clearwing hummingbird moth caterpillar?

jdtp0203May 29, 2012

I found this on my leg after walking the dogs through the grass at the lake. The closest pic I have found says that is the name...I do not know much about caterpillars, is this type something I can let the kids keep to watch it grow, morph, and release this summer? If it is, what type of container, food, do you spritz the container or leave a cap of water in, etc. Thanks for any help!

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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

It could be a hummingbird clearwing moth caterpillar. I used my computer to zoom in on your picture, but still couldn't tell if the spiracles/breathing holes have an orangey ring of color around them. I also couldn't see if yours has a yellow ring around its "face". There are many different types of hornworms, many very similar to each other. Of course, if yours is an early instar/stage, it might not have those characteristics, because it's too young.

If I were you, I'd offer it clean viburnum leaves - no spiders on them, please :) - if you have some, and if you don't you could try honeysuckle leaves. I can't tell the size of your caterpillar by the picture, and even if I could, unless I can ID it for sure, I wouldn't know what the likely instar (stage) might be. When your caterpillar has gone through its instars and is through eating, it should spin a "weak cocoon" amongst leaves, according to my best caterpillar book, if it's a hummingbird clearwing. The moth should emerge this year sometime, just when, I don't know.

Sorry I can't be more specific, but a closer-up picture would help.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 3:50PM
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I tried getting a better pic but my camera is not made for such small things! It is less than an inch long and very skinny as well. There is no orange on it at all. It has light green on bottom half of it and 2 very faint yellow lines. 1 seperating the darkgreen/lightgreen, and 1 right before it's legs start. I'm sorry I know this is prolly a pain and I can wait until it gets bigger to figure out what it is. Should I spritz it or leave a little water in the bottom of the jar? Thanks for your help, the kids will have fun if I can manage to keep it alive!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 5:52PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I wouldn't spritz it, there's more danger of hurting it than helping it doing that.
Do you have any water picks, those things that you can buy in the floral department at stores like Hobby Lobby or Michaels? I put water in them, put the cap on, then stick the host plant/food material for caterpillars in those, then attach them with florist's wire to the side of the mesh cage I raise mine in. You could just prop the water picks up on something in the container you're using and that would do just as well. The water acts like a vase and keeps the leaf from wilting.
Since the caterpillar is so small, it's hard to say what type it is.
Have you got any viburnum leaves? What is that plant it's on?


    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 6:10PM
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He is just on some weeds out of the yard right now. I am going to go back out by the lake in a little bit to get some actual leaves for him. Botany was never a hobby of mine nor did I ever crack a book on the subject, so I am sad to say I have to sound stupid here and say I don't know if I have those leaves in the area or not. With as many species as there are I would say we should, so I will look for some. Thank you so much, I will go to the store and pick up a more appropriate container and water pick for the little guy. We will wait until it gets bigger to find out what he is for sure, better learning experience for the kiddos!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 6:26PM
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I know my cam is still not very good for these kinds of pics, but I can't believe how much it's grown in such little time! I'm so excited to see the difference, had to share although everyone else has such beautiful pictures I feel a little inadequate! He's doing so good! :)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 1:28AM
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Definitely not a Snowberry Clearwing or Hummingbird Clearwing. Looks more like a White-Lined sphinx cat. They get pretty large.

Larvae are variable in color and design. Larval host plants include many plants such as Epilobium, 4 o'clocks, Apple (Malus), Evening Primrose (Oenothera), Elm (Ulmus), Grape (Vitis, also Virginia Creeper), Tomato (Lycopersicon), Portulaca, and Fuschia. Many moth larva will consume a variety of different host plants, tho. Are you feeding it the Viburnum that MissSherry suggested?


Here is a link that might be useful: Hyles lineata aka White-Lined Sphinx

    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 6:00AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

It's definitely a white-lined sphinx moth caterpillar. They eat a very wide variety of plants, and your picture shows that's it's thriving, so whatever you're feeding it must be fine.

There's another thread on this page about a white-lined sphinx cat - the cat looks just like yours.



    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 9:52AM
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Well I tried researching as much as I could on numerous sites and finally put some moist paper towel in the bottom of the container 2 days ago. I went to change and clean out the container today and it has made a cocoon on the bottom in/on the paper towel! I went to put some water on the towel as it was dry and it started moving/squirming, so I suppose it is alright then...I have never done this before so it is new to me and the kids...I think I am enjoying it more though! I hope I don't kill the lil guy, I was expecting it not to do this until winter with what I read so not sure what to do now. I guess I will just leave it out (vs. the fridge through the winter) and keep it moist. I have enjoyed all of the pictures on this site, and wanted to say thanks again for the help!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 9:38PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Hi there--Congrats on getting your caterpillar to the pupal stage! It's best not to keep it moist in a container--it could possibly be harmful. When I've had cocoons in paper towels, I just let it be, and just kept an eye on it until the moth was ready to be released. This guy might emerge this summer still, and its brood would most likely overwinter. It's still early in the summer. Enjoy it--they are beautiful! :)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 7:27AM
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