The large Elm Sphinx is a brown beauty that uses more than just elm trees as a host plant.
Like many Sphinx moths, the Elm Sphinx has a large wingspan that can exceed 100 mm, or 4 inches. The hairy thorax has a black ring around it. The long, sturdy brown wings have a bar-shaped white spot near the outer edge. The center of each forewing is streaked in dark brown coloring. Thin lines of black, tan, ivory, and brown ripple along the bottom edges of the wings.
Host plants for the caterpillar include elm trees of course, but this species also feeds on cherry, basswood, and birch trees, too. The bright green larva has diagonal lines on its sides and is covered in tiny white granules. Two sets of branching horns near the head led to a secondary name for the caterpillar: Four-horned Sphinx. A horn near its rear end extends from the body and its true legs may be white and tipped in red. Up to two broods can be produced each year with the later one overwintering underground.
Look for flying adults from late spring through most of autumn, especially in the southern part of its range. They are often found in or near deciduous woodlands where host trees grow.
Scientific Name: Ceratomia amyntor
Other Name(s): Four-horned Sphinx (caterpillar)
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 50mm to 60mm (1.95in to 2.34in)
Colors: brown, white, green, black
Descriptors: white spot, dark patch, dark center, large, huge, flying, ring, furry thorax, four horns, red-tipped legs
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.