The Virginia Creeper Hornworm may be green or brown. The big, plump, and hairless caterpillar has a long spine-like 'horn' that points back over the rear end. The body and tail are covered in tiny granular dots, adding texture to the caterpillar. Each side of the body has a long white line with seven slanted lines extending downward from it. Small orange dots mark the sides of each segment. Green caterpillars may have brown spots ringed in yellow along the 'spine'. The brown caterpillars have fainter dorsal spots and may have purple or pink hues all over the body. The head matches body color and is followed by a wide bulge at the 'neck'.
This caterpillar is named after one of its native host plants, the Virginia Creeper vine. It also feeds on grape leaves though and may cause significant damage to newly planted, young grapevines. Older vines seem to tolerate the hornworm without much issue. The Virginia Creeper Hornworm is used by certain wasps and flies as food for their young so natural controls exist that generally keep the population in check. Two generations are possible in warmer states so one can find them nibbling leaves in spring and even in late autumn.
The map above showcases (in blue) the states and territories of North America where the Virginia Creeper Hornworm may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data can be useful in seeing concentrations of a particular species over the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some species are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America.*NOTE: States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Virginia Creeper Hornworm. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.