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Splotchedy Sphinx Moth Caterpillar - Paonias excaecata

Splotchedy Sphinx Moth Caterpillar - Paonias excaecata
Near Ruraldale, Upshur County, West Virginia, USA
September 3, 2005
This caterpillar was feeding on a plum tree in my yard. I tried looking at caterpillars in the Sphinx family on BugGuide, and also tried my copy of Caterpillars of Eastern Forests (plum forests?).

Looking for Sphinx family caterpillars with red blotches I struck out. Maybe this is a different instar of the ones pictured in BugGuide and in the book?

I would love to have an ID for this guy (or girl). Any help would be appreciated.

We would suggest
Paonias excaecatus - Blinded Sphinx. Wagner (1) page 262

John and Jane, and Lynette, thanks for replying. Paonias excaecatus looks good to me. My slender Wagner book does picture this species, but without the red blotches, then notes that wine red blotches are occasionally present.

The Royal British Columbia museum site is more emphatic about the blotches. Here's a nice description of the caterpillar from that site: "Pale yellowish green, heavily granulose, with seven pairs of oblique, yellow stripes; near the dorsal part of each stripe is a red blotch; these blotches are paired on each segment; first 3 segments have a yellow dorsolateral line."

This site also notes that the food plants include Prunus sp., as well as poplar, elm, and birch.

Thanks again!


Stephen Cresswell
Buckhannon, WV

I wonder
if the bumps can be used to ID? Here is a site from AZ that shows some sphinx cats. Check out Muscosa Sphinx, Florestan sphinx, Snowberry clearwing because they seem to all have lots of bumps.

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