The dark, inset eyes on this Laurel Sphinx (Sphinx kalmiae) give it a really ghostly look, don’t they?
I always assumed this moth used Mountain Laurel (Kalmia spp.) as a host plant, and it turns out that a lot of other people did too - according to bugguide.net, the specific epithet kalmiae led to the moth’s common name, even though it was actually named after the botanist Peter Kalm.
I received a really unusual ID request today. This lovely is a Streaked Sphinx (Protambulyx sturgilis), the only member of its genus north of Mexico and is restricted to Southern Florida and coastal Texas.
My man says they are a huge bug on my tomato , ME WHERE!
Has already eaten one tomato this size today was mad when it ate all the rest of the stalk and stood up, I had to sneek another one. So we will see in the morning how much it has ate!!!Love the little hairy (claw) Feet!!!!
Class Insecta (Insects) Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths) Superfamily Bombycoidea (Silkworm, Sphinx, and Royal Moths) Family Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths) Other Common Names Hawk Moths (adults) Hornworms (larvae) Synonyms and other taxonomic changes Sphingidae Latreille, 1802 Explanation of Names Sphingidae from the type genus Sphinx (Linnaeus), for the Egyptian Sphinx. Common name “Hornworm” due to the stiff pointy dorsal extension near the end of the abdomen of most larvae. Numbers There are 124 described species found in America north of Mexico.(1) Size Wingspan 28-175 mm. Identification Adult - medium to very large. Body very robust; abdomen usually tapering to a sharp point. Wings usually narrow; forewing sharp-pointed or with an irregular outer margin. No ocelli or tympanal organs. Proboscis usually well developed, extremely long in some species that feed in flowers with deep calyxes. Antennae gradually thicken along length, then become narrower toward tip. Larva - naked except for a few scattered hairs. Most have a prominent dorsal horn at the tip of abdomen (thus the name, hornworms). Range Throughout North America. Season Year round in the south Food Larvae feed both day and night on many kinds of woody and herbaceous plants. Adults feed on nectar and some are important pollinators. Life Cycle Usually pupate in soil, though some form loose cocoons among leaf litter. Remarks Some are active only at night, others at twilight or dawn, and some, such as the clearwings (e.g. genus Hemaris - not to be confused with the Clearwing family, Sesiidae) feed on flower nectar during the day. Some larvae (hornworms) do serious damage to crop plants (e.g. tomato, tobacco, potato). Hornworms are often attacked by braconid wasp parasitoids.
We took a walk in the late afternoon on one of the first days, and as we were photographing milkweed, a woman walked past us and told us there was a sphinx moth and a whole group of hummingbirds further up the road, feeding on a huge patch of milkweed. My dad and I had no idea what a sphinx moth is, but we immediately abandoned the single milkweed plant to go find out.
Its wings were beating so fast that we could barely see it, but as you can see my dad managed to get shots of the color on its wings and body.
We were there for quite a while as he tried to get good pictures. He wasn’t able to get any of the hummingbirds, but while I waited for him I got to watch them, fluttering in and out of the bushes and buzzing from plant to plant. On the other side of me there was a huge meadow, with tiny black and white birds flying out of and then dive-bombing into the grass. Up ahead of me was the road, curving out into blue snow-capped mountains with the sun setting behind them.