Toad Bug and Mysterious Pink Sphinx Caterpillar: Possibly Elegant Sphinx

Greetings from the lower rogue river
Good morning, from the black bar lodge employees…we have found these recently…one is a bug from down by the river…the other was walking across the road…we are located in southern Oregon…we are hoping that you can help us identify these both…thanks in advance for your help…
Lynnie, rusty, alisa and cassidy…

Toad Bug Mysterious Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Black Bar Employees,
Your aquatic bug is a Toad Bug in the Family Gelastocoridae. They live on the banks of creeks, ponds and rivers and they eat small aquatic creatures. BugGuide has additional information. The pink caterpillar has us challenged. It is a Sphinx Moth, family Sphingidae, but after that it is all speculation. We spent considerable time on Bill Oehlke’s excellent Sphingidae site and are guessing, based on location and general appearance, that this might be an Elegant Sphinx, Sphinx perelegans. A second site gave us a detailed description of the larva, but does not mention the pink colortion. Many caterpillars change color from green to brown or orange just before pupation. Some caterpillars, like the Heterocampas, change pink. We are theorizing that perhaps some Elegant Sphinx Caterpillars change pink, but that is just a guess. We may try to contact Bill Oehlke to get his input. Bill Oehlke quickly wrote back to us. Here is his assessment: “Daniel, Many of the Sphingidae larvae are quite similar as are the moths. Many of them also take on the pinkish hue prior to pupation. I am more inclined to go with Sphinx chersis for this one, based on the grainy, raised dots near the head giving skin a slightly granulose appearance. I would not rule out your intitial diagnosis, but shape and colouration of spiracles also suggest chersis to me. Also there is absence of dark coloured spot on lower (leg) end, opposite side of the white striping. Do you know which county and surrounding habitat (what kind of trees and bushes nearby)? Ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and/or quaking aspen nearby would also tend toward an id as chersis. Glad the website is helpful. I wil ask Jim Tuttle if he can be even more positive on the id. Bill Oehlke”

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