Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes


Species Manduca sexta - Carolina Sphinx - Hodges#7775

Carolina Sphinx - Manduca sexta Tomato/Tobacco Hornworm on tomato plant - Manduca sexta ID Request - Manduca sexta Tobacco hornworm (manduca sexta) - Manduca sexta Carolina Sphinx Moth caterpillar - Manduca sexta Carolina Sphinx - Hodges#7775 - Manduca sexta Carolina Sphinx - Manduca sexta Caterpillar Green after historic flooding in desert - Manduca sexta
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
No Taxon (Moths)
Superfamily Bombycoidea
Family Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths)
Subfamily Sphinginae
Tribe Sphingini
Genus Manduca
Species sexta (Carolina Sphinx - Hodges#7775)
Hodges Number
Other Common Names
Six-spotted Sphinx Moth
Tobacco Hornworm (caterpillar)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Manduca sexta (Linnaeus, 1763)
Sphinx sexta Linnaeus, 1763
Sphinx lycopersici Boisduval, [1875]
Sphinx nicotianae Boisduval, [1875]
Explanation of Names
SEXTA: meaning six; there are six orangish-yellow spots on each side of the abdomen in adults.
Wingspan 90-120 mm.
Larva to 81 mm.
Adult: Large. Forewing gray with indistinct black lines and brown shading; usually has six pairs of yellow spots on abdomen.
Hindwing small, banded black and white, with two black zigzag median lines very close together

Larva: large green body; dorsal "horn" (usually curved and orange, pink or red) on terminal abdominal segment; up to seven oblique whitish lateral lines, edged with black on upper borders.

The similar looking Tomato Hornworm, Manduca quinquemaculata, has eight v-shaped stripes and a straight blue-black horn. These caterpillars are often confused and misidentified.
Florida to Massachusetts, west through southern Ontario, Michigan, and Minnesota to Colorado and California. Ranges south through Mexico, West Indies, neotropics to Argentina.
Varied, including fields, agricultural lands.
The main flight period is May to October; year round in Florida.
Larvae feed on leaves of potato, tomato, tobacco (Nightshade family--Solanaceae).
Adults take nectar from deep-throated flowers, such as Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), moonflower (Calonyction aculeata), and petunia (Petunia hybrida).
Life Cycle
Several generations per year in the southern states; two generations per year farther north; larval development averages twenty days.
Mature larvae drop to the ground and pupate underground.
1. first instar caterpillar. 2. later caterpillar. 3. pupa. 4. adult female
Can be a pest of crops.
See Also
Manduca quinquemaculata (Five-spotted Hawk Moth) is similar as is its caterpillar, the Tomato Hornworm (below).

Ceratomia catalpae (Catalpa Sphinx) adult is similar
Print References
Covell, C.V. 1984. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Moths. Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 32; plates 1, 3. (1)
Himmelman, J. 2002. Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard. Down East Books. plate A-2. (2)
Hodges, R.W., 1971. The Moths of America North of Mexico, Fascicle 21. The Wedge Entomological Research Foundation. p. 29; plate 1, fig. 7. (3)
Powell, J.A. & P.A. Opler 2009. Moths of Western North America. University of California Press. plate 40, fig. 5; p. 244. (4)
Salsbury, G.A. & S.C. White. Insects in Kansas. Kansas Dept. of Agriculture. p. 324. (5)
Wagner, D.L. 2005. Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton University Press. p. 248 (6)
Works Cited
1.Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Moths
Charles V. Covell. 1984. Houghton Mifflin Company.
2.Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard
John Himmelman. 2002. Down East Books.
3.The Moths of America North of Mexico Fascicle 21 Sphingidae
Ronald W. Hodges. 1971. The Wedge Entomological Research Foundation.
4.Moths of Western North America
Powell and Opler. 2009. UC Press.
5.Insects in Kansas
Glenn A. Salsbury and Stephan C. White. 2000. Kansas Dept. of Agriculture.
6.Caterpillars of Eastern North America
David L. Wagner. 2005. Princeton University Press.
7.Pacific Northwest Moths
8.North American Moth Photographers Group
9.The Barcode of Life Database (BOLD)
10.Butterflies of North America