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Portland, Oregon, USA
September 14, 2006
I found this guy in the mulch and lawn clipping pile at the base of a curly-leaved willow tree. What is he? I haven't seen any sililar creatures researching online.
He appears to be a beetle grub, but what kind? When will he come out??
Do I feed him, or just leave him in mulch??

Images of this individual: tag all
Green_Grub_Portland_Oregon Green_Grub_Portland_Oregon

Moved from Sphinx Moths.


One-eyed Sphinx
After digging a bit, I found only 2 recorded sphinx moths from the Portland area: White-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata) and the One-eyed Sphinx (Smerinthus cerisyi). Although from this picture, you cant really see the granulose skin or white markings that really give this species away, it is very likely that if you found it in a mulch pile under a tree, it is prepupal. The color of caterpillars is often very dull at this stage, so you probably won't see the distinguishing characteristics. I do see a very light horn, which the One-eyed sphinx does have, and these caterpillars feed primarily on poplar and willow, which is what you found it under. Although I'm not 100% certain, I'm quite sure this is a One-eyed Sphinx.

Good detective work, Michael!
If those are the only two choices, no question this is the Smerinthus cerisyi - Hyles spp. are such distinctive caterpillars. I've never thought of searching BMNA by county, but it's a handy tool - am I right to assume that's what you used?

You are correct!
I often use the BMNA, but unfortunately its not that accurate. When I pull up Murray Co. in Minnesota, my home county, it only lists a few species of lepidoptera, where I've caught maybe double the number in different species that are featured in other parts of the website. Giving this, there is the possibility that there are other, similar Sphinx caterpillars in your area that aren't recorded, but I'm pretty certain that its a S. cerisyi.

Looks more like a caterpillar to me
- I believe I see a "horn" at the tail end, which indicates the larva of a sphinx moth. You might find a similar one by browsing through our Sphingidae images. I don't know if there's enough detail here for an ID - the white stripe along the side of the face and faint diagonal stripes are common to several species. It is likely preparing to pupate, which they do underground (in severalinches of soil) or in leaf litter. You could provide those things if you want to keep it captive, or release it outdoors where you found it.

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