.  The photos were taken between 5/16 and 6/25.  I appreciate any help you may be able to send my way.
Thank you so much,
R.G. Marion
Cosby, TN

Four Horned Sphinx

Hi R.G.,
Small brown moths tend to look alike to us, and we may struggle for hours and not identify the many photos you have sent in, but there is one that we plan to attempt to identify.  Meanwhile, your final photo is of a Four Horned Sphinx or Elm Sphinx, Ceratomia amyntor, which we quickly identified on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  It is called the Four Horned Sphinx because of the caterpillar.

Letter 127 – Freshly Eclosed Elm Sphinx


Subject: Moth?
Location: Germantown MD
June 10, 2014 5:56 am
I found this bug on a potted plant while relocating our belongings. Upon first glance I thought that it was a dead leaf on the plant, but upon closer examination, I found otherwise. When I attempted to have it crawl onto my finger, it immediately began to expel a white substance from it rear end. This was not a small set of droplets, but powerful stream.
Is this just a moth without formed wings?
Signature: Steve

Freshly Eclosed Sphinx Moth
Freshly Eclosed Elm Sphinx Moth

Dear Steve,
This is a freshly eclosed Sphinx Moth, and when butterflies or moths emerge from the pupal state, their wings are wet and shriveled.  They eventually fill with hemolymph, the insect blood, and harden.  Sometimes, for various reasons including injury, the wings never fully expand.  We cannot say for certain, but it most closely resembles and Elm Sphinx,
Ceratomia amyntor, to us.  Compare your image to the ones of fully expanded wings posted on the Sphingidae of the Americas site.  We will try to check with Bill Oehlke to see if he can verify that identification.

Bill Oehlke Confirms
Hi Daniel,
Yes, Ceratomia amyntor, the Elm Sphinx

Letter 128 – Gallium Sphinx Caterpillar


Green morph of Hyles gallii?
A Fireweed plant (Epilobium angustifolium) volunteered to grow in my backyard last year. Since it is both one of my favourite native plants and the bees love it, I let it be. This year there is a small stand of them providing some urban habitat for a variety of creatures; I’ve got: bees (at least 5 species), ants, beetles, wasps, flies, moths, and one 6-7cm long hornworm which I have not been able to find an identical photo of on the web. I am hoping you can help identify it. After looking at all 14 pages of caterpillar pictures, following your links, and trying out some of the ID keys at other sites–I am thinking it is a late instar of a green variation of the Bedstraw Hawk moth/Gallium Sphinx (Hyles gallii) larvae. I have attached top and side views of the caterpillar at rest, and a couple of it feeding on a flower bud (appears to be its favourite food) which have better views of the two types of legs. I haven’t been able to get good, clear, closeup photos of the head and tail views, yet. Sending you over 16M of photos didn’t seem like a good idea so I scaled them down to 240×320 pixels, stripped out the EXIF data, and saved them `for the web’ on the offhand chance one is interesting enough to put up on your site. Full resolution images are available if necessary.
Edmonton, Alberta

Hi Bruce,
Thanks for sending what we also believe is a Gallium Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles gallii. The small files enabled us to determine which of your large files to download. We are going to copy Bill Oehlke on this response to see if he agrees and also so he can add this information to his comprehensive species distribution data.

Letter 129 – Gallium Sphinx Caterpillar from Alaska


Subject: What type of big is this?
Location: Tox, Ak
August 11, 2017 11:16 pm
We stayed at a camp in Tok, Alaska and while walking back came across this weird umm thing/bug can not figure out what it is.
Signature: Adrianna Miller

Gallium Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Adrianna,
This is a Hornworm, the caterpillar of a Sphinx Moth in the family Sphingidae.  According to Sphingidae of the Americas, there are not many species found in Alaska, and we are quite certain because of the black color and red horn, that this is the Caterpillar of a Gallium Sphinx,
Hyles gallii.  More information on the species, also called the Bedstraw Hawkmoth, can be found on Sphingidae of the Americas. 

Thank you very much, the only thing we couldn’t see was the spots and I think that was because it was so dusty.

Also when we touched it with a stick it curled up and stuck the horn out, is that what it does?
Adrianna T. Miller
If they feel threatened, many Caterpillars will curl up.

Letter 130 – Gaudy Sphinx


Green Moth in Ecuador
My husband & I really enjoyed looking at your site! We are currently in Quito, Ecuador and discovered this large moth that looked like a green leaf. Upon examining it (while it was sitting on some ivy) it crawled into my hand! To my surprise, it stayed on my hand long enough for us to get quite a few pictures. We think it may be some sort of Sphinx Moth, but did not see it on your site. Can you help us identify it?
Thanks so much!!

Hi Miranda,
We have gotten photos of the Gaudy Sphinx, Eumorpha labruscae, from Florida and it ranges through the Caribbean and Central America to Argentina.

Letter 131 – Gaudy Sphinx


Green Moth
Thanks so much for your site and all the enjoyment I’ve received from it! This is a large moth (sphinx?) I discovered early Halloween morning. It’s a pretty good size, slightly more than 2 inches in length. I’ve seen some moths of a similar shape that were brown, but this is the first green one.
Joe Fernandez
Tampa, FL

Hi Joe,
Your side view of this Gaudy Sphinx is an especially welcomed addition to our archives.

Letter 132 – Gaudy Sphinx


I have a picture of a large green moth that I made. The location is in Black Hammock, an area just north of Oviedo, Florida on the south shore of Lake Jessup. It is a damp, wet hammock.
Michael Thompson

Hi Michael,
We are happy your wonderful photo shows the brightly colored hind wings of the Gaudy Sphinx.

Letter 133 – Gaudy Sphinx


can you identify this bug?
I know you’re busy, but I found this attached to my house and found it very unusual and very frightening, due to it’s very large size. Thanks,
Ellen Miller
Delray Beach, FL

Hi Ellen,
Your beautiful moth is a Gaudy Sphinx.

Letter 134 – Gaudy Sphinx


Is this some type of Sphinx Moth?
Dear “What That Bug?”;
I found your link on the Web and I’m it’s still active. I’m trying to identify a moth I found on my lanai this morning (photo attached). It is up too near the ceiling for me to actually measure it, but it looks to be at least 5 inches long. I’m wondering if it might be some type of Sphinx moth. Can you tell me what it is? Thanks and regards,
Carolyn Plank
Vero Beach , FL

Hi Carol,
Your are correct. Your sphinx is a Gaudy Sphinx, a species found mainly in Florida and occasionally Texas in the U.S. but quite common in the Caribbean.

Letter 135 – Gaudy Sphinx


not sure
I found this trapped inside my pool enclosure last night – at first I thought it was a Vega Sphinx Moth, but in looking at this site ( http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species?l=3461 ) the under part of the wings don’t match.
Johanna van Daalen
Melbourne, FL

Hi Johanna,
Your beautiful moth is a Guady Sphinx. Do you always get a manicure before handling insects?

I try to keep my nails looking their best, you never know when a camera or a gaudy moth is going to be around! Thank you so much, love your website!

Hi again Johanna,
Here at What’s That Bug? we both understand the importance of being camera ready as well. You are our kind of gal: not afraid to handle insects and looking good in the process.

ha! i saw your comment on the website about not being afraid to handle bugs – i work with raccoons and otters, bugs are nothing!!! (unless that bug’s a SPIDER!!!)

Letter 136 – Gaudy Sphinx


I think its a hawkmoth
Location: rice, texas
January 4, 2011 2:08 pm
All the hawkmoths i’ve seen dont appear to have wings like this though; so i’m not completely sure what it is. Please get back to me.
Signature: Sarah

Gaudy Sphinx

Hi Sarah,
The individual in your photograph is indeed a Hawkmoth known as the Gaudy Sphinx.  It is unlikely to confuse this beauty with any other North American species since the green coloration is so vivid.  The underwings are also beautifully colored and marked.

Letter 137 – Gaudy Sphinx


green moth
Hello, I am in need of help with identification for this sphinx moth. I have found some green moths that may be possible (Vega, Virginia Creeper, Satellite) and some with the blue on underwings (Cerisy, Twin-spotted, Eyed Hawk) but none with both. How much do the patterns or colors vary with these moth species? I really enjoy searching your site and hope you will be able to help.
Thanks, Karen
West Palm Beach, FL

Hi Karen,
Long ago we got a photo of a Gaudy Sphinx adult and we recently posted a photo of its snakelike caterpillar. The Gaudy Sphinx, Eumorpha labruscae, is tropical and subtropical, and is found in the southern states, expecially Florida. Sometimes it strays as far north as Pennsylvania. Here is more information on this government page. Your battered but still beautiful Gaudy Sphinx is a welcome addition to our site.

Letter 138 – Gaudy Sphinx


Large moth in South Florida
My husband spotted this moth during the day in our screen room, We live in the Tampa, Florida area and are wondeirng what kind of moth this is. I’ve looked at the moth sections on your page and cannot find anything similar. I’ve also done several searches using Goolge but haven’t had any luck so far. It seems to have a similar body shape to the Sphinx moths, but it’s hard for me to tell, as most pictures I find on the web are of moths with their wings extended and not folded up. Any help you can give in identifying this would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Carlene,
Your letter has left us deeply disturbed. We have searched high and low on our site to locate a gorgeous photo we once received of a Gaudy Sphinx, Eumorpha labruscae. That photo showed the beautiful blue underwings. Now, thanks to you, the species is once again represented on our site, though we can’t imagine how we lost the previous image. Here is a link with additional information.

Letter 139 – Gaudy Sphinx


What kind of moth is this?
Hello Bugman,
we are a Dutch couple and since February living in the north of the Dominican Republic. That is where we saw this moth, at least we think it is a moth. We have been searching the internet for we really want to know what kind of moth this is. Can you help us out here and is this a kind you see often? Thanks in advance for you help. Best regards,
Harm & Yvonne Jager

Hi Harm and Yvonne,
This is a Guady Sphinx, Eumorpha labruscae. It is occasionally found in the U.S., generally in Florida, but it is primarily a tropical species.

Letter 140 – Gaudy Sphinx


Gaudy Sphinx Moth from Miami, Florida
I love your site and now go to it weekly to see god’s creatures. Every day I am more and more amazed at the variety that there is in nature. I now have something to offer your site. I saw this moth outside my front porch in Miami, Florida and was amazed that I had never seen one like that before. It was beautiful and my 14 month old daughter kept pointing at it and calling it a bird. I found the moth on your site and found it to be a Gaudy Sphinx moth that is common in Cuba and up the Florida. I thought you might like another picture to add to your site’s collection.

Hi Cesar,
We are always excited to get a new photo of the Gaudy Sphinx, Eumorpha labruscae, and we are thrilled to post it. We have often wondered at the origin of the common name “Gaudy” and are guessing it refers to the outrageously flashy coloration of the underwings, which can be seen on Bill Oehlke’s website. Though the origin of the word “gaudy” is not connected to him, we like the tonal association with Antoni Gaudi, the visionary Spanish architect.

Letter 141 – Gaudy Sphinx


3-11-08 Hugh Moth
This creature flew onto our friends chair cushion and stayed all night until sunrise the next morning-approx 3" wide x 2" long or the center of a large mans palm. beautiful bight green. thanks,
Rockledge, Florida

Hi Kristi,
Your beautiful moth is a Gaudy Sphinx.

Letter 142 – Gaudy Sphinx


Big moth in Florida
Just sent the pics of the moth in Florida and just wanted to introduce myself and say hello. I do love bugs and considering I have run my own lawn service here in Florida for the last 17 years, I do have a backlog of bug pics. I’ll pace myself. Glad your site is here. I always take the pics but alot of them just remain a mystery. Always have a critter keeper in the truck and have brought home many. Favorite to date was a bark mantis. It had personality. Just saying hello. Found this on my front porch. We have some visiting clear wing hummingbird moths and that’s what I thought it was at first. But it’s not. What is it? My best guess would be the Virginia Creeper Sphinx but not exactly. It was calm for a bit then raised it’s wings and stretched them for a bit then flew away. Video of that attached too. Fantastic moth. Please let me know what it is.
Mike Suchora
Orlando, FL

Hi Mike,
Your moth is a Gaudy Sphinx, Eumorpha labruscae. Many of the images we have received of this species are a more vivid green, while your moth is a lovely olive color. You can find wonderful photos and information on Bill Oehlke’s great website.

Letter 143 – Gaudy Sphinx


some moth thing
This thing landed outside of my sisters door and took a nap for about 3 or 4 hours and then went away. We are just curious what it is. Thanks,

Hi Michelle,
This is a Gaudy Sphinx. Most of our reports come from Florida. If your sister lives in Ontario, this is a significant sighting, but sadly, we have no idea where your sister lives.

Letter 144 – Gaudy Sphinx


It had about a 4 inch wing span. it’s caught in cob webs on my ceiling in this photos.we live in the sticks 30miles nw of austin,texas.i had recentiy brought in my lei plant.(pulmeria i think). nice site you have

Hi Miles,
This beauty is known as a Gaudy Sphinx.

Letter 145 – Gaudy Sphinx Caterpillar


Moth caterpillar
The caterpillar in the attached photographs was on the boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, Florida, on August 26. There was no plant nearby that might have been a larval host. It was about 4 inches long and close to 1 inch in diameter. Great Batesian mimicry for a Water Moccasin, although considerably smaller. The spot on the top of the tail end (upper left in photo) would pulsate when the caterpillar was agitated — first by some ants, and then when it was moved to the side of the boardwalk so a passerby wouldn’t accidentally step on it. One person suggested an instar of the caterpillar for an Abbot’s Sphinx Moth. Can you identify?

This is a Gaudy Sphinx Caterpillar, Eumorpha labruscae, and it is quite serpentine.

Letter 146 – Gaudy Sphinx Caterpillar


snake caterpillar
What a great site you have. I live on St.John ,US Virgin Islands. Yesterday a friend came by with this huge caterpillar on his baseball cap.He had just picked it up down the street,it was crawling on a fence post.We were all afraid to let it crawl on us because it looked just like a snake. It would follow your fingers with it’s eyes and puff up it’s throat like a cobra (not quite as extreme but definatly threatening) It also had something on it’s tail that looked a little like a third eye or maybe a decoy little antenna that blinked rapidly. Anyway, before we released him, we concluded it must be a lunar moth caterpillar but then I found your site and now we know that is not the case.Any idea what this beauty may be?
Doug Benton
St John VI

Hi Doug,
What marvelous photos of a Gaudy Sphinx Caterpillar, Eumorpha labruscae labruscae. This tropical species is somewhat common in Florida. The caterpillars feed on Possum Vine, Ludwigia, Magnolia, and other plants. The adult is a lovely green moth. There is more information on Bill Oehlke’s amazing site.

Letter 147 – Gaudy Sphinx Caterpillar


BIG caterpillar
Would you please identify this BIG caterpillar for me and tell me what kind of Moth it will become? I live in Sarasota, FL, and I found it on a morning walk with my dog about a month ago. I thought it was the severed head of a snake when I first saw it. The little dot in the teardrop shaped circle on the caterpillars back end had an odd pulse to it. The dot was shiny, where the rest of the caterpillar looked like feathers. The thing was quite strong and heavy, as caterpillars go. The caterpillar was about 4 inches long and about 3/4 inch in diameter, and well camoflaged. I took it to my grandkids to see the oddity and they released it in a wooded area after a good look. I thought they may never see such a thing again. It was my first time to see such a BIG caterpillar, too. Thank you for your help!
Jane H.
Sarasota, FL

Hi Jane,
This is a Gaudy Sphinx Caterpillar, Eumorpha labruscae. The dot you mention is the remains of the caudal horn found on most caterpillars of Sphinx Moths. In the Gaudy Sphinx, the horn is shed and a callous remains. The caterpillar is an excellent snake mimic which helps to prevent it from being eaten by birds. The moth is a beautiful green color with blue and red on the underwings.

Letter 148 – Gaudy Sphinx Caterpillar: early and later instars


pandora sphinx moth??? Dear Bugman,
My 7 year old son Alex loves your site! We are always reviewing the pictures to find caterpillars. My son found this caterpillar on a vine on his school playground and brought it home when it was a baby. He named it “Spot” because of the spots. Now it’s gotten huge, molted off his tail and doesn’t really have spots anymore. We looked at your site and are guessing it is a Pandora Sphinx Moth based on the pictures. Can you confirm this for us?
Thank you!
Alex’s Mom

Dear Alex and Alex’s Mom,
We probably would have agreed with you based on the earlier photo as there are not always photos available of early caterpillar instars and often quite a physical change occurs as they molt. This is not a Pandora Sphinx Caterpillar, but a member of the same genus, the Gaudy Sphinx, Eumorpha labrusca. The larval food includes many vines according to Bill Oehlke: “In Florida larvae have been found on Possum Vine (Cissus sicyoides ). Cissus incisa, Cissus verticillata, Eupatorium odoratum, Ludwigia, Magnolia, Parthenocissus and Vitis vinifera are all reported hosts. “

Thank you sooo much! And you are so right, looking at other pics on the web now that I have the correct name. Also we are in Florida so that all makes sense! You the BUG MAN!

Letter 149 – Gaudy Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: Black & green bug??????
Location: Paleo Hammock Preserve, GFort Peirce , Fl
June 29, 2013 4:09 pm
I was out photographing and I came across this unusual caterpillar looking thing with what looks like a tail.
Signature: Chet Smith

Gaudy Sphinx Caterpillar, we believe
Gaudy Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Chet,
First we want to compliment you on your excellent photograph of a Sphinx Moth Caterpillar.  Though we could not identify the species without additional research, the family Sphingidae whose members are commonly called Hornworms is obvious.  The caterpillars eventually mature into adults commonly called Sphinx Moths or Hawkmoths.  We used the Sphingidae of the Americas website and we believe we have correctly identified your caterpillar as a Gaudy Sphinx,
Eumorpha labruscae, and we believe this caterpillar still has some growing to do.  All caterpillars pass through five phases or instars prior to entering the pupal stage.  We believe that this is an earlier instar because of the appearance of the horn.  Mature Gaudy Sphinx Caterpillars lose the horn by the time they reach the final or fifth instar stage.  Mature Gaudy Sphinx Caterpillars are thought to resemble snakes.  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas site:  “In Florida larvae have been found on Possum Vine (Cissus sicyoides).  Cissus incisa, Cissus verticillata, Eupatorium odoratum, Ludwigia, Magnolia, Parthenocissus and Vitis vinifera are all reported hosts.”  The adult Gaudy Sphinx is a beautiful green moth.  We are going to contact Bill Oehlke to verify our identification and we are going to copy him on our response to you because he might want to use your beautiful photo on his own site as well.  We hope you will grant him permission.

Gaudy Sphinx Caterpillar
Gaudy Sphinx Caterpillar

Bill Oehlke concurs
It is third or fourth instar Eumorpha labruscae.
Bill Oehlke


Letter 150 – Gaudy Sphinx from Argentina


Strange Moth(?)
Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 1:20 PM
Strange Moth(?)
i was with my friends having dinner in the garden at night when we spotted this rare moth-like bug, at first, we thought it was a little bird (it was as big as my hand with its wings spread) finally it got closer, an one of my friends went to have a closer look , it released some kinf of liquid from its abdomen, wich scared him a little bit, jaja, then it just flew away, i believe it is one of those night moths, altough i never saw one so big, an green like this one… any ideas?
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Gaudy Sphinx
Gaudy Sphinx

Hola Federico,
Most of the photos we receive of the Gaudy Sphinx, Eumorpha labruscae, come from Florida and the Caribbean, so we are happy to have your Argentine example from the southern portion of the species’ range.

Letter 151 – Gaudy Sphinx from Argentina


Found another bug for you
Location:  Iguazu, Argentina.
November 7, 2012
Daniel, I found this bug hanging out on an exterior wall of the LOI Suites Hotel at night in Iguazu, Argentina. What type of bug is it?
Allison Jones

Gaudy Sphinx

Hi Allison,
We miss you at LACC.  This beautiful moth is a Gaudy Sphinx,
Eumorpha labruscae, a species of Hawkmoth or Sphinx Moth.  It is a wide ranging species, and individuals are frequently reported from Florida as well as from the Caribbean.  You may read more about the Gaudy Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Letter 152 – Gaudy Sphinx from Cuba


unknown moth
Hi Bugman,
Would you happen to know what kind of moth this is. I saw it in Cuba in February 2006.

Hi Darren,
This beautiful moth is a Gaudy Sphinx and we sometimes get reports of them from Florida.

Letter 153 – Gaudy Sphinx from Haiti


Subject: Haitian Beetle / Mothlike
Location: Pignon, Haiti
October 21, 2012 1:24 pm
I had the great privilage to serve in Haiti last week and was greeted by the following insect. It is hard to describe, but it look like a moth or butterfly at first until it bit me and when I swatted it away it has a hard shell like a beetle. It is about the size of a credit card (maybe alittle smaller)
Signature: Mike

Gaudy Sphinx

Dear Mike,
You are mistaken.  This Gaudy Sphinx is not a beetle and your observations that it is mothlike were astute since it is a moth.  The Gaudy Sphinx,
Eumorpha labruscae, is found throughout Central America and many of the Caribbean Islands, and its range extends as far north as Texas and Florida.  The Sphingidae of the Americas website notes:  “although primarily a tropical species, it has been taken as far north as Saskatchewan and Manitoba” since it is such a strong flier.  Moths have mouthparts that function like straws for sucking nectar and other fluids, and they are not capable of biting.  The sensation you felt was most likely contact with the legs or other body parts when the Gaudy Sphinx collided with you.

Letter 154 – Great Ash Sphinx


Sphinx moth???
I found this moth on the ground by my barn last summer in Prescott, AZ. Is this some kind of sphinx? We also grow tomatoes and get those huge green hornworms. My father said that the worms are actually the catapillars of this sphinx moth. Is that correct? Thanks for your help!
Erin Ferriera

Hi Erin,
Your beautiful moth is a Great Ash Sphinx, Sphinx chersis. The caterpillars on your tomatoes are related, but a different species, either Manduca quinquemaculatus, the Five-spotted hawkmoth or Manduca sexta, the Carolina Sphinx.

Letter 155 – Wild Cherry Sphinx, NOT Great Ash Sphinx


Subject: What’s this
Location: Pacific Palisades CA 90272
June 21, 2016 6:07 pm
Can you tell me what this is? Never seen one
Signature: Doesn’t matter

Great Ash Sphinx
Wild Cherry Sphinx

We verified the identity of your Great Ash Sphinx, Sphinx chersis, thanks to the Sphingidae of the Americas site.

Great Ash Sphinx
Wild Cherry Sphinx

Correction:  August 14, 2019
While searching for an example of a Great Ash Sphinx in our archives to link with a new submission, we realized we had misidentified this Wild Cherry Sphinx, Sphinx drupiferarum, which we verified on Sphingidae of the Americas.

Letter 156 – Great Ash Sphinx


Subject:  Please ID this moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Canoga Park, CA, USA
Date: 08/14/2019
Time: 01:16 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello, I found this large grey moth on the sidewalk while going to work. It was about the size of a small human hand.
How you want your letter signed:  Joshua Kleinberg

Great Ash Sphinx

Dear Joshua,
This is a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae, and we believe it is a Great Ash Sphinx which is pictured on Sphingidae of the Americas.

Letter 157 – Probably Rustic Sphinx Caterpillar, Great Ash Sphinx Caterpillar


Leaning toward carnage…..
Dear What’s that Bug?
First let me say I adore your site, I have used it to identify many a creature in and around my home and there are more than a few spiders that own there lives to you and your unnecessary carnage pages. Talk about guilt bombs, more about that later. I purchase a lilac bush for my husband this year, he mentioned that they had a bush near his home when he was a kid and he loves the sent of the flowers. Earlier this month these worms or caterpillars showed up on the stems of that bush eating the leaves. When I first noticed them they were about an inch and a half in length and doing minimal damage. Now they are almost 4″ long and are destroying the little bush. I have been trying for days to identify them and find out if I can move them to an alternate food source. As I mentioned they are almost 4″ long without the horn. They have a voracious appetite and appeared on a Lilac bush in Mid August in Lake Lure, NC,. They most resemble a Sphinx Moth caterpillar to me, They have seven pairs of oblique blue gray stripes, but, lack the white nodules all over the thorax, they do have light green to yellow spikes on the top of the head? But not the underside. The horn is light green, not dark green or red. I don’t think it is a Tobacco or Tomato horn worm larva but then I have seen a number of what seemed to be Tobacco or Tomato Horn worms that were ID’ed as Sphinx Moth Caterpillars and vice versa so I am a little confused. I have attached some pictures. The first is just something I found interesting. I had taken some pictures in the morning of the 20th and by mid afternoon the greenies were significantly reduced in size. You can see the difference in the first and second picture. I believe it was because it we were having record high temperatures and have had little rain, I think they just lost a lot of fluid. I am considering a quick and painless execution if they do anymore damage. The execution is scheduled for Sunset on the evening of August the 24th, they seem to do the most damage during the night and I don’t think the Lilac can take anymore than that. I know you are busy and that you may not be able to get back to me in time to save either, but thank you for your time just the same.
Dani Whipple

Hi Dani,
First we want to say that the damage done by caterpillars to deciduous trees is not permanent as new leaves will grow back. This is some type of Sphinx Moth Caterpillar, and we are relatively certain it is the Great Ash Sphinx, Sphinx chersis. Larval host plants include ” ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen” according to Bill Oehlke. We hope we have convinced you to stay the execution.

Update: (08/24/2007) Carnage averted!
The execution has been called off. I woke up this morning and the caterpillars eating the lilac bush were gone! The plant is in a pot on the deck so I don’t know where they went, it does not appear that they burrowed. It’s as if they sensed my evil plan ( like I would have killed them) and scattered. There is very little of the lilac left, I hope it recovers. I would still like to know what they were for certain.. Thanks again.
Dani Whipple

Update:  July 30, 2016
Thanks to a comment from Dominic, we have revisited this old posting, and we now believe this is a Rustic Sphinx Caterpillar based on images posted to Sphingidae of the Americas.

Letter 158 – Great Ash Sphinx Caterpillar


What on earth is this?
I would love to know what kind of caterpillar or larvae we found our dog playing with. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s about 4 inches long and about 3⁄4 inch in diameter.
Thanks for your help

This one took a bit of research. Seems the color phase is a little unusual. This is the caterpillar of a Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx, Sphinx chersis chersis. We located some information on Bill Oehlke’s great site.

Letter 159 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar


Caterpillar ID
I have been trying to ID This cattapiller, I photographed in the summer down near the river bottoms, West TN. Thank you
Kathleen Chute

Hi Kathleen,
This is some species of Sphinx Moth in the family Sphingidae. We will try to get a positive ID.

Thank you very Much, I too felt it was of the sphinx moth class but there is such a big difference in pattern. Thanks a Bunch for any and all help.
Kathleen Chute

Hi again Kathleen,
After some research, we now believe this is a Great Ash Sphinx Caterpillar, Sphinx chersis. It seems to be an atypical color pattern. Both Bill Oehlke’s wonderful website and BugGuide have a photo taken by Tony Thomas in 1993 that looks very similar to your caterpillar, but it is a lateral view. We will consult with Bill Oehlke to see if he agrees with our assessment.

I am leaning more toward Agrius cingulata due to black markings on head, but I cannot tell for sure as there is nothing for size comparison, possible food plant. I would need a lateral view. Sorry. It might be chersis??
Bill Oehlke

Letter 160 – Hermit Sphinx Caterpillar


can’t find this one on your pages
I’ve looked through all your pages, but can’t find anything
quite like this gray caterpillar. I found it on a red
bee balm plant in my garden in north central Minnesota two
days ago. Last night it was in the 30s, and it’s gone.
It resembles a few you have, but isn’t quite right. The
gray color and head shape are right for the Xylophanes Falco,
but that has bright white spots and mine doesn’t. Also,
mine has one large dark spot on the top of its head, and a
dark spot [teeth?] in the front. It somewhat resembles
the Tersa Sphinx that I saw on your and Bill Oehlke’s site,
with a similar head shape but mine has fewer and less clear
spots. He says it’s found in Mexico and Texas – a long
way from Minnesota. It’s also a bit like a rustic sphinx
with the diagonal lines, but that doesn’t have dots like mine.
Can you tell me what it is? And if possible, I’d
love to see a photo of what it will turn into.
By the way, your photos are gorgeous. It took me forever
to look through your pages because I kept stopping to admire
them. Thanks,

Hi Susan,
Thanks to your submission, we now have a Hermit Sphinx Caterpillar,
Lintneria eremitus, on our site. You can see photos of the
adult moth on Bill
Oehlke’s excellent website

Letter 161 – Hermit Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: A caterpillar that I have not seen before!
Location: Southwest Michigan
August 25, 2016 8:48 pm
I found this caterpillar near my garage door while trimming my fire bushes. I live in southwest Michigan, and it is mid August. My father in-law is a retired middle school science teacher with a vast knowledge of insects and birds who believes it is related to the tomato eating caterpillar of the Sphinx variety, but I wanted more certainty. Could you help?
Signature: Curiously, Sang Park

Hermit Sphinx Caterpillar
Hermit Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Sang Park,
Your father-in-law is correct that this is a Sphinx Caterpillar in the family Sphingidae.  We believe we have correctly identified it as a Hermit Sphinx Caterpillar,
Lintneria eremitus, thanks to images of the Sphingidae of the Americas site where it states:  “Larval hosts are various species of beebalm (Monarda fistulosa), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), and sage (Salvia).”  Were any of those plants nearby?  It may be easier to verify the identification by comparing your image to this BugGuide image.

We do have a lot of mint growing voluntarily around our house and in our gardens. Thanks for the information!!

Letter 162 – Hog Sphinx


Subject: Lyme/Hawthorne in NE PA ?
Location: NE PA-Bradford CO.
July 7, 2013 6:54 am
Took a pic of this guy at work on 7/5/13. Searched on line and saw the post from 2009. Please let me know your thoughts on this pic.
Signature: Chris Bean

Hog Sphinx
Hog Sphinx

Dear Chris,
While your moth does superficially resemble the Lyme Hawkmoth, your Hog Sphinx,
Darapsa myron, is actually a local member of the same family.  Other common names for the Hog Sphinx include the Grapevine Sphinx and Virginia Creeper Sphinx.  You can read more about it on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Thanks for the quick response, guess its good news its not the Lyme……

Letter 163 – Hog Sphinx


Subject: What’s this moth
Location: New Hampshire
July 4, 2017 4:27 pm
Good day – this moth fell out of a hanging basket of pansys today. Wondering what kind it might be. I live in New Hampshire, USA and I don’t believe I have seen a moth like this before.
Signature: Brendan

Hog Sphinx

Dear Brendan,
Your Sphinx Moth is
Darapsa myron, commonly called a Virginia Creeper Sphinx or Hog Sphinx.

Letter 164 – If in Florida, possibly the Tantalus Sphinx, Maybe Arrow Sphinx Caterpillar in questionably South Africa


I know the pictures are bad. But I’m hoping you can i.d. this guy (there are actually five on the plant) munching on our silver buttonwood. It’s sort of orange with a darker orange broad band going down the length of its back. It has a creamy colored head. Any ideas? Thank you! I love your site!

Hi Joseph,
Based on assumptions we have made, this could be an Arrow Sphinx, Lophostethus dumolinii, if you live in South Africa. Your photo is of a Sphinx Moth Caterpillar, and we typed sphinx and buttonwood into a google search and came up with a species that feeds on that tree. We found a photo of the adult moth, but not the caterpillar, so we might not be right, especially since we don’t know from what part of the world you wrote.

We figured it was some sort of a Sphinx moth, but we are actually in South Florida. Do you have any other guesses based on our region?

A new web search led us to this bit of information about Silver Buttonwood: “Occasional larval host plant for martial hairstreak (Strymon martialis) butterflies and Tantalus Sphinx (Aellopus tantalus) moths.” Sadly, we couldn’t locate an image of the larva online to verify that it is your caterpillar.

Letter 165 – Juanita Sphinx Caterpillar


Bullseye caterpillar?
July 23, 2009
Hi Lisa Anne and Daniel, even with this caterpillar’s distinctive markings I am unable to identify it. It was found on the grass stem (cannot say it was feeding) on a prickly pear/sagebrush steppe but near a riparian area.
You are my last, best hope for an i.d. and I have unbounded faith in you!
Thanks in advance.
outskirts of Casper, WY

Juanita Sphinx Caterpillar
Juanita Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Dwaine,
We are thrilled to be able to return a favor since you always send us such awesome butterfly images that are already identified.  The markings on your caterpillar are absolutely gorgeous, much like the weaving of a Persian rug.  We quickly identified this Juanita Sphinx Caterpillar, Proserpinus juanita, on Bill Oehlke’s awesome website.  Most Sphinx Caterpillars are characterized by a caudal horn, giving them the name Hornworm, but this species loses its horn on the molt between the forth and fifth instar according to the images posted by Bill.  We are going to copy Bill Oehlke on this reply since your gorgeous caterpillar differs slightly in coloration from the example he has posted.  Bill is also compiling comprehensive data on species distribution.

Juanita Sphinx Caterpillar
Juanita Sphinx Caterpillar

Letter 166 – Larva of a Banded Sphinx


Subject: catrerpillar
Location: southeast Texas
November 16, 2015 8:44 am
It was the size of a tomato worm, but out in the marsh.
Signature: John

Banded Sphinx Larva
Banded Sphinx Larva

Dear John,
While it is a different species, your Banded Sphinx larva is in the same family, Sphingidae, as the Tomato Hornworm.  The Banded Sphinx larva is highly variable, but we did locate an individual with this coloration on BugGuide.  The Banded Sphinx larva loses its distinctive caudal horn in an early molt, rendering it a hornless Hornworm.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on Evening Primrose, Oenothera species, Water Primrose, Ludwigia species, and other related plants (Onagraceae)” and water primrose grows in marshes, so that is most likely what this individual was feeding upon.

Letter 167 – Laurel Sphinx


Subject: Unidentified Moth
Location: Allegan, MI
June 28, 2017 9:52 am
Found on wood outside my office building near a river – camouflaged well with the wood.
Signature: Ani

Laurel Sphinx

Dear Ani,
This is a Laurel Sphinx,
Sphinx kalmiae, and it is very well camouflaged against that wooden wall.  According to Sphingidae of the Americas:  ” In Canada, Sphinx kalmiae is single-brooded with most adults on the wing in June and July.  In New Jersey and Connecticut and states of that latitude, the Laurel Sphinx is double-brooded (late May-June flight and then again in July-August).  There are as many as six broods in Louisiana with the first brood appearing in early to mid April.”

Laurel Sphinx

Letter 168 – Laurel Sphinx from Canada


Subject: Mystery Moth.
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
July 26, 2014 10:48 am
Hello! Found this fairly large moth in my mothers backyard, hanging out on the fence, early evening. I have no idea what it is!
Signature: -Auraus

Laurel Sphinx
Laurel Sphinx

Dear Auraus,
This lovely moth is a Laurel Sphinx,
Sphinx kalmiae, and we identified it thanks to the comprehensive database on the Sphingidae of the Americas site where it states:  “In Canada, Sphinx kalmiae is single-brooded with most adults on the wing in June and July. In New Jersey and Connecticut and states of that latitiude, the Laurel Sphinx is double-brooded (late May-June flight and then again in July-August). There are as many as six broods in Louisiana with the first brood appearing in early to mid April.”  We are grateful that you were able to obtain an image that reveals the underwings.

Laurel Sphinx
Laurel Sphinx

Ah hah! Thank you so much for the identification. 🙂 It was actually very happy to sit in my hand and pose for photos. Getting it to leave was the trick. 😉

Letter 169 – Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar


big fat larva thing 🙂
hi there,
can you help us identify this larva/caterpillar thing we found in our garden? we live in northern ontario (canada), and our cat found it near our lilac bushes. it measures approx. 3 inches when stretched out. it is *lightning* fast, i never would have imagined something so fat moving that fast. if you poke it it thrashes very aggressively. what purpose does the ‘horn’ serve? we showed it to a neighbor who is an avid gardener and were told they would eat our tomato plants if we didnt get rid of them. thanks in advance for any info you can give us, cheers,
gabriel & rio

Hi Gabriel and Rio,
You caterpillar is not a Tomato Hornworm, but a close relative, the Laurel Sphinx, Sphinx kalmiae, which is easily distinguished from other Sphinx or Hawkmoth caterpillars known as Hornworms because of its black and blue mottled horn. It feeds on laurels, ashes, lilacs, privets; also reported from poplars. It will not eat tomatoes.

Letter 170 – Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar


Tomato Hornworm- Not shuttlecock!
Location: Housatonic, Massachusetts.
July 29, 2011 3:13 pm
I know you get hundreds of letters, and I apologize for annoying you!
I must admit, I have learned a LOT- and I mean A LOT from your site. I can now recognize insects/arachnids/etc. (Though, I’m still much better with canine breeds).
Funny story with this is, we were outside playing badmitten. My fiance hit the shuttlecock, which landed on the ground, nothing unusual. I went to pick it up, and noticed it landed right next to this handsome guy!
I was a little shocked, as I have never seen this caterpillar more than three times in my life. I was a little wary of the ’stinger’ but I am certain he was harmless. He was heavy and, might I add, looked quite delicious.
I petted him for a while before letting him go!
So, could you guys confirm my suspicions? Thanks again, and keep up the amazing work!
Signature: Terra

Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Terra,
Many Sphinx Moth Caterpillars look quite similar, and you need to concentrate on the details to get the identifications correct.  We believe we have correctly identified your caterpillar as a Laurel Sphinx,
Sphinx kalmiae, thanks to the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  The blue caudal horn with black markings is correct, as is the black markings on the head, however, the typically black prolegs appear green in your photo.  We will contact Bill Oehlke to get his opinion.

Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar

Letter 171 – Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: Unicorn caterpillar
Location: white river junction vermont
December 1, 2013 8:56 pm
Is this some new mythological creature?!
This slug of a bug was found in white river junction vermont the morning after a soft frost. Just amonst the grass, granting wishes and spinning rainbows. I noticed a school sent you a request for a similar looking insect. Good luck and thanks for responding ahead of time.
Signature: the rich bees

Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar
Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi rich bees,
This Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar,
Sphinx kalmiae, is easily recognized by its textured blue and black caudal horn.  These caterpillars feed on the leaves of a variety of shrubs, including “Ash, fringe-tree, lilac, privet, and plants in the olive family (Oleaceae)” according to BugGuide.  More information on the Laural Sphinx is available on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Thank you Daniel!
You guys are the coolest. I cannot wait to tell the family and my professor who is a bit of an insect fanatic himself.

Letter 172 – Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar with Parasites


Subject: Are these wasp larvae on a laurel sphinx caterpillar?
Location: Michigan
August 27, 2015 6:21 pm
I found this intriguing caterpillar today, and I think it is a laurel sphinx caterpillar. But what are those things on its back? Could those be wasp larvae?
Signature: J. McGuire

Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar with Parasites
Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar with Parasites

Dear J. McGuire,
We agree that this is a Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar, and it does appear to have parasites, however, the parasitoid looks very different from the typical Braconid infestation pictured on Featured Creatures that is typically seen on the Laurel Sphinx and other Hornworms.  We will continue to try to locate a similar looking image and try to identify the species of Parasitoid.

Letter 173 – Laurel Sphinx from Canada


Enormous moth almost the size of a toothpick
Sat, Jun 27, 2009 at 7:20 PM
I found this moth this morning as I was leaving my house. I could hardly believe it was a moth at all,it is by far the largest I have ever seen in my whole life. Very unusual to find one this large in Newfoundland but here it is. I am actually quite terrified of ALL moths in general but seeing as this one is the size of a small bird and I am not afraid of birds,I’m ok with it.
It never moved a muscle all day but has gone completely mad inside it’s glass tonight. I fully intend on releasing it in the AM when it is less agressive and hopefully asleep. I certainly wouldn’t want it turning on me. Anyway could you please tell me just what sort of moth this is? The toothpick in the picture is standard size so as to give you an idea of it’s size. I couldn’t get a shot of it’s underside as it is very angry with me and not likely to sit still for a photo op.
Any information you might have on it is appreciated.
Cyndie from Newfoundland
Conception Bay South,Newfoundland. Sitting on my driveway.

Laurel Sphinx
Laurel Sphinx

Hi Cyndie,
Using Bill Oehlke’s awesome website, we quickly identified your Sphinx Moth as a Laurel Sphinx, Sphinx kalmiae.  According to the site:  “Laurel Sphinx larvae feed primarily on lilac and  fringe.  … Larvae have also been found on privet. ”

Laurel Sphinx
Laurel Sphinx

Letter 174 – Laurel Sphinx Moth


Subject: What kind of moth?
Location: South Central WI
July 27, 2017 3:10 pm
Photo from Blue Mounds, WI. Any idea what type of moth this is? It’s a beauty!
Signature: Thom

Laurel Sphinx Moth

Dear Thom,
Based on this BugGuide image, we believe you sighted a Laurel Sphinx.  Also known as the Fawn Sphinx, BugGuide states:  “this species was long known as the Laurel Sphinx because the specific epithet was mistakenly thought to refer to the host genus
Kalmia (Laurel)” and “Named in honor of botanist Pehr (Peter) Kalm (1716 – 1779), one of the most important apostles of Carl Linnaeus.”  The actual food plants posted on BugGuide are:  “Ash, fringe-tree, lilac, privet, and plants in the olive family (Oleaceae).”  Sphingidae of the Americas provides this explanation for the name:  “The species name ‘kalmiae probably originates from Pehr Kalm, an 18th century Swedish naturalist. ‘Kalmia‘ is the genus name for various laurels. Moths may have been seen nectaring at the flowers, or the golden colour of the forewings might have suggested the ‘laurel wreathe’ used to honour ‘gold medalists’.”  The Laurel Sphinx Caterpillar is also quite impressive.

Letter 175 – Laurel Sphinx, we believe


Subject:  moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Niagara region
Date: 07/23/2018
Time: 08:27 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Good day Bug People!
We saved a moth from a drooly, death by Newfy, recently. I have never seen this particular moth before. Your help is most appreciated.
How you want your letter signed:  Tracey

Laurel Sphinx, we believe

Dear Tracey,
Based on images on the Sphingidae of the Americas site, we believe this is a Laurel Sphinx,
Sphinx kalmiae, however, we would not rule out that it might be different but similar looking species in the genus.

Letter 176 – Lesser Vine Sphinx


Hi Bugman,
I love your site. Could you help me identify this bug found in Orlando Florida, 2003?
Thank you, Beth

Hi Beth,
You have sent in a photo of a Lesser Vine Sphinx, Eumorpha fasciatus. The moth is common in the Gulf States and southward, but is sometimes reported from as far north as Massachusetts.

Letter 177 – Lesser Vine Sphinx


I found this moth this afternoon on the house near the azalea bushes. I’m afraid I wasn’t able to hold the camera absolutely steady, but I think you can still see most of the detail. We live outside of Savannah, GA in Pooler. The body measures 3 inches as do the wings across the widest point – at the bottom. It looks similar to the unidentified hawkmoth on your page. I have also had what I think are some tomato hornworms on my tomato plants. Thank you for any information you may be able to provide. Your website is fascinating. We have a lot of interesting bugs around here, so when I see others that look unusual, I will send you more photos.

Hi Celeste,
You have sent in a photo of a Lesser Vine Sphinx, Eumorpha fasciatus. Jim Tuttle has just brought this correction to our attention. The moth is common in the Gulf States and southward, but is sometimes reported from as far north as Massachusetts.

Letter 178 – Lesser Vine Sphinx


For you
I came home from work this evening, and this pretty guy was resting on my front door. I believe it is a Lesser Vine Sphinx. I tried to take a couple decent pics for your site if you could make use of them. Thanks for all of your wonderous work!!
~Neptune Bch, FL

Hi Jacob,
We agree with your identification of the Lesser Vine Sphinx.

Letter 179 – Mating Big Poplar Sphinxes


Subject: Moth
Location: Denver, CO
June 21, 2014 3:16 pm
These were on my fence, about 3″ across.
Signature: Mtnwanderer

Mating Big Poplar Sphinxes
Mating Big Poplar Sphinxes

Dear Mtnwanderer,
These appear to be mating Big Poplar Sphinxes,
Pachysphinx occidentalis, and you can verify that on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Letter 180 – Mating Big Poplar Sphinxes: Pale Form


Hi there and thanks for your informative site
As best as I can see – the moths on my front porch today are Modest Sphinxes – they do not seem to have the distinct battle colors of the Cerisy’s. We live in the country east of Parker Colorado
Don Mackenzie

Hi Don,
Your photo is breathtakingly beautiful. This is a species closely related to the Modest Sphinx. It is the Big Poplar Sphinx, Pachysphinx occidentalis, the pale color form. Bill Oehlke’s wonderful website has some nice images of this beautiful moth. We have also heard it called the Western Poplar Sphinx.

Update:  November 29, 2015
Bill Oehlke Responds to comment.
My guess is they are both occidentalis, based primarily on the basal area of the forewing, but they could also be both modesta or a male modesta with a female occidentalis, but first choice is both are  occidentalis.
Thanks for thinking of me. Please see if I can get permission to post this, credited to photographer (name??)  to a Douglas County pictoral checklist that I would create.

Letter 181 – Mating Blinded Sphinxes


Sphinx Moth?
Location: Connecticut shoreline
July 7, 2011 9:52 am
These two very large moths were mating in my garden in Clinton, CT. The larger of the two is almost 3” long (head to wing tip).
I thought they might be blinded sphinxes, but they don’t have the eye on the underwing.
Beautiful and interesting, but what???
Signature: Sincerely, Toni Leland

Mating Blinded Sphinxes

Hi Toni,
You are correct.  They are mating Blinded Sphinxes, but the eyespot is covered until the underwings are revealed.  This is the third submission of Blinded Sphinxes we are posting today, and they seem to be eclosing from far and wide, including Washington State and Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Letter 182 – Mating Fig Sphinxes


Hawk Moths-Do you know what kind. From Florida
Sat, Nov 8, 2008 at 2:00 PM
William Arney

Mating Fig Sphinxes
Mating Fig Sphinxes

Hi William,
These are mating Fig Sphinxes, Pachylia ficus, and we are thrilled to post your photo.

Letter 183 – Mating indigenous One-Eyed Sphinxes


Possible Lime Hawk introduction to NW Washington State
Sat, Jul 4, 2009 at 8:02 PM
Early today my mother was in the back yard and discovered these motrhs in the midst of breeding. We took pictures and then she went back and captured one of them.We had never seen anything like it( and since they don’t seem to be indigenous , I know why…)
Dave Hinds
Samish Island ,Washingon

Mating One-Eyed Sphinxes
Mating One-Eyed Sphinxes

Hi Dave,
Despite the resemblance to the introduced Lime Hawk Moth we just posted, your mating One-Eyed Sphinxes, Smerinthus cerisyi, are in fact native to the U.S. and range in Washington state.  You can read more about this lovely moth on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Letter 184 – Mating Poplar Sphinxes


what is the name of the moth?
i hope you can help, i found these two moths mating on my garden and would like to know the name of them. could you help?
Thank you,

Hi Lee,
This has to be one of the most ironic postings we have ever had. Your photo is of a pair of mating Modest Sphinxes, Pachysphinx modesta. There is some confusion regarding the names here though. Our old Holland book lists the common name of Pachysphinx modesta as the Big Poplar Sphinx and a variety, Pachysphinx modesta occidentalis as the Western Poplar Sphinx. The USGS website Moths of North America calls P. modesta the Modest Sphinx and P. occidenatalis as the Big Poplar Sphinx. Our Audubon guide lists P. modesta as the Big Poplar Sphinx. We are going with the government site since we like that you have caught the Modest Sphinxes mating. Caterpillars of both species feed on cottonwood, aspen, poplar and willow. Adults do not feed. P. modesta is an eastern species and P. occidentalis is western.

Letter 185 – Mating Modest Sphinxes


Subject: What kind of moths are these?
Location: East Coulee Alberta
May 27, 2016 8:26 pm
These two were spotted east of Drumheller Alberta. Im curious what they are called.
Signature: Curious Kim

Mating Modest Sphinxes
Mating Modest Sphinxes

Dear Curious Kim,
We turned to the Sphingidae of the Americas site to verify the identity of your mating Sphinx Moths, and we have determined that they are mating Modest Sphinxes,
Pachysphinx modesta, and we are amused at their seemingly immodest behavior.  The species is also called the Poplar Sphinx, and it resembles a closely related species, Pachysphinx occidentalis, which has been “delisted” on the species from Alberta page of Sphingidae of the Americas.  Interestingly the species page on Sphingidae of the Americas still states:  “Pachysphinx occidentalis occidentalis, the Big Poplar Sphinx (Wing span: 5 1/8 – 5 7/8 inches (13 – 15 cm)), flies in riparian areas and suburbs from Alberta and North Dakota west to eastern Washington; south to Texas, Arizona, southern California, and Baja California Norte.”  We will attempt to contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can provide a conclusive identification and perhaps indicate why the second species was “delisted.”

Letter 186 – Mating Mournful Sphinxes


Subject: Is this mournful sphinx? Two mating?
Location: Cape Coral Fl
November 11, 2016 8:09 pm
Hi- This was on the side of my house late afternoon near my garden, Cape Coral Florida 11/11/2016- thought it was a bat , but looks like two moths maybe mating?
Saw pic on your website- identified as Mournful Moth? Any ideas? thanks
Signature: R p

Mating Mournful Sphinxes
Mating Mournful Sphinxes

Dear R p,
You are correct that these are mating Mournful Sphinxes.

Thanks Daniel- Very Cool!!?

Letter 187 – Mating One Eyed Sphinxes


bug love
I just came across your “bug love” page, and thought you might be interested to see this picture. I live in NorthWest Washington, and I have rarely ever seen a moth this size! (That’s why the hand is there, to show how big they are!) This was taken on the 4th of July, 06. I took the picture because they were so big, and it wasn’t till later that I realized what they must be doing!

Hi Melody,
Your moths are Mating One Eyed Sphinxes, Smerinthus cerisyi. They get the common name due to the hind wings which have “eye spots” that are hidden from view in your photograph.

Letter 188 – Mating Western Poplar Sphinxes


Big Poplar Sphinx?
Hello …
This pair of Moths were photographed in Santa Fe County, New Mexico, near Edgewood, on 7/18/’08. The wings across the widest span (folded) were approximately four inches. They look to be Big Poplar Sphinx, Pachysphinx modesta, but I was pretty sure the range for the Big Poplar was east of the Mississippi. Am I wrong? Subspecies? I know you are busy, any thought would be appreciated. (wonderful site) Thanks …
Richard In Illinois

Hi Richard,
Pachysphinx modesta, also known as the Modest Sphinx as well as the Poplar Sphinx and Big Poplar Sphinx, is listed on Bill Oehlke’s website as being sighted in Illinois. We are copying him on this response so he can add your data to the comprehensive information he is compiling on species distribution.

Correction: from Bill Oehlke
Richard, If you send images to me as a jpg attachment I wil do the id They are most likely P. occidentalis in New Mexico. I would like to use image with credit to you on a Santa Fe County pictoral thumbnail page that I wil create?? P. modesta is generally more eastern, but they do fly into extreme northeastern NM and into eastern Washington. I have to upadate my page for range info on modesta. Most of the western Pachysphinx are proving to be occidentalis.

Ed. Note: OOps, we misunderstood the photo location in the body of the letter and used the Illinois location in the signature.

Letter 189 – Mating Western Poplar Sphinxes


What type of Moth is this?
Tue, Jun 9, 2009 at 12:53 PM
I found this giant moth on a fence in Cedar City, Utah. He was just hanging out so I took his picture. I was afraid to take my quarter back, he kinda creeped me out. I kept thinking he’s gonna fly into my hair and I’m going to freak out. He didn’t. Next day he was gone. I got my quarter back. Well, yesterday he was back and he brought a friend! We get some big creepy bugs and scorpions around here. Best are the Jerusalem crickets. Like little alien creatures! I’ve never seen these before and wondered what they are.
Bug watchin’ in Southern Utah.
Cedar City, (southern) Utah 5700 ft elev.

Mating Western Poplar Sphinxes
Mating Western Poplar Sphinxes

Dear Bug watchin’,
You have had the good fortune to observe mating Western Poplar Sphinxes, Pachysphinx occidentalis a species of Hawk Moth.  They are harmless and the adult moths of this species do not feed, though many Hawk Moths do feed as adults.  According to BugGuide there are:  “Adult: 2 color forms – forewing of light form pale yellowish-brown, darker in median area; forewing of dark form similar to Modest Sphinx ( Pachysphinx modesta ) but with darker lines that contrast more against ground color .”  It seems your photo is of the light form of the moth.

Letter 190 – Mating Western Poplar Sphinxes


Subject: is tHis a moth
Location: lafayette, colorado
July 2, 2015 1:00 pm
Is this a moth? Is it native to Colorado?
Signature: cathy

Mating Western Poplar Sphinxes
Mating Western Poplar Sphinxes

Dear Cathy,
These look like mating Western Poplar Sphinxes,
Pachysphinx occidentalis, to us, and according to BugGuide, they are found in Colorado.  According to BugGuide, the habitat is:  “Riparian areas, open parklands, suburbs at low elevations; adults are nocturnal and attracted to light.”

Letter 191 – Metamorphosis of the Rustic Sphinx


Manduca rustica
Just dicovered your page, great! I moved to Tucson AZ from Europe, and I am still fascinated with the numbers and the size of our insects here. Last year a caterpillar of a hawkmoth mystified us, so we raised it (fed it tons of cape honeysuckle) and waited for the imago. Here are the stages, all huge

Hi Margarethe,
Thank you for sending in your wonderful documentation of the metamorphosis of the Rustic Sphinx.

Letter 192 – Mournful Sphinx


What is it?
A co-worker of mine took this photo at her home. Can you tell us what this is? It looks somewhat like a bird that resembles a leaf. Is it a bird or an insect? We would appreciate it if you could find out for us. Our curiosity is getting the best of us. We look forward to hearing from you
My name is Judy.

Hi Judy,
This is an insect. It is a Sphinx Moth but we are uncertain of the species. Before we do any additional research, we need to know where this photo was taken to help narrow down the possibilities.

Thanks for writing back. My co-worker took this photo at her home in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana. She lives next to Lake Peigneor. This was take just before the hurricanes that arrived in September of 2005. Does this help?

Once you provided us with a location, we quickly located the Mournful Sphinx, Enyo lugubris lugubris, on Bill Oehlke’s site.

Letter 193 – Mournful Sphinx


Mystery Sphinx Moth?
Location: Eatonton GA (Middle GA)
November 10, 2011 10:42 am
Good morning!
I found this moth in my freshly picked beans. It flutters its wings much like a hummingbird type moth – the wings never stopped all the time I had him. He was found 11/10/11 in Middle GA in the vegetable garden and fortunately announced his presence and didn’t inadvertently become a photo in the Carnage section of the site…
Signature: Dixie Gardener

Mournful Sphinx

Hi Dixie Gardener,
This little Sphinx is a Mournful Sphinx,
Enyo lugubris, and you may read more about it on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Thank you so much Daniel! What a cool moth – we have such a variety here. But I wish they ate cucumber beetles…

Letter 194 – Mournful Sphinx


Location: South South East Texas (Surfside)
April 25, 2012 1:08 pm
I thought this was really cool, it looked like a jet. I think it’s some kind of sphinx moth. I know the pic isn’t great, but it’s the only one I have.
Signature: HereFishyFishy

Mournful Sphinx

Dear HereFishyFishy,
This somber Sphinx goes by the austere name Mournful Sphinx.  Its shape is quite distinctive.  You may read more about it on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Letter 195 – Mournful Sphinx


Subject: Wondering what this creature is
Location: Savannah Georgia
November 4, 2012 10:55 am
we found it crawling around and had never seen anything like it before. We are starting a diary of the insects we find and would love to add tis little creaure as the first entry!
Signature: Brenten & Kristin

Mournful Sphinx

Dear Brenten and Kristin,
We think it is awesome that you have decided to begin an insect diary.  Will it be online?  This creature is a Mournful Sphinx,
Enyo lugubris, and it is a moth in the family Sphingidae.  You may read more about the Mournful Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Im thinking of posting it on instagram and possibly start a blog on facebook about it. My instagram name is benzaitengrand check it out sometime! AND thank you for identifying the species!!!!!!

Letter 196 – Mournful Sphinx


Subject: What’s this Sphinx Moth?
Location: Pensacola FL
September 7, 2016 4:40 pm
Can you help me identify this moth?
Signature: Kristie Moore

Mournful Sphinx
Mournful Sphinx

Hi Kristie,
We used the Sphingidae of the Americas site to identify your Mournful Sphinx,
Enyo lugubris.  According to the site:  “Females call in the males with a pheromone released from a gland at the tip of the abdomen. Both males and females nectar at flowers during the day, making a strong whirring sound as they hover. In Florida they have been reported hovering over flowers of Asystasia gangetica at dusk.”

Letter 197 – Mournful Sphinx


Subject: Strange moth in Louisiana
Location: Belle Chasse, LA
October 10, 2016 12:39 pm
Dear Bugman,
We found this moth on our deck in southern Louisiana. I have no idea what it is. Can you help identify it?
Thank you!
Signature: Samantha Gobba

Mournful Sphinx
Mournful Sphinx

Dear Samantha,
This distinctively shaped moth is a Mournful Sphinx,
Enyo lugubris.

Letter 198 – Mournful Sphinx


Subject: Moth
Location: Sarasota County, Florida
December 11, 2016 5:31 am
Found in the A.M. in Sarasota Florida.
Signature: RLockwood

Mournful Sphinx
Mournful Sphinx

Dear RLockwood,
We love that you labeled your image as a “Jet Moth” and we agree 100% that your Mournful Sphinx and other member of the family Sphingidae are the most aerodynamic of all the moths.  Sphinx Moths or Hawkmoths are able to fly forward, backward and they can hover in place.

Letter 199 – Mournful Sphinx


Subject:  Moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Katy,  Texas
Date: 12/03/2017
Time: 12:00 PM EDT
Cool looking moth on my house
How you want your letter signed:  Chris

Mournful Sphinx

Dear Chris,
Your submission is not the first one we have received of Mournful Sphinx moths from Katy, Texas.

Letter 200 – Mournful Sphinx


Spotted Apatelodes Moth?
I just found your website and was amazed. Very cool. I live in Houston, TX and recently found a wheel bug on a table on our back deck. Not knowing what it was I carefully moved it to one of our passion flower vine which is home to many caterpillars. I was horrified to find it devouring a caterpillar only an hour later. I moved it to our neighbor’s yard as I was not wanting to kill it. I have a few pics of an unknown bug. I believe it is a Spotted Apatelodes Moth but am not sure. The antennae do not look mothlike to me. I have more pics if you are interested in them. One curious details about this insect is a ridged hump on its back, near the front. Another is the "finned" tail which look a lot like an airplane’s tailsection. Thanks,

Hi Steve,
We are very thrilled to be able to post your photo of a Mournful Sphinx, Enyo lugubris. The caterpillars feed on the leaves of grape and related plants.

Letter 201 – Mournful Sphinx


I’m unsure if the photo attached to my last e-mail so here is another try. I’ve been googling, but having a hard time finding sites specific to the West Indies (specifically, Dominica) Thank you,
Jungle Bay Resort and Spa
Delices, Dominica

Hi Teal,
Your moth is a Mournful Sphinx, Enyo lugubris. According to Bill Oehlke’s site, this species can be found in the Southern U.S. as well as Central and South America, including the West Indies.

Letter 202 – Mournful Sphinx


Backyard Moth?
Dear Bugman:
Occasionally, I will find one of these insects attached to inner surface of my screened-in backyard patio. To me it appears to be some kind of moth but perhaps you can idetify it for me. Thanks.
Emory Brown
Largo, Florida

Hi Emory,
This is a Mournful Sphinx, Enyo lugubris. You can find photos and information on Bill Oehlke’s awesome website. According to the site: “In Florida larvae have been reported on larvae on Possum Vine ( Cissus sicyoides ) and Pepper Vine ( Ampelopsis arborea )”, so if you have those vines on your patio, it might explain the frequency of the sightings. It appears as though the wings of the specimen in your photo have not completely expanded and hardened after metamorphosis.

Letter 203 – Mournful Sphinx


Thought I was taking pics of hummingbirds last night,but when i looked closely,they were pretty ugly to be birds…… Are these hummingbird moths?? I live in Ocala,FL

Hi Kathy,
Sphinx Moths, especially the dayflying ones, are sometimes called Hummingbird Moths. This is a Mournful Sphinx, Enyo lugubris. Bill Oehlke’s website has much information on this species.

Letter 204 – Mournful Sphinx


What is it?
I found what appears to be a sphinx moth in my garage the other day. After looking through your site, I am sure that’s what it is. However, the tail is different from any of the pics on your site? Have I identified this moth properly? Thanks for your help.
Melissa in Orange Park, FL

Hi Melissa,
This is a Mournful Sphinx, Enyo lugubris. We have other images posted on our site on our five sphinx moth pages.

Letter 205 – Mournful Sphinx


mournful sphinx??
Central Florida, photo taken 9.3.08.
Is this a mournful sphinx?  It drinks from my pentas in the evening and hovers like a hummingbird.  I’ve always called them hummingbird hawk moths.  They come in pairs, and one is darker than the other.  They are 1-1.5" tip to tail. Thanks,
Tobey Barr

Hi Tobey,
In our opinion, you are correct with your identification of a Mournful Sphinx, Enyo lugubris. You can read more about this wide ranging Sphinx on Bill Oehlke’s website.

Letter 206 – Mournful Sphinx


Moth that looks like a catfish
Location:  Sarasota, FL
August 25, 2010 10:55 pm
This moth was just chillin on the door frame outside of my house this morning. He didn’t move. I couldn’t see his eyes. Very weird. I’ve never seen it before, so I posted it’s picture on facebook. No one could tell me either. Good luck!
Sarah Hutchinson

Mournful Sphinx

Hi Sarah,
We don’t know why we have such a difficult time remembering that this unmistakable looking moth is a Mournful Sphinx,
Enyo lugubris.  We have to look up its name each time a photo is submitted to us. Bill Oehlke’s website is the best place to search for Sphinx Moths in the family Sphingidae.

Letter 207 – Mournful Sphinx


Moth in the Everglades
Location: Everglades, Florida
October 24, 2011 9:09 pm
Hello, I took this photo while on a slog through the Everglades (mid-October). Could you help me identify it?
Signature: Jim Poyser

Mournful Sphinx

Hi Jim,
Your somber moth,
Enyo lugubris, goes by the common name the Mournful Sphinx.  The Sphingidae of the Americas website is always a great place to identify Sphinx Moths from the family Sphingidae.  The species is found in the southernmost portions of North America as well as the tropics of Central and South America.  According to BugGuide, it is found in  “Forests, edges, presumably.”

Letter 208 – Mournful Sphinx Caterpillar


Hornworm 11/10
Location: Central Florida/Viera
November 11, 2010 1:36 pm
My daughter would like an ID so she can care for it properly. Seems similar to a Tomato Hornworm? Please help, thanks!
Signature: nativFL

Mournful Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear nativFL,
We did some research and we have arrived at the conclusion that your caterpillar is a Mournful Sphinx Caterpillar,
Enyo lugubris.  You may visit The Sphingidae of the Americas website to compare the photos there.

Letter 209 – Mournful Sphinx from Tortola


Subject: Interesting moth
Location: Tortola in the Caribbean
January 9, 2015 4:06 pm
This came in through an open door about 8pm last night. (2 hours after dark). It is about 1 1/2 inches in length. We were unable to see any markings but what an interesting end to the abdomen! Can you identify this for us please?
Signature: Limin’

Mournful Sphinx
Mournful Sphinx

Dear Limin’,
Though your image is lacking in critical highlight detail, the form of this Mournful Sphinx,
Enyo lugubris, is quite unmistakable.  Your Mournful Sphinx, which followed this beautiful Pacific Green Sphinx, is member of the family Sphingidae with caterpillars called Hornworms, that we have posted today.

Letter 210 – Mournful Sphinx visits Georgian kitchen


Subject: Moth
Location: West central Georgia
October 8, 2016 10:27 am
In my kitchen this morning in west central Georgia. Thanks!
Signature: ??

Mournful Sphinx
Mournful Sphinx

WE verified the identity of your Mournful Sphinx, Enyo lugubris, on Sphingidae of the Americas. As you can see in this BugGuide image, the abdomen of the male is a pointed “arrowhead” that is a distinctive feature evident morphologically in your image. According to BugGuide, it is an “Odd-shaped sphinx with almost straight median line, prominent round reniform spot. Coloration brown to greenish-brown. There is a distinctive bend in the median line just above the reniform spot, which differentiates it from E. ocypete. Trailing edge of forewing somewhat scalloped.”   Males tend to be attracted to  lights more than females, which is likely the reason this guy ended up admiring your bottom shelf.

Letter 211 – Mournful Sphinxes


What is this moth? Is it a hawk moth?
Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 10:01 AM
Found these moths on a poinsettia here in Katy (Houston) Texas, January 2, 2009. They may have arrived with the plant which came down from Cheyenne Wyoming, or possibly from Dayton, Ohio where the car carrying the plant came from, or they may be a Texas bug since we didn’t notice the bugs at first.
K Whitley
Katy, Texas 77450

Mournful Sphinxes
Mournful Sphinxes

Hi K,
You are correct. These are Hawk Moths in the family Sphingidae, more specifically, they are Mournful Sphinxes, Enyo lugubris. You can see more images and read information about this species on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  It is a Texas species.

Letter 212 – Mystery Sphinx Caterpillar from Unknown Part of the World!!!! dicovered to be Thailand


Caterpillar Identification
Well I found 3 of these babies happily munching away in my garden this morning! They are about 10cm long, as fat as my thumb and have a little yellow tail. I’d like to know what they are, if they’re particularly common and also how long I will have to wait before they stop demolishing my plants!
With thanks

Hi Nikki,
We would love to identify your caterpillar, but without global coordinates, we don’t know where to start looking for an exact Sphinx Moth species from the 1000’s of possibilities. The name of the food plant would also help.

Apologies at not mentioning I’m in Bangkok, Thailand…it must have been over excitement at having dinosaur like caterpillars in my garden! I’ve narrowed down the shrub they’re eating to some kind of Gardenia, maybe ‘Cape’. I hope this helps.

We did locate a website of the Hawk Moths of Thailand, but there are no caterpillar photos.

Letter 213 – Newly Eclosed Rustic Sphinx


Subject: Strange Black & white bug
Location: Riverview, FL
May 2, 2015 4:03 pm
I found this bug on the side of my house (in the sun) and it was near our water spout. I’ve never seen anything like it. Some have said it’s a moth of some sort. I’m just unsure as it has small wings and a large body.
Signature: Tara

Newly Eclosed Rustic Sphinx, we believe
Newly Eclosed Rustic Sphinx, we believe

Dear Tara,
You are correct that this is a moth.  When a moth first emerges from the pupa, its wings have not yet fully expanded, a process that may take several hours.  We believe this is a newly eclosed Rustic Sphinx.

Freshly Eclosed Rustic Sphinx
Freshly Eclosed Rustic Sphinx

Letter 214 – Newly Eclosed Sphinx Moth


Subject: Large moth with undeveloped wings
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
May 30, 2017 10:27 pm
I was walking today and saw an English sparrow trying to carry off a very large bug.
Its body was about the size of my thumb in length and possibly slightly larger in girth (I have average sized female type thumbs).
At first I thought the wings were damaged, possibly by the sparrow, but upon closer examination it was clear that the wings were intact, just very very small.
Is this a moth that did not properly metamorphosize? It did move in a caterpillary kind of way when I moved it off the pavement.
Maybe some kind of Polyphemus?
Signature: Elaine Shandro

Newly Eclosed Sphinx Moth

Dear Elaine,
This is NOT a Polyphemus Moth, but it is a newly eclosed Sphinx Moth in the family Sphingidae.  When Moths and Butterflies emerge from the pupal stage, their wings are not yet fully expanded and they cannot fly.  Within a few hours of emergence, the wings will expand and harden and the insect is able to fly.  Since your Sphinx Moth had recently emerged from the final stage of metamorphosis, its wings appear undeveloped.  At this stage, they are especially vulnerable as they are unable to flee from predators.  We believe your Sphinx Moth may be a Waved Sphinx, which is pictured on Sphingidae of the Americas.

Letter 215 – Newly Eclosed Sphinx Moth probably Walnut Sphinx


Subject:  What is this bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Central Texas
Date: 07/22/2018
Time: 10:45 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi there! I found this bug in our back yard next to our garden hose and I placed it on the tree. It looked  like a moth coming out of a chrysalis but I couldn’t see any separation whatsoever.  Tried to identify it online with no luck.
How you want your letter signed:  Rachel

Newly Eclosed Walnut Sphinx

Dear Rachel,
You are correct.  This is a Sphinx Moth that has just emerged from the pupal state and its wings have not yet fully expanded.  Since the wings have not fully expanded, we are uncertain of its species identity, but based on images posted to BugGuide and Sphingidae of the Americas, we believe this is a female Walnut Sphinx.

Newly Eclosed Walnut Sphinx

Letter 216 – Newly Emerged Carolina Sphinx


Subject:  ID a bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Orange County Southern CA
Date: 07/25/2021
Time: 03:00 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this bug crawling in my lawn and couldn’t ID it. It’s about 2 inches long.
How you want your letter signed:  Reegs44

Carolina Sphinx newly emerged

Dear Reegs44,
We suspect you have a nearby garden where you have planted tomatoes in the past.  This is a newly eclosed Carolina Sphinx that began life as a Tobacco Hornworm feeding to the leaves of tomato and related plants, which then burrowed into the dirt to pupate, possibly last fall, only to emerge hours before you encountered it.  Its wings have not yet fully expanded and it is not yet able to fly.  We suspect it is now a fully realized imago of a Carolina Sphinx.

Letter 217 – Northern Ash Sphinx


moth like black and white bug
August 8, 2009
My cat found this bug today and tried to bring it inside, I’ve looked all over the internet and can’t figure out what it is.
Patti K.
Phoenix, AZ

Northern Ash Sphinx
Northern Ash Sphinx

Hi Patti,
This is a Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx, Sphinx chersis, and it is newly metamorphosed, which may be why you had difficulty identifying it.  The caterpillar pupates underground, and once it “hatches” it needs to dig to the surface.  It is vulnerable at that point, which is probably why your cat found it.  You can see more images and get more information on Bill Oehlke’s wonderful website.

Letter 218 – Northern Ash Sphinx


Subject: Moth
Location: Lancaster CA
April 10, 2016 12:48 pm
Is this a carpenter worm moth?
Signature: Lesley

Northern Ash Sphinx, we believe
Northern Ash Sphinx

Dear Lesley,
Though it resembles the Australian Wood Moths, this is actually a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae.  We believe it is the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx,
Sphinx chersis, which is profiled on the Sphingidae of the Americas site, but there are several other similar looking members of the genus Sphinx pictured on the website’s California page, and we would not rule them out.  We will contact Bill Oehlke to see if we can get a definitive identification from him.

Bill Oehlke concurs
Sphinx chersis, possibly an aberration or less commonly seen form. Lines on thorax and wings seem especially thick, checkered fringes are missing and some other features are reduced in their contrast to rest of wing. I had to look at it carefully. It probably has not flown yet.
Bill Oehlke

Letter 219 – Northern Ash Sphinx from Canada


Subject: Mothra behind my house?
Location: Calgary, Alberta
May 18, 2016 10:03 pm
I spotted this grey moth sitting against my house. It’s huge. I couldn’t measure it, but I can safely guess it’s 2 inches in length (from the top of it’d head to tip of the wings). Possibly more, but not less. It is may 18th, and it has been a hot dry spring, and a very mild winter (comparatively). I’ve never seen anything like it here. I’ve never seen a moth this big outside of a moth and butterfly exhibit!
I’m so curious as to what it is (and why it’s in my yard??? What do it’s larvae eat?).
Signature: Regards, Sheila

Northern Ash Sphinx
Northern Ash Sphinx

Dear Sheila,
Your moth is one of the Sphinx Moths or Hawkmoths in the family Sphingidae, and we identified it as a Northern Ash Sphinx,
Sphinx chersis, thanks to the Sphingidae of the Americas site where it states “Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.”  If there was a light nearby, it may have been attracted to the light at night.

wow, thank you so much for the quick response! I’m pleased to know it won’t try to make off with my 2 year old. 😛

Letter 220 – Northern Ash Sphinx from Canada


Found a huge, brown moth on my daughter’s bike tire, what is it?
July 3, 2010
At an invitation to “come outside and see something really cool” I followed my 6 year old out to her bike. I was surprised to find a moth about 3 inches long resting on her tire. It has a beautiful face with huge, dark eyes. I searched the web and thought it might be a Sphinx Moth of some sort, you can hopefully tell me better.
Tamworth, Ontario, Canada

Northern Ash Sphinx

Hi Shalaine,
YOur moth is a Northern Ash Sphinx,
Sphinx chersis, and Bill Oehlke’s excellent website has some great information on the species.

Letter 221 – Oleander Sphinx


Sphinx moth question
Dear Bug Man:
I’ve attached a photo of a sphinx moth found in Egypt and my friend is wondering what kind it is. He thinks it’s an oleander sphinx moth but would like confirmation. Can you help? Many thanks.
Pam H.
Williston, FL

Hi Pam,
Yes, you have a photo of the Oleander Sphinx, Deilephila [Daphnis] nerii, which ranges quite far where oleander grows. Our other posting came from Hawaii and that image almost looks color enhanced. Your photo is much more natural.

Letter 222 – Oleander Sphinx


Unidentified Moth
Do you have any idea which species this is? I found this moth on the tire of my rental van one morning on the island of Maui. Thanks for your time.
Steve Collinson

Hi Steve,
This is an Oleander Sphinx, and it is found in many parts of the world where its larval food plant, the oleander, grows.

Letter 223 – Oleander Sphinx


Subject: green caterpillar
Location: Mumbai, India
February 21, 2014 4:41 am
this caterpillar was on a flowering plant in our garden . quite big . it is end of winter (very mild here in Mumbai )
thanks for time and effort
your site is wonderful
Signature: Jeet Sudhir Malhotra

Oleander Sphinx
Oleander Sphinx

Dear Jeet,
This caterpillar is the Oleander Sphinx, the caterpillar of the Oleander Hawkmoth,
Daphnis neri.  Caterpillars in this family, Sphingidae, often have caudal horns, hence the common name Hornworm.  Sphinx also refers to the caterpillar because of the characteristic pose struck by the caterpillar.  The false eyespots characteristic of this Hornworm are a defense mechanism utilized by many insects so they appear larger and more fierce.  The Oleander Sphinx frequently darkens just prior to pupation.  Adults are generally called Oleander Hawkmoths.

Oleander Sphinx
Oleander Sphinx

Thanks Daniel . Really appreciate the quick reply
My daughter just spotted another one –the darker version right now in the garden , near the same tree- It was found on the ground . it has a very jerky action when touched .it remains in curved position and when touched curls to the other direction . really amazing . We will keep a watch and hope we get a chance to see the pupa and the moth
But am a tad disappointed that it is not a butterfly !!!!

Letter 224 – Oleander Sphinx: Caterpillar and Adult; and lovely caterpillar


What kind of caterpillas & mothsr?
Hello WTB,
I found this little guy (8 cm long) enjoying the shoots on my newly acquired Desert Rose (Adenium Obesum). I live about 20 km south of Pattaya, Thailand. Thought I would attempt to identify it before relocating it where it would not eat my beautiful shrubs! >From your site it looks like a Oleander Sphinx Hawkmoth. Can you experts please confirm. I then looked for the corresponding moth, and believe I saw one a few years ago in Pattaya when I was waiting at the local car wash. Photo attached. Can you also confirm please. This morning I found another caterpillar attacking my other Desert Rose but could not find anything similar on your site. Any ideas please? I also took a photo this morning of a very hairy looking moth by my back door. Again, any ideas what it is? Thanks and best wishes. You have a great site.

Hi Chris,
You have correctly identified both the caterpillar and adult of the Oleander Sphinx, Daphnis nerii. We believe your mystery caterpillar is one of the Milkweed Butterflies related to the Monarch. We are not sure what the Desert Rose is, but if it has a milky sap, that would support our guess.

Letter 225 – One Eyed Sphinx


Mystery Moth
Hello Bugman,
Thank goodness you exist! I have been searching for hours trying to identify this moth. This moth was on the side of our house this morning. We live in Seattle, Washington. I have never seen a moth of this particular shape and size before. The wing span is approximately 3 inches. The antennae have very bright red bands of color on them. If you have the chance, could you please tell me what species of moth this is? Thank you very much! p.s. We look forward to exploring your web site and learning more about all the cool insects! Thank you,

Hi Teresa,
This looks to us like The One Eyed Sphinx or Cerisy’s Sphinx, Smerinthus cerisyi. You can locate more information on Bill Oehlke’s excellent Sphingidae Site.

Letter 226 – One Eyed Sphinx


New Moth sighting in LA 4-27-11
Location: Los Angeles, CA
April 27, 2011
Hey guys.  I have another moth sighting today.  May be a variation on the one we talked about last week.  Unfortunately this one did not stick around for the mating process.  Here is a picture.
I also found this on my house near my willow.

One Eyed Sphinx

Thanks for sending us another photo of a One Eyed Sphinx Dan.  We will link to your earlier letter.

Letter 227 – One Eyed Sphinx


Moth I found!
Location: Lynnwood, Washington, USA
June 2, 2011 8:30 pm
Hello Bug Man!
I found this moth outside our garage yesterday morning. It’s wings were soaked so I tried getting them back in the tree, but they wouldn’t hold on. They’ve been in an open shoe box for two days, and now has this grey fuzz growing around the head.. But I have no idea what kind of moth it is, I’ve never seen one this big before.
Signature: Jessie

One Eyed Sphinx

Dear Jessie,
The moth in your photo is a One Eyed Sphinx or Cerisy’s Sphinx,
Smerinthus cerisyi, and you can find out details of its life cycle on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  WE are uncertain what the problem with your individual might be, but things don’t sound so good.  If you have tried releasing the moth and it won’t fly away, it might just be nearing the end of its life.

Yea, she unfortunately passed away a few nights ago, but it’s nice knowing what she was. Thank you!

Letter 228 – One Eyed Sphinx


Subject: Moth NW CT
Location: NW Connecticut
May 21, 2014 8:28 am
Wondering if this is a Spotted Apatelode?
Signature: Lori Welles

One Eyed Sphinx
One Eyed Sphinx

Hi Lori,
Though your moth superficially resembles a Spotted Apatelodes, they are not even in the same family.  Your Sphinx Moth from the family Sphingidae is a One Eyed Sphinx,
Smerinthus cerisyi, and you can read more about it on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  The pretty pink underwings with their distinctive eyespots are not visible in your images.

Letter 229 – One Eyed Sphinx


Subject: Moth picture
Location: Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, Canada
June 10, 2017 7:28 am
A friend of ours has a place in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia (opposite the Eastern tip of Prince Edward Island). Here is a picture of the moth. On of our field biologists and Biosphere (Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve Association) directors identified it as a type of Hawk Moth. But from all of my readings these moths are basically nocturnal yet it came to them in the middle of the day.
Signature: Eliot Frosst

One Eyed Sphinx

Dear Eliot,
This beauty is a One Eyed Sphinx or Cerisy’s Sphinx,
Smerinthus cerisyi, and your image wonderfully illustrates the illusion of a large predator created when the moth flashes the eyespots on its underwings.  According to Sphingidae of the Americas:  ” Here on Prince Edward Island, Cerisy’s Sphinx is one of the earliest Sphingidae (both male and female) to come in to lights, with most appearances occuring [sic] from early June to mid July from 10:00 – 11:30 pm.  When we have an early spring, this moth can be taken as early as mid May.”  We don’t know why this individual was flying during the day.

According to David Harris (at Cape Breton University) these types of moths (he didn’t classify as neatly as you did) in the Springtime seem to get ‘confused’ and will come out during the day.
Eliot Frosst B.Sc.(biology), B.Ed.


Letter 230 – One Eyed Sphinx


what’s this?
700 email. Yikes! My daughter and I were trying to find this moth on your website. It was attached to the wall next to our front door this afternoon. It seemed near death. It has since moved to our door mat and doesn’t seem to have much energy. We have no idea what it is, though it is the largest moth we have seen in San Francisco. Thanks for any help.
Kim Girard
and Kate (who is 4 in August and likes to sing "There ain’t no bugs on me.")

Hi Kate and Kim,
Whoever thought that an appropriate common name for Smerinthus cerisyi was the One Eyed Sphinx does not see very well because a pair of eyespots on the underwings is very evident. Perhaps you couldn’t locate this lovely moth because previous images can be found on our Sphinx Moth pages.

Letter 231 – One-Eyed Sphinx


Possible Leptarctia californiae?
Hello 🙂
Have been searching and looking at images on your site most of the morning. Absolutely awesome information and pictures! My friend Traci found a beautiful moth in her yard in Washington state and I searched every last moth picture I could find on your website and the one single picture that seemed to match was the Leptarctia californiae. I’ve attached a picture and wondered what your identification of this moth would be? Thanks so much.
Brenda Turner

Hi Brenda,
This is a One Eyed Sphinx or Cerisy’s Sphinx, Smerinthus cerisyi. You can locate more information on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Letter 232 – One Eyed Sphinx


I found this bug (moth?) at the front door at work this morning. It didn’t move for about 6 hours so I tapped it and holy crap it grew eye balls and changed colors. Any idea what this is? Regards
Chris Burtis
Auburn, WA

hi Chris,
Your moth is known as the One Eyed Sphinx.

Letter 233 – One Eyed Sphinx


Beautiful Moth – Oops!
HI guys! Just want to know if you know what type of Moth this is? We are having trouble with our email and you may not have even recvd. the last one I sent. Or I’m just not being patient enough :o) Thank you!!!!!

Dianne’s original email
(04/04/2008) Beautiful Moth
We love your site!! We really appreciate the time you have put into it. Yesterday, this Moth landed in our back yard. We were able to enjoy him for most of the day :o) Could you please tell us what kind of moth he is? We looked on your site and found some similar but we’re still not sure. Oh, we live in N. Ca. near Sacramento. Thank you so much!

Hi Dianne,
We had a very rough time in April and many more emails went unanswered. Thanks for resending your lovely photo of a One Eyed Sphinx, Smerinthus cerisyi, also known as Cerisy’s Sphinx.

Letter 234 – One Eyed Sphinx


Black and White Moth
Sun, May 10, 2009 at 1:48 PM
I’m writing this for my 4 year of daughter who caught this moth and want to kn ow what it eats and what this moth’s name is. SInce last summer when I first started identifying bugs with this page my daughter and I are loving it. Thanks so much for doing this.
The moth was on the house during a chilly day (8 degrees Celsius) on May 10th. We live in Ontario Canada (Ottawa). Although we could not catch it with the camera when the wings are open there are two little blue spots that look like eyes on the under wings.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

One Eyed Sphinx
One Eyed Sphinx

Dear Sigyn,
Thank you for the wonderful compliment.  This lovely moth is a One Eyed Sphinx or Cerisyi’s Sphinx, Smerinthus cerisyi .  The best place to learn about Sphinx Moths of North America is on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Letter 235 – One Eyed Sphinx


Unknown Moth Found at My Work
July 31, 2009
Found in Forest Grove, Oregon today. Tried looking online, and failed. Is it local? Or could it have come from another country? We do get pallets of goods at my work from around the world it could have came with.
It has an open wingspan of 3 inches when fully opened.
Alex P
Forest Grove, Oregon

One Eyed Sphinx
One Eyed Sphinx

Dear Alex,
The One Eyed Sphinx, Smerinthus cerisyi, is a local species for you.  You may read more by visiting Bill Oehlke’s wonderful website.

Letter 236 – One Eyed Sphinx


June 5, 2010
Hi Bugman,
This picture was taken in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada on June 5, 2010. I have never seen a moth like this before, It has a wingspan of 2 inches and very unique antennas compared to other moths I’ve seen. I have looked on the internet and can’t find another like it and was wondering if you could help me identify it?
Robert Arnold
Drumheller, Alberta, Canada

One Eyed Sphinx

Hi Robert,
Your moth is a One Eyed Sphinx or Cerisy’s Sphinx, Smerinthus cerisyi, and you may read more about it on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Letter 237 – One Eyed Sphinx, we believe


Subject: moth
Location: Merced, Ca 95340
January 18, 2017 2:57 pm
While cleaning out my shop, I found this long dead beauty.
Signature: Tom Tanioka

Possibly One Eyed Sphinx or Salicet Sphinx

Dear Tom,
This beautiful Sphinx Moth is in the genus
Smerinthus, and Sphingidae of the Americas California page lists three possible species that look very similar.  Though based on images posted to Sphingidae of the Americas, it looks most to us like a Salicet Sphinx, the range is listed as “valleys and along streamsides from Mexico City north to west Texas, New Mexico, southern Arizona, and extreme southern California” and since Merced is in the middle of the state, we suspect it is more likely the wider ranging One Eyed Sphinx which is also pictured on Sphingidae of the Americas.  We will contact Bill Oehlke to get his opinion. 

Letter 238 – One Eyed Sphinx from British Columbia, Canada


Subject: Another unusual moth by by back door
Location: Duncan BC
May 5, 2013 9:11 pm
In 2007 a very large moth appeared at my back door, stayed for five days and then disappeared. Two days ago, this one …. about half the size… appeared in the same place. When I look for Vancouver island moths, I see some White Underwing Moths, but this does not seem to be the same.
Signature: Sharon Jackson

One Eyed Sphinx
One Eyed Sphinx

Dear Sharon,
If you disturb this moth and it reveals its underwings with the eyespots, you will understand why it is called a One Eyed Sphinx.  You can read more about the One Eyed Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  Because of your thoughtful sign, we are awarding you with the Bug Humanitarian Award.

One Eyed Sphinx
One Eyed Sphinx

Thank you! Thank you! I am honoured. I thought it had gone this morning, but it is over on the side wall, further away from the door.

Letter 239 – One Eyed Sphinx from Canada


One-eyed Sphinx Moth
Location: Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
July 4, 2011 3:16 pm
I noticed this male One-eyed Sphinx moth (or at least I’m reasonably sure that’s what it is) near the front door of the Nature Centre where I work this morning. I know you have plenty of pictures of these already, but I thought you’d probably be getting other questions about them around this time of year so I’m sending it along in case it’s useful. Thanks for the great site — I check it very regularly.
Signature: Diane

One Eyed Sphinx

Hi Diane,
We can always find room for beautiful photographs, and we are pleased to include your photo of a One Eyed Sphinx,
Smerinthus cerisyi, in our archives.

Letter 240 – One-eyed Sphinx or Cerisy's Sphinx


What’s this Moth?
This is the largest moth I’ve ever seen. It’s 2.5 inches wing-tip to wing-tip and 2 inches in body length. I found it on my house on 7-2-06 in Olympia, WA and was wondering what it is. Any information would be appreciated.

Hi Steve,
This is the One Eyed Sphinx or Cerisy’s Sphinx, Smerinthus cerisyi. You can find information on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Letter 241 – One Eyed Sphinx or perhaps Saliset Sphinx


Cool Moth
I live near Los Angeles, CA and saw this fella laying some eggs on a tire of a car the other day and thought I would take some pictures of it. It was sitting totally still and I wanted to see if I could get a closer look. I decided to see if I could get it to spread its wings a little so I took a little twig and touched its wing. To my surprise it spread its wings and started dancing about. It showed these really cool markings on it’s inner wing that looked like big eyes. The inner wings were brightly colored compared to the rest of its brown body. It was sure cool to see. I wanted to see what kind of moth it was and stumbled across your site. I am hoping you will be able answer my question. Best Regards,

Hi Mike,
We believe this is a One Eyed Sphinx, Smerinthus cerisyi, sometimes called Cerisy’s Sphinx. This species is found in California, but we thought it was limited to the more northern parts of the state. Your moth also resembles the Salicet Sphinx, Smerinthus saliceti, which is found in San Diego county and points south. Our money is on the former, the One Eyed Sphinx, but the two moths look remarkable similar. We may try to contact Bill Oehlke to see if he has a definitive answer.

Letter 242 – One Eyed Sphinxes Mating


A bug love submission
I found these Cerisy’s Sphinxes(?) mating outside my door one day. They are absolutely beautiful.
Angel Dey of Genoa, NV

Hi Angel,
Cerisy’s Sphinxes, Smerinthus cerisyi, are also commonly called One Eyed Sphinxes.

Letter 243 – Pacific Green Sphinx


Now, for something a little different…!
Hi there, once again! Usually I’m sending you various odd bugs for ID but this time it’s a moth. I found this beautiful moth on my porch yesterday. Check out the green heart shapes on his wings — just in time for Valentine’s Day! I cannot find anything remotely like it anywhere in my internet searches. He’s rather on the large side, with much fuzz around his head and purple-ish shades under the green hearts of his wings. I nearly abandoned hope of finding an ID when I realized you have a "moths" page! I would be so honored to have a name for my lovely visitor! Thanks for all the hard work you do on your fantastic site!
Michelle Mahood
Shingletown, California

Hi Michelle,
We always love getting photos from you. Your beautiful moth is the Pacific Green Sphinx or Bear Sphinx, Arctonotus lucidus. It ranges along the Pacific coast, from southern California to British Colombia. It flies in the very early in the year, appearing from January to March. The caterpillar feeds on Evening Primrose. Here is a link to a site silkmoths.bizland that has more images including the complete metamorphosis.

Thank you SO much!!! No wonder I couldn’t find it; a Google image search turns up only three images of the Pacific Green Sphinx! I feel I’ve been treated to a rare and lovely sight and feel quite lucky to have run across him. If you’re ever looking for pictures of macroinvertebrates of the type trout enjoy, I have an album of such creatures at http://www.pbase.com/michellemahood/galleries — when not photographing crawling and flying creatures I am a flyfishing fanatic! Thanks again for your prompt and right-on ID…
Michelle Mahood

Letter 244 – Pacific Green Sphinx


I first saw a moth like this two nights ago under an outside light. Tonight there
were several of them. It is beautiful. Can you tell me what it is? By the way, I’m from the Sierra Foothills in California.
Rachel Oliver

Hi Rachel,
This is a Pacific Green Sphinx, Arctonotus lucidus. They fly from January to March, and you are lucky enough to have witnessed the event. More information can be found at this government site.

Letter 245 – Pacific Green Sphinx


What is This Moth? Hello, we found this beautiful emerald green moth outside our shop door yesterday morning. Have never seen anything like it. Can you tell us what kind of moth it is? Thanks,
We live in Northern, California East of Red Bluff.

Hi Charles,
The Pacific Green Sphinx, Arctonotus lucidus, also known as the Bear Sphinx, is sure a lovely moth. Like many moths, it is attracted to lights at night.

Letter 246 – Pacific Green Sphinx


Just wish to share some photos
Love your site! I have been here regularly. This is my first email though. I am a biologist, a science teacher, and an amateur photographer, and I would like to share some of my photos with you. The photos were taken in the goldcountry/foothills of California. Mostly oak woodlands and chapparal. I don’t know the species in the photos but do know one is a mantid and the other is a moth. Thank you again for such a wonderful site. Sincerely,

Hi Wildlifeguy,
We are especially interested in your photo of the lovely Pacific Green Sphinx, Arctonotus lucidus. It is also known as the Bear Sphinx and you can read more on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Letter 247 – BUG OF THE MONTH February 2010: Pacific Green Sphinx


camoflage green moth
January 27, 2010
Dear bugman,
My daughter found this moth in our living room. It is about an inch long. We see one of these every once in a while, but they are not common visitors to our porch light 😉 We can’t find it in any of our “bug books” and were wondering if you could help identify it for us.
Mariposa, CA

Pacific Green Sphinx

Hi Kristin,
This little beauty is Arctonotus lucidus, the Pacific Green Sphinx or Bear Sphinx.  According to Bill Oehlke’s excellent website:  “adults fly as a single brood from late January to March and nectar at flowers. Moths can be spotted much earlier (mid December) in more southerly locations (San Diego, California; Mexico) when weather conditions are right.
”  We don’t receive many reports and images of this gorgeous moth, but since the flight times are so limited, and there may be additional sightings in February, we believe we are going to select your image and letter as our Bug of the Month for February 2010.

Letter 248 – Pacific Green Sphinx


Green Moths
Location: Lyle (High Prairie), WA, elev. 1450 feet
January 28, 2011 2:03 am
This green moth appeared in my kitchen last night (the door was open for the dog). These pictures show several views of it. This morning another appeared. Friends think that it is a Pacific Green Sphinx Moth. Is it?
I do have a couple more photos if needed. Thank you,
Signature: Martha M. Hamil

Pacific Green Sphinx

Dear Martha,
You are quite correct.  This is a Pacific Green Sphinx,
Arctonotus lucidus, also called the Bear Sphinx.  You may read more about its habits on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on plants in the Evening Primrose Family, Onagraceae, such as Camissonia, Clarkia, and Oenothera.”  Though primrose has naturalized in the grounds of our Mt. Washington, Los Angeles offices, we have never been lucky enough to see a Pacific Green Sphinx.

Hello Daniel, I had never seen such a moth before in 72 years and now I’ve seen 3; they were unavoidable fluttering about in my house. I can see the larvae chomping away on the evening primrose roots (local farmers consider the evening primrose a noxious weed). The adults are another story; it’s mid-winter here with lows in the low thirties and upper twenties. Nothing seems to be blooming but maybe the adults do not need to servive very long.
My photos don’t do justice to the richness of color and striking appearance. I hope you get to see a Pacific Green Sphinx during the coming year and can admire it in person, Martha M. Hamil

Thanks for the update Martha.

Letter 249 – Pacific Green Sphinx


Pacific Green Sphinx Moth
Location: Mariposa, California
January 30, 2012 11:27 pm
Dear Bugman,
I took these photos of this beautiful green moth last night, and I found this site while attempting to identify him. He was in the garage, on a damp towel I needed to launder, so I coaxed him onto my hand and took some photos.
Signature: Laura Pound

Pacific Green Sphinx

Dear Laura,
Thanks so much for sending your photos of a lovely Pacific Green Sphinx,
Arctonotus lucidus, also known as the Bear Sphinx according to Bill Oehlke’s website, the Sphingidae of the Americas.  We are going to copy Bill on our response in the event he wants to include your sighting data in the comprehensive database he is keeping.  Winter sightings seem most common. 

Pacific Green Sphinx


Letter 250 – Pacific Green Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: What is this larve?
Location: Near Lyle, WA
April 25, 2016 6:38 pm
We found this along a trail in eastern Washington. It was as burrowing a hole in the dry dirt. I tickled its tail with a piece of grass and it turned around, half in and half out of the hole, as seen in the pic. About 3-4 inches long, as big around as my pinky finger.
Signature: Jerry

Pacific Green Sphinx Caterpillar
Pacific Green Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Jerry,
We are very excited to post your image of a Pacific Green Sphinx Caterpillar,
Arctonotus lucidus, which we identified on The Sphingidae of the Americas site.  Caterpillars of Sphinx Moths are usually easy to identify because they have a caudal horn, but some species lose the horn and only a caudal bump remains, and it is thought to afford some protection as it resembles an eye.  Though we have several images of adult Pacific Green Sphinx Moths on our site including this individual from Lyle, your caterpillar image is a first for us.  David Wikle is quoted on The Sphingidae of the Americas:  “and in the fifth [instar], the ‘eye of God’ is pasted on its arse and the horn is replaced by a raised area like Xylophanes or Eumorpha larvae.”  The larva is also pictured on BugGuide.  Since it was digging in the dirt, and it was quite large according to your description, we can deduce it was going underground in preparation for pupation.  We are going to copy Bill Oehlke as your image is so stunning, he may request permission to post it to his own site. 

Letter 251 – Parasitized White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar


Emailing: catty 002
I found this caterpillar on a county road in Colorado, I looked on the internet but have no idea of its origin, it also has weird white things that look like eggs on its body and the caterpillar seems irritated by them. Any help would be appreciated thanks!

Hi Decklyn,
The caterpillar is a White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles lineata, a common species in the desert as well as the rest of the U.S. This is a very wide ranging species. It has been parasitized. Brachonid Wasps are common parasites on Hormworms, the caterpillars of Sphinx Moths, but the pupa we are used to seeing on the Tomato Hornworms are much larger than those depicted in your image.

Letter 252 – Plebeian Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: Caterpillar
Location: Cape Cod, MA
July 16, 2016 3:14 pm
Just curious what this is. I’ve found a few of them this summer on the trumpet vines growing on my pergola.
Signature: Rick

Plebeian Sphinx Caterpillar
Plebeian Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Rick,
Had you not included the host plant trumpet vines, we might have had more difficulty identifying what we believe to be a Plebeian Sphinx Caterpillar,
Paratrea plegeja.  Our usual “go to” site for Sphinx Moth identifications, Sphingidae of the Americas, does not have images of the caterpillar.  Then we searched for the family and trumpet vine and we found the Maryland Insect site with a single image of the Plebeian Sphinx Caterpillar.  There are also images on BugGuide, but the caudal horn is blue and the one in your image looks black.  BugGuide lists the species as “uncommon” and lists the larval food plants as:  “Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans), Yellow Trumpetbush (Tecoma stans), passionflower (Passiflora spp.), and lilac (Syringa spp.).”   We have written to Bill Oehlke who runs Sphingidae of the Americas for confirmation and we hope you don’t mind if he posts your image to his site as well.  

Letter 253 – Plebian Sphinx Caterpillar


Plebeian Sphinx Moth Caterpillar
Since I don’t see these caterpillars in your database, I thought I would send you several so you have a choice which to use, if you want them.
This is a plebeian moth caterpillar that I found in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on trumpet creeper (campsis radicans). The interesting thing is that the caterpillar is prettier than the moth. I love the blue “horn” on it, and the startling lemon-green color of the moth’s upperside. Please feel free to use or discard if you wish.
Susan Johnston

Hi Susan,
We are going to trust that you have properly identified the Plebian Sphinx Caterpillar, Paratraea plebeja, because we doubt we would have said anymore than a generic Sphinx Caterpillar based on the photo. We didn’t locate much information online, but we did find this site.

Ed. Note:
August 30, 2009
In making some classification changes to our caterpillar archives, we realized we did not link to Bill Oehlke’s page on the Plebian Sphinx, Paratrea plebeja.

Letter 254 – Pluto Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: Unknown Caterpillar
Location: Tampa, Florida
January 22, 2013 1:35 pm
Hi Bugman,
I am trying to upload of a picture of a cool caterpillar that my friend took to a website called iNaturalists. I need to be able to identify it. I can not seem to find anything that looks remotely similar except swallowtail. If you could help me identify this bug I would be forever grateful.
Signature: Matthew Butner

Pluto Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Matthew,
Initially we thought this was a caterpillar of a Tersa Sphinx, but it was odd that the row of eyespots typically found along the body was absent.  As we did additional research, we realized this is most likely a closely related species in the same genus, the Pluto Sphinx,
Xylophanes pluto.  You can see a similar looking caterpillar on BugGuide.  Also according to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on Milkberry (Chiococca species), Hamelia patens, and Erythroxylon species.”

Letter 255 – Pluto Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: Caterpillar
Location: Hollywood, fl
November 30, 2016 3:15 pm
What type of catetpillar is this
Signature: Dave

Pluto Sphinx Caterpillar
Pluto Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Dave,
Your Caterpillar is the Hornworm of a Pluto Sphinx,
Xylophanes pluto, and according to the Sphingidae of the Americas site:  “There are three known colour morphs: green, brown, and purple/brown. The false eyes are rather striking in this purple/brown form.  Larvae feed beginning at dusk and through the night, hiding during the day at the base of their host plant or in nearby surrounding vegetation. The caterpillars usually either consume entire leaves or half of a leaf.”

Letter 256 – Pluto Sphinx Caterpillars


Caterpillar ID
Found this caterpillar on a vine on my porch in south florida. I think its some kind of sphinx moth. Need your help in identification.

Hi Matt,
We are excited by your photographs which we believe represents a new species for our site, though a true expert might contest our findings. We thought your caterpillars bore a superficial resemblance to the Tersa Sphinx, Xylophanes tersa, so we searched for near relatives in the same genus in Florida. We love Bill Oehlke’s site for Sphinx Moths. We located Xylophanes pluto, which we believe looks similar enough to your caterpillar to be a positive ID. There is no common name for this moth listed, so we are going to dub it the Pluto Sphinx. The near relative, the Tersa Sphinx has three recognized color morphs for the caterpillar, including green.

Letter 257 – Possibly Alope Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: big caterpillar
Location: Gulfport, Florida 33707 USA
December 11, 2014 7:45 am
Thanks for taking the time to look at my bug request. I saw it in pinellas county Florida on 12/9/14 at 7pm. It was crawling up a Papaya tree and I have never seen one like this before. Wondering if it’s a “good” or “bad” bug, especially for my Papaya. Thanks again
Signature: not sure what this means

Possibly Alope Sphinx Caterpillar
Possibly Alope Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear not sure what this means,
This is a Hornworm, a Sphinx Moth Caterpillar in the genus
Erynnyis, probably the brown form of Erynnyis alope which is pictured on the Sphingidae of the Americas site.  The Pinellas County, Florida Sphingidae Larva page pictures that species at the top, but identifies three members of the genus, Erinnyis ello and Erinnyis obscura in addition to Erynnis alope, that feed on the leaves of Papaya.  All three species have similar looking caterpillars and we cannot determine the exact species based on your image.  Though they feed on the leaves of Papaya, the caterpillars are never present in numbers significant to do any damage, so we do not consider them to be a threat to your papaya tree nor its fruit.

Letter 258 – Possibly Banded Sphinx Caterpillar


What am I?
Hi! Maybe you can help me. I found this caterpillar roaming around my patio this morning. I’ve tried looking online for something that looks like him, and the only thing I can find is the Abbot’s Sphinx Caterpillar, Sphecodina abbotti. I didn’t find a picture that looked like this one, but the description sure does match. I live in California, and have a grape vine in our back yard. Don’t know if that’s where the caterpillar was heading, but it sure was on the move. I also have fruit trees in my yard. Should I be worried??? Thanks so much for any information you can provide!

Hi Jenny,
We really wanted to get an answer for you to find out if you are related to our former student, the wonderful photographer Anita. We believe this is a Banded Sphinx Caterpillar, Eumorpha fasciatus. It is a highly variable caterpillar. Bill Oehlke’s fabulous page does not have a color match, but BugGuide has a very similar looking specimen. Grape is a host food plant.

Letter 259 – Possibly Ficus Sphinx relative


unknown larvae
Attached is a JPEG of a larvae, family Sphingidae I’m pretty sure, taken from a dying date palm in Melbourne, FL over the weekend just past. I’m unable to i.d. this critter and have been a lepidopterist most of my entire 55 years on this planet. The ag center people are stumped also. The palm itself was shot full of holes created by white grubs (maybe palm weevil larvae?). For all I know the white graubs are an earlier instar of the green guy whose photo is attached. At any rate I’m really curious to know what I have here and intend to try and raise the larvae to adulthood. I’m setting out now for some date palm fronds. Hope to hear back from you.
Best Regards & Merry Christmas,
Jim Culberson

Wow Jim,
We can’t believe a lepidopterist is actually coming to us for advice. We are not positive, but we believe this to be the larva of a Ficus or Fig Sphinx, Pachylia ficus. Is there a Ficus tree near the palm? The larvae of the Fig Sphinx have at least 4 different color morphs, and this one is different from all we have seen. I can’t wait to get home from work to do additional research and to post it to the site. If you do any additional web research and can substantiate our suspicions, please let us know.
Daniel and Lisa Anne

Hi Daniel and Lisa Anne, Thanks very much for your email. Nope, no ficus trees anywhere near the date palm, Phoenix canariensis, that the larvae was found on. I should say found in since the man who cut the dying palm down found dozens of the larvae in the fibrous material at the base of the fronds. The fronds were stripped I’m told. I would bet by this species of Sphingid larvae. If this thing turns out to be an exotic species Florida could have a real problem on its hands. I hope that y`all have better luck than I in identifying the creature. It is ensconced now in my larvae raising container, a terrarium with a sreen lid, with a large piece of date palm frond. It hasn’t started chomping on the date palm frond yet though. I am an amateur lepidopterist in that it isn’t my profession. I raise various species in my yard, have been all over the world collecting specimens, take photos mostly now since I’ve collected just about all the U.S. species. My undergraduate degree was in marine biology and graduate work in coral reef ecology, all back in the early seventies. I own a publishing business and an ad agency. No work for marine biologists back in the seventies.
Best Regards,
Jim Culberson

Hi again Jim,
We really want to get to the bottom of this. Please keep us updated and we would love to have a photo of the adult if it survives. We still think this must be one of the Dilophonotini tribe and believe the answer can be found on Bill Oehlke’s wonderful site.

Letter 260 – Hermit Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: Lime Hawkmoth caterpillar in Pennsylvania
Location: Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
August 9, 2016 6:53 am
I found this caterpillar in Pittsburgh. I believe it may be a Lime Hawk moth? Can someone confirm from the photos?
Signature: Janet Hafer

Probably Hermit Sphinx Caterpillar
Hermit Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Janet,
Though your caterpillar bears a family resemblance to the Lime Hawkmoth Caterpillar, which we found pictured on Nature Spot, the Lime Hawkmoth is an Old World species not found in Pennsylvania, though we did report one rogue sighting several years ago of an adult Lime Hawkmoth in Pennsylvania.  Though your image is quite blurry, it does show a few interesting diagnostic features, including a protrusion on the head and a strong diagonal stripe leading to the caudal horn, which causes us to speculate that this might be the caterpillar of a Hermit Sphinx,
Lintneria eremitus, based on one image of a green individual posted to the Sphingidae of the Americas, but you need to scroll down the page to see it.  Hermit Sphinx caterpillars ” feed on mint family, Lamiaceae: Bee-balm, Monarda, mints, Mentha, sage, Salvia” according to BugGuide.  Can you please confirm the plant upon which it was found?  Here is a BugGuide image that also looks quite similar to your caterpillar.

Bill Oehlke confirms
Yes, it is eremitus.

Thank you for the response. The Hermit Sphinx makes more sense. Sorry the photos are blurry, I don’t have a good camera at work.
I’m not sure what plant it was on as I found it on my pants leg this morning at work.  I think I found an Elm leave but it doesn’t seem to want to feed.  I will have access to mint this evening, so I will see if it likes that.
Thanks again,

Letter 261 – Northern Ash Sphinx, early instar


Orange-Red Caterpillar with horn
September 7, 2009
We found this in the yard today. I believe it is some type of Hornworm, but I can’t find any hornworms that are orange or red. It is currently munching on the leaf from an Ash tree.
Carrin W.
SE Michigan

Northern Ash Sphinx Caterpillar:  early instar we believe
Northern Ash Sphinx Caterpillar: early instar

Dear Carrin,
Based on the food plant you indicated, we are guessing that this might be the caterpillar of the Northern Ash Sphinx, Sphinx chersis.  It is an early instar, meaning its appearance can change greatly.  Bill Oehlke’s Northern Ash Sphinx page does not show early instar larvae.  We will copy Bill Oehlke on this response to see if he can clarify the species.

I think you might be correct!  I look forward to Bill’s response.

Yes it is the ash sphinx which can be quite red or green in various instars. Edna Bottorff of Oregon, recently sent me images of earlier instars showing red and green forms and I will post them shortly.
Bill Oehlke

Letter 262 – Possibly Waved Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: Beautiful Green Wormy
Location: Georgia, USA
August 27, 2016 2:59 am
3 inch worm/caterpillar
Aug. 25, 2016
I left the back door open & this little guy wandered into my house . I’m just wondering what it is . I’ve never seen anything like it before. Its green with some light reddish, orangeish or brownish color all along its back. it has 1 very tiny tail . its about 3 – 3 1/2 inches long and a little thicker then a cigarette .
Signature: Suni S.

Possibly Waved Sphinx Caterpillar
Possibly Waved Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Suni,
There is not much critical detail in your image, so we cannot be certain of the species, but this is a Hornworm in the family Sphingidae.  We believe it is most likely the Caterpillar of a Waved Sphinx,
Ceratomia undulosa, and according to the Sphingidae of the Americas site:  “Just prior to pupation, larvae frequently take on a rosy hue.”  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed preferentially on leaves of ash (Fraxinus spp.), especially Green Ash (F. pennsylvanica) in Canada, but also feed on fringetree (Chionanthus spp.), hawthorn (Crataegus), lilac (Syringa), oak (Quercus), privet (Ligustrum), and other woody plants.”  Do any of those plants grow near where you made this sighting?

Letter 263 – Pre-Pupal Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: Horny catipiller
Location: North Carolina coast
October 7, 2014 3:33 pm
What is this my daughter found it and was playing with it
Signature: Ryan

Pre-Pupal Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar
Pre-Pupal Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Ryan,
This is a Pre-Pupal Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar, and though they feed on other plants, they are especially fond of Pentas, so we suspect there are some growning nearby.  This individual is likely searching for a good place to dig beneath the surface so it can pupate.  See BugGuide images of the metamorphosis of a Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar.

Letter 264 – Probably Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: caterpillar/worm
Location: Colfax Ca USA ( Nor Cal, upper foothills of Sierra Nevada Mountain range
August 15, 2015 10:59 pm
Found this guy on our back porch two days in a row. Its sunmer time.He’s about 3 in long. As big around as an average persons pointer finger. Has texture like an oak worm. And this one creepy eye.Seems like some sort of caterpillar. In picture hes hanging over a piece of lattice. Only about 1/3 of his body showing. Any info would be greatly appreciated
Signature: thank you- Walker-Costanzo Family

Probably "tail end" of an Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar
Probably “tail end” of an Achemon Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Walker-Costanzo Family,
We are certain that this is a Caterpillar in the Sphingidae family, and it is most likely in the genus
Eumorpha.  Caterpillars in the family are typically called Hornworms because they have a caudal horn, but the genus Eumorpha is unusual because when the caterpillars mature, they shed the horn, and all that remains is a caudal bump that often resembles an eye.  According to BugGuide, the only member of the genus reported in California is the Achemon Sphinx, and the complete Achemon Sphinx caterpillar looks close enough to your “tail end” view that we are relatively confident the identification is correct, however, three other species in the genus are reported in nearby Arizona.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on leaves of grape (Vitis), Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus), Ampelopsis and related vining plants.”  Was there a grape vine near the sighting?

Letter 265 – probably Blinded Sphinx Caterpillar


Is this a Sphynx Moth Caterpiller??
Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 3:55 PM
Hello Mr Bugman;
First I Love your site, I cannot tell you how many “Bugs” you have helped me identify in my digital adventures. My husband laughs everytime I show him the new picture of an insect and run in to look up what it is on this site. Anyway I came across this Caterpiller and the closest I come to is the Blinded Sphynx Moth caterpiller but I am not sure. He was on a moss covered growth on a dead either Elm or Ash tree in the woods. I live in Southeastern Ohio approx. 45 miles west of Wheeling W.V. I would greatly appreciate it if you could help me put a name to him. I hope these photos are clear enough to make a identification. Thank you so much for your site
Debby Hill
Southeast Ohio

Blinded Sphinx Caterpillar
Blinded Sphinx Caterpillar

hi Debby,
Since our first response to you, we have continued to research, and we believe you are correct in identifying this as a Blinded Sphinx, Paonias excaecatus.  Bill Oehlke’s excellent website does not show this color variation, but it is well documented on BugGuide. We wish your artful photo also depicted the creature’s head.

Letter 266 – Probably One Eyed Sphinx


Subject: Hawk-eyed moth CA look a like?
Location: Near the coast in Southern California (Malibu maybe??)
July 2, 2016 5:00 pm
Hello bugman!
Let me first say that I’ve followed this website for years and it’s always gotten me what I needed 🙂 I am a California native but am living overseas currently, and a friend sent me this photo of this beautiful moth!! Apparently it lost a fight with a yellow jacket so picked up the body, not entirely sure where in southern California they were. They’re OK with calling it “the moth” but I want to know more! I did a quick search and it seems to have the same sort of eyespots as the Hawk Eyed Moth but the abdomen is different and I’m not sure if they’re found in Southern California. They may have been near the coast, as well? Let me know what you can find… Thanks! 🙂
Signature: Noelani

One Eyed Sphinx
One Eyed Sphinx

Dear Noelani,
Thanks so much for the compliment.  We believe this is a One Eyed Sphinx, Smerinthus cerisyi, which according to The Sphingidae of the Americas site is found in “the southern regions of all Canadian provinces (all of B. C. and Alberta) and in northern border states south into northern Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio. The One-eyed Sphinx is also found along the U.S. west coast to southern California, eastward to the Rockies and into western New Mexico north to western North Dakota. Specimens have also been taken in Illinois and as far south as Missouri in central U.S.”  We would not want to rule out that it might be the closely related Smerinthus ophthalmica, and according to the Sphingidae of the Americas:  “Smerinthus ophthalmica, (forewing length: 34-47mm) closely resembles Smerinthus cerisyi, and until recently (2010) had been synonymized with cerisyi.”

Hi Daniel,
Wow, thanks so much for the fast reply! I’ve sent it to my mates now… Thanks again for your expertise 🙂 also, does your site accept donations? I would love to help how I can if you need it

You are most welcome.  There is a donation link above our name on the home page.

Letter 267 – Probably Rustic Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject:  What kind of caterpillar?
Geographic location of the bug:  Tucson, AZ
Date: 02/12/2020
Time: 08:21 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this giant caterpillar near my garage in October.  I’ve never seen one so big. What is it?
How you want your letter signed:  Erica

Pre-pupal Rustic Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Erica,
We believe your Hornworm is a pre-pupal Rustic Sphinx Caterpillar,
Manduca rustica, based on images on the Sphingidae of the Americas and BugGuide.

Letter 268 – Recently Eclosed Carolina Sphinx


Subject: flightless moth in back yard
Location: Norfolk, VA
July 5, 2013 1:51 pm
Hello, just curious about this moth. It was about 8cm long and seemed to be walking across my back yard. I had a hard time identifying it so far and I hoped you could help!
Thanks for your time.
Signature: aaron

Carolina Sphinx:  Recently Eclosed
Carolina Sphinx: Recently Eclosed

Dear Aaron,
This is a recently eclosed Carolina Sphinx, Manduca sexta, and its wings haven’t expanded.  The caterpillars feed on the leaves of tomato and other plants and they burrow underground to pupate.  Upon emergence, they dig to the surface and find a safe place where their wings can expand and harden, enabling the moths to fly.  You may read more about the Carolina Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Wow! Thanks so much for responding, so cool!

Letter 269 – Salicet Sphinx


Moth ID
I love your site- I found this moth right outside my back door- sunning himself. By dark he was gone. Can you give me an ID on this guy? He was really BIG!! I was creeped out !
Don, in San Diego, CA

Hi Don,
This is very exciting. We believe this is the Salicet Sphinx, Smerinthus saliceti. Not only is it a new species for our site, it is a live specimen not represented on Bill Oehlke’s awesome website. His website states the Salicet Sphinx “flies in valleys and along streamsides from Mexico City north to west Texas, southern Arizona, and extreme southern California” and that the caterpillars feed on the leaves of willow and poplar. We are going to contact Bill Oehlke to confirm the identification and we hope you will give him permission to post your gorgeous, high quality photos and also provide him with additional information.

Salicet Sphinx Moth ID
Hi Daniel! Wow, this is exciting. I have lived here in Encinitas for 32 years and Never seen a Sphinx Moth like this one… I had a feeling it was unusual. I live very close to the San Elijo Lagoon and the Manchester Preserve (open natural space surrounding the lagoon). Because of this, I see a lot of cool birds, insects , racoons, etc. Thank you for identifying it for me and I am only too happy to share my photos with all. I see it is up on your website already!! I’m thrilled and very lucky to have had my Olympus 8MP camera at hand when I found him. Thanks again, keep up the great work on your website, and I look forward to hearing from Bill. …
Don Doerfler

Letter 270 – One Eyed Sphinx, probably


Location: Los Angeles, CA
April 14, 2011 5:09 pm
This Moth appeared on my window screen in Los Angeles yesterday. Is now mating with a second. It is about 3 inches wing tip to wing tip.
What Kind of Moth?
Shoudl I be concerned with moth babies?
Signature: Dan

One Eyed Sphinx

Dear Dan,
We believe this is a Salicet Sphinx,
Smerinthus saliceti, based on the Sphingidae of the Americas website, though we would not rule out the possibility that it is the closely related One Eyed Sphinx, Smerinthus cerisyi.  You have nothing to be concerned about.  Immature Moths are caterpillars.  We are actually a bit envious as we have never seen either species at our Mt. Washington, Los Angeles offices.  The related Striped Morning Sphinx and Carolina Sphinx are the only aerodynamic Hawkmoths that visit our own porch light.  We will see if Bill Oehlke can confirm our identification.  He may request additional information on the sighting location to include in his database of Sphingidae sightings in North America.

Bill Oehlke Replies
Hi Daniel,
There is very little to separate saliceti from cerisyi. Even the diagnostic feature that some use with the hindwing eyespot is not 100 percent consistent.
Generally saliceti is more of an orangey-brown to brown species while cerisyi is more grey brown to brown. The specimen in question seems to have quite a bit of grey so I am leaning towards cerisyi for that reason. I also feel the location is a bit too far north and west in California for it to be saliceti.
Although Tuttle maintains a distinction between the two species, he indicates that further research may prove them to just be variations of the same species.
I will send a copy of this to Dan in Los Angeles County, and will also request a larger image and permission to post.
Bill Oehlke

Bill and Daniel,
Great feedback from you both.  Thank you.
From the websites you shared I am 95% sure it is the cerisyi.  It was very grey…like old paper.  I have a large willow in my yard with the branches hanging down right by the window where it showed up.  As I mentioned there were 2 mating and they attached motionless for 12-24 hours.  They were gone this morning so no chance for a picture of them both together.  I am aware baby moths are caterpillars.  I am concerned that the larvae and then caterpillars may take to feasting on my willow tree.  If I see a large group of eggs, I will let you know.
Here are a couple more shots.  It is with my blackberry camera so apologies for the lack of quality.  You have permission to post.  The one with the ruler is fro the inside of the house.  the perspective is off, it was bigger than what it shows as the tape measure was closer to the camera.  I also include the original shot here.
Dan Yokich

Thanks for the additional information Dan.  We can’t imagine the caterpillars doing any lasting harm to your willow tree.  We would implore you to allow the caterpillars to feast should they happen to hatch on your tree.

Understood. We had a issue with butterflies laying thousands of eggs on 10 to 15 boughs. It was a mess with black caterpillars falling down and stripping long lengths of branches.
This sounds much different with just a few eggs here and there.
We will let them feast.

Since your tree is a willow, we expect the butterfly that laid eggs on your tree was a Mourning Cloak.

Letter 271 – Satellite Sphinx


What moth is this??
I was outside yesterday doing some stuff, when a leaf fell on me…well…I thought it was a leaf…I tried brushing it off of my flower decorated pants…it didn’t budge…still thinking this was a leaf, I picked it up, and realized within a mili-second that this was no ordinary leaf!! I am surprised that none of you heard the scream sent round the world…it was slimey and I have NO idea what this thing was…it looked like it was wearing military camouflage which is probably why it was attracted to my pants…trying to blend in, the slimy little bugger!! After coming into the house, shaking my hand, and going ‘ew ew ew ew ew ew ew’ the whole time, poor Jim got another earful about Florida bugs, and how in Philly bugs did NOT dress up in military fatigues to fool people like me~ I never had a prob with bugs…but I think the ones down here must’ve attatched themselves to the space shuttle when they were flying around in space, and fell off over Jacksonville! ACK!! It’s not a butterfly..it looks more like a Navy jet fighter!
Here’s some pics of this lovely creature..(NOT).. Do you have ANY idea what this thing is??
Valarie Weigle

Hi Valarie
We are so sorry you were traumatized by your encounter with a Satellite Sphinx, Pholus satellitia, a color variation of the Pandora Sphinx. According to Holland: “This insect which is widely distributed throughout the eastern United States, and ranges northward into southern Canada, is well-known to all growers of vines.” The caterpillar, a hornworm, can do damage to the vineyard. I have no idea what the origin of the common name Satellite Sphinx refers to, but I like your theory about being dropped from space.

Letter 272 – Satellite Sphinx


Looked like a leaf
Found this bug sitting on the side of our building. At first, I just thought it was a leaf. Then I realized it wasn’t . Very nice disguise. Hope the pictures are clear enough to identify it.
Ellen Bouse

Hi Ellen,
The Satellite Sphinx, Pholus satellitia, has a form Pholus pandorus, which is your moth. According to Holland: “This insect which is widely distributed throughout the eastern United States, and ranges northward into southern Canada, is well-known to all growers of vines.” The caterpillar, a hornworm, can do damage to the vineyard.

Letter 273 – Satellite Sphinx from Mexico


Subject:  Satellite Sphinx of Mexico?
Geographic location of the bug:  Tamaulipas, Mexico
Date: 04/22/2018
Time: 05:57 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi there,
My parents just sent me this photo of what I think is a Satellite Sphinx, taken outside their residence in Tamaulipas, Mexico. It’s markings are gorgeous and resemble some of the photos I’ve seen you post of Eumorpha Satellita, but I also spot some differences, like the dark brown, triangular patches behind its head. Am I on the right track with identifying it as the Satellite Sphinx?
How you want your letter signed:  H. Oakes

Satellite Sphinx

Dear H. Oakes,
We agree with you that this looks like a Satellite Sphinx, and its markings look almost exactly those of the individual in this BugGuide posting.  There are also images on Sphingidae of the Americas.  There are 11
Eumorpha species reported as ranging in Mexico on Sphingidae of the Americas, and some look similar, but in our opinion, the Satellite Sphinx is the closest visual match.

Letter 274 – Snowberry Sphinx Moth


Subject: moth
Location: redding, CA
June 27, 2014 12:13 pm
found it outside our house in the AM today (with the flowers in his curl). so… which of the many California moths is this one. tried to look it up but other photos of similar moths kinda gave me that Wal-Mart headache you get from too much input.
Signature: RipleyMM

Snowberry Sphinx
Snowberry Sphinx

Dear RipleyMM,
We are amused at your visual overdose comparison to shopping at big stores.  We believe we have correctly identified your Snowberry Sphinx as
 Sphinx vashti thanks to the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  The only other example of the Snowberry Sphinx on our site was posted in 2008.

Snowberry Sphinx
Snowberry Sphinx


Letter 275 – Southern Pine Sphinx


A pine-tree-loving sphinx caterpillar?
Just found your site today–it’s brilliant! This little guy came down with a bunch of pine branches courtesy of tropical storm Fay when it swept past Jacksonville, Florida. After glancing through your caterpillar pages, I’d guess it’s some sort of sphinx caterpillar. We have lots of lantana in our yard so we see quite a few butterflies and moths– wonder if this guy likes lantana, too. Do you recognize him? Thanks for your help.
Anne Craig

Hi Anne,
Your caterpillar is a Southern Pine Sphinx, Lapara coniferarum. According to Bill Oehlke’s wonderful website, “Larvae feed upon various pine species, including loblolly pine ( Pinus taeda ) and longleaf pine ( P. pinaster )” but there is no mention of lantana. As Sphinx caterpillars go, the Southern Pine Sphinx is unusual in that it is lacking in the caudal horn.

Letter 276 – Sphinx Caterpillar: Eumorpha achemon


big white colorado caterpillar
Location:  fort collins, colorado
September 18, 2010 11:49 am
We found this rather large caterpillar half buried in sand. Both ends of him look like heads, but i believe that his head is the flat end. I couldn’t find him on your website, and we were wondering what he is. He is about three inches long.
Signature:  Thank you, Patrick

Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Patrick,
We have tentatively identified your caterpillar as one of two possible species in the genus
Eumorpha.  BugGuide has a photo that looks nearly identical, and it is identified as the Typhon Sphinx, Eumorpha typhon, but Bill Oehlke’s excellent Sphingidae website does not list the species in Colorado, though it is found in Arizona.  We needed to verify the location of Fort Collins on a map to see how close it is to Arizona, and we discovered is is in the north, not the southwest corner which would more thoroughly support our identification since insects really tend to ignore state and national borders.  The similar looking caterpillar of the Achemon Sphinx, Eumorpha achemon, is found in Colorado according to Bill Oehlke’s Sphingidae of the Americas website, and this species has a greater range.  So, though logic tells us that this must be the caterpillar of the Achemon Sphinx, we cannot totally disregard that it may be the Typhon Sphinx without contacting Bill Oehlke, so we are copying him to get his opinion.

It is Eumorpha achemon which is the only Eumorpha in North America that has the side panels appearing as if they are twisted dough (i.e. segmented but still continuous).
I will ask Patrick for a larger image and permission to post it to a webpage.
Bill Oehlke

Letter 277 – Sphinx Moth from British Columbia: Smerinthus ophthalmica


Subject: moth identification
Location: ear Halfmoon Bay on the Sunshine Coast in BC
July 19, 2014 2:26 pm
Hi There. This moth came to visit us one evening in late June. It was quite beautiful! About 7 cm across from wing tip to wing tip. Can you tell us what it is?
Thank you
Signature: Jackie

Sphinx Moth:  Smerinthus ophthalmica
Sphinx Moth: Smerinthus ophthalmica

Hi Jackie,
We confirmed the identity of your Sphinx Moth as
Smerinthus ophthalmica thanks to the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  Alas, you moth does not have a common name, though Sphinx Moth and Hawkmoth are names to describe the members of the family.  According to Pacific Northwest Moths:  “They are nocturnal and come to light.  This species is common at porch lights.  The mouthparts are reduced and the moths do not feed as adults.”

Letter 278 – Sphinx Moth: Smerinthus ophthalmica


Subject: Moth
Location: Fernbridge/ Loleta CA
July 12, 2016 9:41 am
I was a t a gas station and it was windy and when I got out of the car a moth was on the ground on its back. It was pretty and as I was going to pick it up, I put my finger down and it grabbed my finger. I put it on a wall but its little wing was out of wack and it couldn’t fly.
I brought it home and took pictures then put it out side in a plant pot to live.
I looked it up but couldn’t find one like it.
Signature: Darlene

Smerinthus ophthalmica
Smerinthus ophthalmica

Dear Darlene,
This is a Sphinx Moth in the genus
Smerinthus and based on the Sphingidae of California, there are three species in the genus, but Smerinthus saliceti is limited to extreme Southern California.  The Sphingidae of California also states:  “Moths previously listed as S. cerisyi, west of the Continental Divide, are more likely S. ophthalmica” which implies that your species is Smerinthus ophthalmica.  Sadly, your lovely moth has no common name.  According to Sphingidae of America:  “S. ophthalmica flies across southern British Columbia and southern Alberta into southwestern Saskatchewan. In the United States it can be found in Washington, Oregon and northern and central California eastward into Idaho, western Montana, western Wyoming and northern Nevada and northern Utah.”  Unfortunately, this moth will not be able to fly in its current condition, and its dislocated wing needs to be adjusted so the underwing is oriented correctly.  We are tagging this posting with the Bug Humanitarian Award because of the care you gave this injured moth.

Smerinthus ophthalmica
Smerinthus ophthalmica

Thank you so much for letting me know about my moth. Unfortunately it has passed away but is still in beautiful condition. I wasn’t able to fix it’s wing until after it had died.
It is sad that it couldn’t continue on.
Thanks again for being out there to identify bugs.

Letter 279 – Sphinx Moth: Xylophanes pluto


Anyone know what this pretty bug is?
Location: South Florida
November 30, 2011 2:09 pm
This bug was in our backyard. It caught my attention because it seemed to be having problems flying. I video taped it walking in circles ”dragging” it’s butt. When my Black Lab went to check it out it did fly a little but never went up in the air. It then just kept fluttering it’s wings like a warning for my Lab to go away. FYI .. My Lab didn’t hurt it. 🙂
Signature: Donna

Xylophanes pluto

Dear Donna,
We are so sorry for the delay.  Though we are posting your letter quite late, we are thrilled to be able to include it in our archive which prior to your letter had only one photo of this moth.  This is a Sphinx Moth,
Xylophanes pluto, a lovely moth that is found in Florida and South Texas and tropical countries to the south according to the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  Thank you for including a side view that shows the yellow coloration on the underside of the body.  We are copying Bill Oehlke on our response and he may request additional information from you for the comprehensive database he has compiled on Sphinx Moths in North America.  We suspect this is a newly metamorphosed individual that recently emerged from its underground pupa.  It might have been waiting for its wings to fully expand, dry and harden before embarking on its maiden flight.

Xylophanes pluto

Letter 280 – Streaked Sphinx


Moth (sphinx?) Bradenton FL April 2006
We found this moth on the outside window of a restaurant in an outdoor mall in Bradenton FL in April- very cooperative for photos- tawny topside- quite bright orangeish on bottom and body- we moved him/her to my friend’s butterfly garden- asphalt and glass didn’t seem appropriate for her. any ideas? thanks
Karen, Massachusetts

Hi Karen,
This is a Streaked Sphinx, Protambulyx strigilis strigilis, a tropical species that ranges to Florida.

Letter 281 – Streaked Sphinx


Subject:  Streaked Sphinx Moth?
Geographic location of the bug:  Sarasota FL
Date: 04/11/2021
Time: 11:37 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I think this is a Streaked Sphinx Moth.
How you want your letter signed:  Steven T.

Streaked Sphinx

Dear Steven,
You are correct that this is a Streaked Sphinx, a species that appears to be more common in Florida in recent years.  According to Butterflies and Moths of North America:  “Flight: July in Florida” which makes your individual a bit early.

Letter 282 – Streaked Sphinx


Sphinx moth?
Location: Sarasota, Florida
December 17, 2011 1:03 pm
Can you identify which species this 3 to 4 inch wingspan moth is?
Signature: John

Streaked Sphinx

Dear John,
We just learned on the Sphingidae of the Americas website that the common name for your moth,
Protambulyx strigilis strigilis, is the Streaked Sphinx.  We are going to copy Bill Oehlke on our response as he may want to include your sighting data on his website since it is indicated that December sightings in Florida are not common.

Hi Daniel,

Thank you very much for the identification and the website!


Letter 283 – Streaked Sphinx


Subject: Sphinx Moth
Location: Pasco County, Florida
October 5, 2013 5:15 am
Found this moth in the laundry room. Around 3-4AM.
Signature: Jamie

Streaked Sphinx
Streaked Sphinx

Hi Jamie,
In February of this year, we featured a nearly identical photo of a Streaked Sphinx,
Protambulyx strigilis, as our Bug of the Month.  Your other Sphinx is a Tersa Sphinx.

Letter 284 – Streaked Sphinx


Subject: Cool moth
Location: South Florida (Miami)
December 1, 2013 9:12 am
I would like to know what kind of moth this is, I found it sitting outside on a leaf near my oak trees.
Signature: Jessica

Streaked Sphinx
Streaked Sphinx

Hi Jessica,
This beautiful and very streamlined moth is a Streaked Sphinx,
Protambulyx strigilis, and you can read more about this species on Sphingidae of the Americas.  It seems Florida sightings are getting more and more common, and this might be a direct effect of global warming.

Streaked Sphinx
Streaked Sphinx

Letter 285 – Streaked Sphinx


Subject: Moth
Location: Vero Beach Fl.
December 10, 2013 7:29 pm
Have seen two of these here in the last couple weeks.Are they rare.New to Florida so I’am seeing new things everyday.
Signature: Al

Streaked Sphinx
Streaked Sphinx

Dear Al,
Several years ago we would have claimed that sightings of the tropical Streaked Sphinx were relatively rare in Florida, but in recent years, perhaps due to global warming, sightings are becoming increasingly more frequent.

Letter 286 – Streaked Sphinx


Subject: Lovely Moth!
Location: Miami, FL
January 26, 2015 3:22 pm
I hope you can help me identify this lovely little moth. I have spent a couple of hours searching until I found your site. I have looked through the pages of Sphinx moths and can not seem to match the markings to the one I found. I have never seen any kind of Sphinx moth inperson being in the city and was so intrigued at how amazing these moths look. I started a backyard garden and have discovered all kinds of interesting bugs. This one quite a beautiful creature indeed!
Signature: Kristi

Streaked Sphinx
Streaked Sphinx

Dear Kristi,
Your moth is a Streaked Sphinx,
Protambulyx strigilis, one of the most streamlined and aerodynamic looking species in a family that is characterized by those physical features.  The Streaked Sphinx is a neotropical species that frequently strays north to Florida, perhaps due to global warming.  You can read more about the Streaked Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas site.

Thanks so much! I was not expecting but hoping for a response. You guys are awesome. Appreciate it! Have a great weekend

Letter 287 – Streaked Sphinx


Subject:  Brown Moth
Location:  Cape Coral, Florida
Mon, Sep 21, 2015 8:37 am
This moth looks like he was carved our of mahogany wood – is it a
type of Spinx moth?  It was about  1.5 – 2 inches long
I have found out that it is a Streaked Sphinx moth.
Here is a picture  It was on our wall in Cape Coral, Florida

Streaked Sphinx
Streaked Sphinx

Hi Bonnie,
We are happy to learn that you identified your Streaked Sphinx,
Protambulyx strigilis, before we had a chance to respond.

Letter 288 – Streaked Sphinx


Subject:  What kind of moth/butterfly ?
Geographic location of the bug:  Cuba, Cayo Coco
Date: 10/08/2019
Time: 12:16 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, I’ve searched as much as possible but I really cannot find anything on this kind of moth. It doesn’t look like it has antennas so I would assume it’s more of a moth than a butterfly. It has a very specific wings shaped like the “helicopter seed” and they really looks like leaves, a nice camouflage. It was found hanging on a wall, early afternoon on the island of Cuba at the start of October.
How you want your letter signed:  Phil

Streaked Sphinx

Dear Phil,
This is a Streaked Sphinx,
Protambulyx strigilis, and we identified it on Sphingidae of the Americas where it states that it:  “flies in tropical and subtropical lowlands from Florida and throughout Central America.”

Letter 289 – Streaked Sphinx from Brazil


interesting "butterfly"
I found this "butterfly" on the door of our apartment in Brasilia, Brazil. When it flew it flew very well. I’d like to know it’s name and habitat. Thanks for a great website and wonderful information.

Hi Teimoso,
This is not a butterfly. It is a Sphinx Moth, the Streaked Sphinx, Protambulyx strigilis strigilis. This is a tropical moth that is sometimes found in Florida, and ranges from Central America to Argentina, including the West Indies. You can find additional information on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Letter 290 – Streaked Sphinx Moth: Protambulyx strigilis


Subject: Cool Brown Moth
Location: Merritt Island and Melbourne, FL
January 29, 2017 1:41 pm
Hello Bugman, I live in Brevard County Florida. It’s winter time here in Florida do about 70 degrees. I’ve seen this moth in two different areas of the county in which I live. Two of the pictures were take outside of my apartment door in Merritt Island, FL. The moth was there for about three days before a storm came and he flew away. Two days later I saw the same type of moth on the ground outside of my work place in Melbourne, FL. I think he followed me to work hahaha!! I think he’s an Achemon Sphinx? Looks similar to those pictures. I would love to know for sure!! Thank you so much!
Signature: Elizabeth Merritt

Streaked Sphinx Moth: Protambulyx strigilis

Dear Elizabeth,
Like the Achemon Sphinx, your individual is a member of the family Sphingidae, but it is a Streaked Sphinx,
Protambulyx strigilis, a tropical species regularly found in Florida, that has been known to stray farther north as well.  According to The Sphingidae of the Americas:  “In Florida larvae have been found on Schinus terebinthefolia.”

Awesome!  Thank you so much! :))

Letter 291 – Streaked Sphinx: Protambulyx strigilis


Moth unknown
Location: Naples, FL
November 23, 2010
Hi Daniel,
Thank you for you reply.  I have a large “Orange Jasmine” bush that flowers often and profusely. This brings in lots of flying insects and the flying insects attract tropical orb spiders.
I have attached some photos.  You may use any of the photos I have sent to you, my compliments.  If there are numbers in the file name they are the year, month, day.
The file named Moth_unknown:  I see many similar types of moth when the jasmine blooms.
I live on eight acres, about 8 miles east of Naples, FL.
Robert Lenahan

Streaked Sphinx: Protambulyx strigilis

Hi again Rober,
This gorgeously aerodynamic Sphinx Moth is
Protambulyx strigilis.  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas website it is commonly called the Streaked Sphinx

Letter 292 – Streaked Sphinx from Puerto Rico


Subject: Streak Sphinx in Puerto Rico
Location: Puerto Rico
January 31, 2017 3:11 pm
Just wanted to share a picture of a Streaked Sphinx moth hanging in our driveway here in the Eastern side of Puerto Rico
Signature: Raul

Streaked Sphinx

Hi Raul,
Thanks for sending in your image of a Streaked Sphinx,
Protambulyx strigilis.

Letter 293 – Striped Morning Sphinx


Took this picture in AJO Arizona.
Alma Jo

Thanks for the photo of the Striped Morning Sphinx, Hyles lineata, Alma Jo.

Letter 294 – Striped Morning Sphinx


Subject: Unidentified Moth
Location: Linn county, Oregon
August 21, 2013 6:45 pm
Hello, I was just trying to figure out what kind of moth this is? It was found in linn county, Oregon up in the hills. Thanks for any help.
Signature: Justine

Striped Morning Sphinx
Striped Morning Sphinx

Dear Justine,
This is such a regal portrait of a Striped Morning Sphinx or Whitelined Sphinx,
Hyles lineata.

Letter 295 – Striped Morning Sphinx


Subject: Beautiful moths!
Location: Sylmar, CA
February 22, 2014 12:19 pm
Hi there, I recently found a large moth resting on the sidewalk on my way home and snapped a picture because I hadn’t seen a pattern like it before. Then the next day a saw another! I’ve become obsessed with finding them now! Thanks to your website I know now that they were Striped Morning Spinx. I thought you might enjoy the pictures! Great website!
Signature: New moth hunter

Striped Morning Sphinx
Striped Morning Sphinx

Dear New moth hunter,
We have a Striped Morning Sphinx or Whitelined Sphinx,
Hyles lineata, on our front porch at this moment, and another smaller individual was on the screen door Thursday night.

Letter 296 – Striped Morning Sphinx


Subject: Striped Morning Sphinx Moth
Location: Collinsville, IL
September 28, 2014 6:22 pm
Hanging out by our outside light…
Signature: Kat D.

Striped Morning Sphinx
Striped Morning Sphinx

Dear Kat,
Though the common name Striped Morning Sphinx is not used as frequently as the name Whitelined Sphinx for
Hyles lineata, we actually prefer the more obscure common name because it was used by author Charles Hogue in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin.  The Striped Morning Sphinx has been reported in all 48 continental states.

Letter 297 – Striped Morning Sphinx


identification of a moth
Can you please tell me what this moth is. It and many others were feeding at my honeysuckle bush one evening. The sound like and are about the same size as a hummingbird. I found one on your website that was similar. Is it a striped morning sphinx? Can you tell me anything about them ie. are they a pest or a friend to the garden?
Thanks, W. McCoy
Vernon, BC Canada

Hi W. McCoy
You are absolutely correct in the Striped Morning Sphinx identification. They are beneficial for pollination purposes. If the larvae get too numerous, they can do some temporary damage to plants by eating leaves. I just let the larvae feed on my fuschia leaves so I can benefit from the moths later.

Letter 298 – Striped Morning Sphinx


Turned on the overhead light in the porch of my home in Tucson, AZ and can’t identify this bug.
Hi there,
I was out last night, turned on the overhead light of our porch and found this bug flying around the light. I turned of the light and it proceeded to cling to the wall of the house next to the door. In fact, I believe it flew into me as I enter the house. Good thing it did not enter the house or there would have been mayhem with our two indoor cats. Anyway, I have attached a picture I took with my Canon 10D + Flash titled UFI (unidentified flying insect). Perhaps you can tell me what it is. It looks like a moth, and if it is, it’s certainly one I have never seen before.
Thanks in advance,
Stuart Levine
Tucson, AZ

Hi Stuart,
Your moth is a Striped Morning Sphinx, also known as a White Lined Sphinx. They are common throughout the U.S. and are often attracted to lights.

Letter 299 – Striped Morning Sphinx


Strange Moth
Hey Bugman!
I was surprised by this large moth while sitting by my little man-made pond, here, on our organic farm in Southern Alberta. It flaps it’s wings like a hummingbird. It is on a fly swatter in the bottom of a pint glass. Don’t worry I wasn’t about to swat it!
Carstairs, Alberta

Hi Frances,
The White Lined Sphinx, Hyles lineata, also known as the Striped Morning Sphinx, is often confused for a hummingbird when it visits flowers, often at dawn and dusk.

Letter 300 – Striped Morning Sphinx


Morning sphinx?
My kindergarten class is currently studying insects and we need your help. I just happen to catch this one on video and digital format in the early evening. I live in the north Dallas area in Hickory Creek, Texas. This moth was savoring the nectar from my Indian Hawthorne bushes in bloom! On another point, I need your help in saving my mature oak tree from caterpillars this year. Last year, the entire tree was covered with gobs of webs! I am afraid my tree may die and it is also very annoying to have these clumps falling down on my patio and yard. Is there some type of treatment I can administer to the root system? The tree is too large to spray and there are way too many places to treat.
Loretta Lee
Lake Dallas Primary Kindergarten

Hi Loretta,
Your moth is indeed a Striped Morning Sphinx or White Lined Sphinx, Hyles lineata. it is probably the most common Sphinx Moth in North America with a coast to coast distribution. We know of no systemic for caterpillar control. Caterpillar populations are frequently cyclic, culminating in a year of overpopulations before the numbers stabilize once again. Caterpillars eat leaves, and this will not seriously impact the health of a mature tree.

Letter 301 – Striped Morning Sphinx


a large moth in Mesquite, NV
April 15, 2010
Dear Bugman,
I spotted this large moth this morning (4/15) around 8am in Mesquite. The temperature was around 60. It just hung out on the pump while I gassed up my Corolla. What kind of moth is it?
Mesquite, Nevada, USA

Striped Morning Sphinx

Dear Andrea,
This lovely moth is a Striped Morning Sphinx or White Lined Sphinx, Hyles lineata, arguably the most common large moth in North America.  It ranges in all 48 of the continental states as well as Mexico and Canada.  Gas Stations can be magnets for large moths and other insects that are attracted to lights, like Toe-Biters and Prionid Beetles.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks so much! 🙂

Letter 302 – Striped Morning Sphinx and Hubbard's Silkmoth


Hello, I caught these moths outside my home in Tucson Arizona and i was wondering if you could identify one, the other I know is a white- striped sphinx moth. Thank you, Jossy
( The pins are because they are apart of aninsect collection, 521 and 526 are the sphinx moth, 527 and 523 are the unknown moth Thanks!)

Hi Jossy,
Your sphinx is a Striped Morning Sphinx or White-Lined Sphinx as you supposed. Your unknown moth is Leptarctia californiae, though that name may be obsolete. It is a highly variable species found in Southern California.

I happened upon your site and noted a few errors that should be corrected. I only dealt with the Giant Silkmoths (Saturniidae) and Hawkmoths (Sphingidae) for which I have written textbooks and am intimately familiar. The corrections are as follows: In the photo dated September 9, 2004 labeled moths

Letter 303 – Striped Morning Sphinx Caterpillar


What’s this caterpillar?
We found this caterpillar in our backyard, 6-24-05, Dayton Nevada. Can you tell us what he is? In defensive mode, it curled up. Thanks in advance for your help.
Dennis & Pamela Nolan

Hi Dennis and Pamela,
Nice photo of a Striped Morning Sphinx, or White Lined Sphinx caterpillar, Hyles lineata. There is a brown form as well as the green form your photo illustrates.

Letter 304 – Striped Morning Sphinx Caterpillar


Subject: Caterpillar?
Location: NW Missouri
October 10, 2013 2:06 pm
Found this outside one of our chicken coops. Trying to identify. We are located in NW Missouri.
Signature: Sarah

Striped Morning Sphinx Caterpillar
Striped Morning Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Sarah,
This is the caterpillar of a Striped Morning Sphinx or Whitelined Sphinx, Hyles lineata.  The Striped Morning Sphinx Caterpillars can get quite numerous, especially in desert areas when conditions are correct.  Adult Striped Morning Sphinxes are frequently confused for hummingbirds.  For more information, see Sphingidae of the Americas.

Letter 305 – Striped Morning Sphinx Caterpillar: Dark Form


Unidentified catepillar
Location: Pennsylvania
October 20, 2010 7:32 pm
Wondering what this is? I got to page 23 and didn’t find it.
Signature: John Stella

Striped Morning Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi John,
This is the caterpillar of the White Lined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx,
Hyles lineata, a species that is found in all 48 of the continental United States as well as Mexico and Canada.  It has a highly variable caterpillar, a trait that might contribute to its range and frequency since it is so adaptable.  If you scroll down the species page on the Sphingidae of the Americas website, you will find a matching example of this unusual dark variation.

Striped Morning Sphinx Caterpillar

Letter 306 – Striped Morning Sphinx Caterpillar from Hawaii


Subject: Unidentified caterpillar from Hawaii
Location: Hawaii (O’ahu)
February 15, 2014 10:47 am
I was wondering if you might know what this caterpillar is. We encountered many of the same type in Hawaii (O’ahu) in January in grassy, mountainous areas. I tried to see if it was a Pink-Spotted Hawkmoth caterpillar but I couldn’t seem to make what I looked up and my picture match.
Thank you very much for any help!
P.S. That’s my husband; he loves encountering new critters out in the field.
Signature: Michelle

Striped Morning Sphinx Caterpillar
Striped Morning Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Michelle,
This Striped Morning Sphinx or Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata, is a member of the family Sphingidae which includes the Pink Spotted Hawkmoth.  The caterpillar is highly variable and there are many variations ranging from green and yellow to almost entirely black.  You can find additional information on Hyles lineata on the Sphingidae of Hawaii page of the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Letter 307 – Mariposa nocturna de 100 Vatios


Subject: A large, interesting moth
Location: Central Texas
October 18, 2012 11:56 am
Hello Bugman!
Last night while walking to my mother’s house I saw this very large moth fluttering near the porch light. I have never seen a moth quite like this one, the vertical stripes on its wings were so delicate they looked painted. It vibrated its wings very quickly for a few minutes, and then settled down. When it spread its wings, there appeared to be some red coloration. I live in central Texas, and took these photos yesterday (October 17th 2012)
Thanks Bugman!
Signature: Susan

Striped Morning Sphinx

Dear Susan,
Thank you so much for sending in this photo of the legendary Mariposa nocturna de 100 Vatios, or as it is better known, the Whitelined Sphinx,
Hyles lineata, alternately known as the Striped Morning Sphinx.  100 watt light bulbs will attract prodigious numbers of Striped Morning Sphinxes when they are in flight.  See the Firefly Forest for more information on the Whitelined Sphinx.  Sphingidae of the Americas is another wonderful source for this family.

Thanks so much for the informative response. I feel a bit sheepish now seeing that it’s such a common moth, but quite novel to me. In truth, I have always been afraid of moths and butterflies but as of late, have decided to combat my fear with curiosity and knowledge. With the help of your site, I’m finding the world of entomology to be exciting and less than terrifying. Fear really is the basis for hatred and violence, and I can proudly state there is no longer any unnecessary carnage taking place in my home. I’ve always been a fan of beetles and bees, but moths- not so much. These insects and I are finally living in peace, and What’s That Bug is almost solely responsible for the shift in attitude.
Best regards,

Hi Again Susan,
We are happy to hear about your change of attitude, and we are proud to tag your posting with the Bug Humanitarian Award.

I am honored to be tagged with the Bug Humanitarian Award! I wish I could take back my previous actions towards some harmless moths that were just living their lives- but I can’t. I can, however, continue to be compassionate towards them from here on out (relocation via stemware and paper as you suggested has come in very handy in the house!) I think it’s very kind you’d extend the award to someone who was once a villain!
Long live the Striped Morning Sphinx!

Letter 308 – Swarms of Striped Morning Sphinxes in Baja


Probable Hyles lineata
Thought you’d enjoy this image. I was in a isolated part of Baja California (about 200 mi south of the border, near the ocean), and there was a massive flight of sphinx moths. They all converged on this one agave (Agave shawii). There must have been 50 – 100 moths flying around. This image was taken just at sunset, and you can see the orange light reflected off the bug’s legs. Let me know if you want other more identifiable images.

Hi A,
We have gotten reports large numbers of Striped Morning Sphinxes in the desert in the past. The caterpillars are also often found in great numbers eating desert plants in the brief periods of time they are green.

Letter 309 – Four Sphinx Moths from Ecuador


December 8, 2009
3 species of Sphingidae from Bellavista, Ecuador.
1: Perigonia sp. ?
2: Xylophanes sp.
3: Adhemarius sp.
I would be grateful for any ID-help.
Bellavista Lodge, western slope, Ecuador

Hi Leif,
Sadly, we haven’t the time to post all of your lovely images.  We are copying Bill Oehlke on this letter.  If he writes back to both of us with IDs, we will post his response.