Sunday, June 01, 2008

Laurel Sphinx Moth (Sphinx kalmiae)

Laurel Sphinx Moth (Sphinx kalmiae)

From Butterflies and Moths of North America:

Family: Sphinx Moths, Hawkmoths (Sphingidae)

Subfamily: Sphinginae (Sphinginae)

Identification: Forewing is yellowish brown with a thin whitish line along the outer margin and a black patch along the inner margin. Hindwing is tan with a black border, black median line, and black patch at the base.

Life history: Fully-grown caterpillars pupate in cells dug in loose soil. Caterpillars of the second brood pupate and overwinter.

Flight: . Probably two broods from March-October.

Wing span: 2 15/16 - 4 1/16 inches (7.5 - 10.3 cm).

Caterpillar hosts: Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), lilac (Syringa vulgaris), fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus), privet (Ligustrum), ash (Fraxinus), poplar (Populus), mountain holly (Nemopanthus mucronatus), and northern bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera).

Adult food: Bouncing bet (Saponaria officinalis) and Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica).

Range: Newfoundland and Maine west to Manitoba and North Dakota; south to Alabama and Louisiana.

Thanks to the Moth Guy at BugGuide for confirming my ID.

My apologies for the unattractive background, but most of my moth photos are taken out on the porch because the moths are attracted to our porch light. Taking the photo of the moth on the porch seems better (to me) than capturing it and setting up a more attractive presentation later -- but that's just the way I choose to do it.



Lana Gramlich said...

I'll have to keep an eye out for this down here. Neato!

Dina said...

Wow, sounds like a big moth. I'd leave it outside too. :)

amyevg said...

I live in the UK and have just seen a caterpillar for this moth. Comfirmed by looking at alot of pics on the net. As it is native to the US could anyone tell me what it is doing over here??

Marvin said...

@amyevg: I don't know anything in particular about this species being in the UK, but in general, we've got a lot of species native to Europe and Europe has a lot of our native species. It's something that's bound to happen when people and products travel back and forth.

Allie said...

I've just rescued a caterpillar for one of these from my cat - got a pic too. It's definitely in the UK now!

Anonymous said...

I think I just found one of these caterpillars on the Isle of Wight.

Marvin said...

I have no way of knowing whether this moth native to North America is present in the UK or not, but it's entirely possible.

The British Database of World Flora and Fauna does not list it as being confirmed in the UK, but who knows how up to date that site is.


That same site says that the Privet Hawkmoth looks very similar and is a UK native.


It would be very easy for y'all to have Laurel Sphinx moths, especially since their larvae and pupae are available for purchase in the UK


Thanks for your visits to my blog. I hope it has provided some help.

Anonymous said...

Pretty sure I've got one on my garden, Wolverhampton UK.

Never seen one before but it is very near the laurel bushes

David B. said...

In the north, do they overwinter underground or just under leaf litter?

Marvin said...

David B.: Underground.