Hornworm on Spicebush mystery

christie_sw_mo(Z6)August 24, 2011

Last week I brought in a Spicebush (lindera benzoin) leaf that had an egg on it. The egg was larger than a Spicebush Swallowtail egg and was yellowish green. It had hatched yesterday morning and turned out to be some sort of hornworm, very light green with a dark tail.

After watching it wander around for quite awhile in the container, I put some other types of leaves in there to see what it would eat. I put in viburnum dentatum and lentago, wild black cherry, tomato, and honeysuckle.

This morning it's perched along the rib on the back of a v. dentatum leaf. The tip of the leaf has been chewed but it may have been that way when I put it in there and I just didn't notice. It's body is darker than its head now and the tail is still very dark.

Any guesses on what it might be? Are there any hornworms that use spicebush as a host? I couldn't find any with a web search. I'm going to try putting some fresher spicebush leaves in the container and watch to see if it will eat those. Maybe the old leaves were too dried out.

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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I don't know of any sphinx moths that use spicebush or any member of the laurel family for that matter, Christie. The laurel sphinx moth is called that because it uses mountain laurel, which is in the family with azaleas, rhododendrons, blueberries, etc., not a real laurel.
Butterflies and undoubtedly moths frequently miss the intended leaf when they lay eggs - I'm raising a gulf frit now that came from an egg laid on the Japanese climbing fern next to the passionvine.
What plants are close to the spicebush?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 11:42AM
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There's a limb of a wild black cherry that sort of hangs over the top of the spicebush, viburnum dentatum on one side and viburnum lentago on the other. I have leaves of all three of those in the container. There's also an Osage Orange growing pretty close to my spicebush, and the next closest things would be redbud and viburnum prunifolium. There may be some others within several yards. It's along an old fencerow where there is a variety of things, black walnut, elm, hickory, mulberry, etc. There are no tomato plants on that side of my yard at all.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 1:05PM
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Laurel or cherry sphinx perhaps. Try all the surrounding leaves, including the spicebush. let's see what happens.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 1:08PM
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I don't know of any of our Sphingids that use Lindera, but that doesn't mean none do as I don't know for sure. But Sphinx gordius, Hemaris thysbe and diffinis, some of the Darapsa and Poanias sp will use some Viburnum sp; Hemaris thysbe and diffinis will use the Lonicera, Prunus, etc.
Keep us posted.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 4:23PM
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I checked it again and it is eating viburnum dentatum. I'll look up the ones you mentioned Larry and will post a photo when it gets bigger and has some markings on it. Right now it's too small for my camera to focus on.
Thanks : )

    Bookmark   August 24, 2011 at 8:12PM
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By now your little hornworm should be large enough for a picture. Let's see what it looks like.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 10:36AM
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I took these this morning. It's aboug 3/4" long now counting its tail,and still eating viburnum dentatum. It molted yesterday. Can you tell what it is yet? I'll post another photo when it's bigger as I'm sure the markings will change.

This was a day or two ago before it molted.

And the baby picture. awww it looks like a puppy : )

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 11:27AM
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Azalea sphinx!!!!!



    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 12:27PM
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I believe you were right Tomatoworm. Thank you!
Here's a photo I took on the 8th and I gave it back its freedom right after. It was eating too much. I put it on my viburnum dentatum. I was having more trouble keeping up with feeding it than I did with my big cecropia.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 7:17PM
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