Critter Corner - Sphinx
DID YOU KNOW:
Sphinx moths are also known
as hawk moths. They are often mistaken for hummingbirds
because of their rapid wing movement and habit of hovering in
front of flowers while feeding.
Like all butterflies and
moths, the sphinx moth is a
before it becomes an adult moth. As a caterpillar, it
feasts on plants, especially Virginia creeper and grape leaves.
As an adult, it hovers in front of flowers and uses its long
tongue, or proboscis, to sip the nectar. The sphinx moth
proboscis, which is like a hollow tube, rolls up when it is not
Mother sphinx moth lays
several eggs near a food source, like
creeper. A caterpillar (larval stage) emerges in a few
days and begins eating. Over several weeks, the
caterpillar sheds its skin five times, each time growing larger.
It then crawls to the ground and digs in a few inches. The
larva pupates in the ground. There it passes the winter
and emerges as an adult moth the next spring.
The sphinx moth
may be found in woodlands in parts of North America, including
Missouri. It is most active at dusk as
visits flowers. The adult moth is most commonly found from
mid-May through September.
As a caterpillar, it can pull
its head into its body. As an adult, the sphinx moth is a
rapid flier, clocked at speeds as high as 30 miles an hour.
The coloration and patterns on the body and wings are fantastic
The caterpillar often
rests with the head and thorax reared up in a sphinx-like
position -- thus the nickname.
About 800 species of
sphinx moths are found around the world. Each has
(Photo credits: Portrait,
Missouri Department of Conservation;
Hydrangea, Gene McDaniel in Missouri Wildlife photos on Missouri
Wildlife page; Caterpillar and moth in monarda, FNAL (Fermi Lab)