Driftless Prairies: Native Habitat Restoration

Nature inspires awe!

Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths)

Sphinx moths get their common name from ancient Egypt. When a caterpillar is spotted by a predator, s/he will raise the upper body up and become stock still, appearing like the Eqyptian sphinx.

These moths are also known as the hawk moths. Their caterpillars are very large and some are called hornworms because of the horn protruding from their last segment.  Some species have proboscises longer than their body while other species do not feed. These species that do not feed rely on the stored energy from their caterpillar feeding. These moths are the fastest fliers of all Lepidoptera while their larvae (or caterpillars) are slow moving. Their slow crawl makes it more difficult to predators to locate them. These larvae have the habit of eating the entire leaf of a plant; to leave remnants would lead a predator to them.

Their interesting color patterns serve as a camouflage as they rest on bark or leaves. The underwing color and patterns are flashed to shock a predator and make them hesitate long enough for the moth to get out of the way.

Other than the hummingbird moths, most Sphingidae are nocturnal. All of them communicate with scent.