|Ficus sphinx caterpillar|
Like the name suggests, the preferred food of this caterpillar is different species of Ficus plants. It has also been reported feeding on mangos. But don't expect to find this insect on the Ficus in your home or office. A ficus sphinx is a tropical and subtropical insect that is found in northern South America, including Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Central America, the West Indies, and occasionally ranging into Florida, southern Arizona and Texas. Of course, it is can be found in other areas of the country when it hitches a ride on Ficus plants that are transported north but this is rare.
The coloration of the caterpillar is quite variable including greenish and brownish forms. Interestingly, when diagonal stripes are present they slope away from the tail which is unusual for sphinx moths. Some individuals undergo a dramatic color change to green with an orange back, like was found, just before it pupates. The characteristic horn or tail that most sphinx caterpillars possess is greatly reduced to just a nub in this species.
|Female ficus sphinx moth|
When the gardening center was called back to notify them of the identification of the caterpillar, they said that after a little more investigation they actually discovered that the insect was not found in cut flowers but on a Ficus which of course made perfect sense.