Eggs on Desmodium and Cute Sphinx Moth

misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)August 2, 2011

I was out in my garden late this evening and wondered where the long-tailed skippers were - I can't remember when I've seen one. I turned over some stick-tight leaves, and there was an egg! I looked at the undersides of a lot of the D. paniculatum/stick-tight leaves that I grow in my garden and found a lot of those white eggs. I looked up LTS eggs, and they're yellow, so I doubt that's what these are. Hoary edges have white eggs, and they use Desmodium, so that's probably what these are. I'll keep an eye on them to see when they hatch, and I might try to raise some. Here's a picture -

I saw a cute hummingbird type moth nectaring on lantana. It may be a titan sphinx moth, but the pictures I've seen of titan sphinx moths don't have white spots on their lower backs. There are a few other sphinx moths that are closely related to the titan sphinx, but I haven't studied them well enough yet to know if they could be my sphinx.

I got this picture -

Anybody know what type sphinx this is?


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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I just found a picture of a titan sphinx with the white spots, so I think that must be what my little guy is. Most of the pictures I see of them show them nectaring on lantana - must be a real favorite of theirs!
They also say they use buttonbush for a host plant, and I've got a real big buttonbush - hmmmmm.....

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 10:56PM
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Wow is that ever a cute sphinx moth! I wish I got those. I have a button bush and a large lantana near each other. Hmmm...I will have to look up their range.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 9:39AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I sent Bill Oehlke the picture asking him to ID this sphinx moth if he could. He replied and said that my moth doesn't show white patches of the anal angle that is typical of titan sphinx moths, but it might be that the picture obscures it. He says my little guy might be a clavipes, fadus or tantalus sphinx moth.
I'm going to look at some of the other pictures I made, none of which are good, to see if I can find the diagnostic 'white patches at anal angle' - I don't remember seeing any more white, though.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 10:18AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Well, my memory is as reliable as ever! I found a somewhat blurry picture showing a white patch on the side of this sphinx moth, down low. So I sent Bill this picture to see if the white is on the anal angle.

This sphinx moth was bigger than hummingbird clearwings, and when it'd fly past me, I could sometimes see and hear the wings flapping, not just buzzing like a hummingbird. Vedddy interesting, at least to me! :)
I'll be checking my buttonbush for sure!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 10:41AM
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This little sphinx reminds me of Amphion floridensis or the Nessus Sphinx, MissSherry! The Nessus has the white stripe also, usually two, but many times just one. They are similar in size as well. But, a different tribe..... Nessus belongs to the Macroglossini in the subfamily Macroglossinae, while Aellopos titan belongs to the Dilophonotini tribe in the same subfamily. The Erynnis obscura, or Obscure sphinx that I found last year is in the same tribe as the Titan sphinx and so are the Hemaris species that includes the Hummingbird, Snowberry Clearwing, and others.

I looked at numerous websites with images of the Titan sphinx and the best ones I could find that actually show the 3 white spots, are at Bug Guide. I didn't look too long, but I checked Dan Jantzen's website, Bill Oehlke's, and a couple other image sites. It look like Titan sphinx to me, but my eye is not as educated as many others.

It is a diurnal moth, and all sites I read mentioned the main nectar source as Lantana. They have been sited as far North as Canada. Do check your Buttonbush for eggs. If they are anything like the Obscure sphinx, in the same tribe, they will be easy to raise, with a high success rate.

Right after my Obscure sphinx moths emerged from their cocoons last year, I put them in the fridge for a short time, which was enough to allow me to photograph them before I put them in some shrubs to aestivate during the day. The Obscure is a nocturnal moth, so I didn't want to leave them in bright light for the remainder of the day. Oh, and their flight time is around August, so that would be the best time to find them.

What a gorgeous little specimen! Wish I had some!


    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 3:32PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Thanks, Susan! I saw him/her again today about 2:00 p.m., so they're definitely day flying moths - it was nectaring on the lantana again. Bill said that he thought he could see a little white on the edge of the WING - oddly, the anal area is in the wing. Anyway, he thinks it's most likely a titan, but it could be one of the others.
I went out to the buttonbush today to look for eggs/cats and couldn't find any, also no chewed leaves. But the false nettles are right by the buttonbush, and I found a red admiral caterpillar in a nest on a false nettle in the shade of the big bush. I've brought it in to raise. I can't find any more of them, but I'll be checking frequently for RAs and titan eggs/cats. I can't recall ever raising RAs in the summer, they show up early every spring and again in the fall, but never the summer. I also found a small cluster of 6 pipevine swallowtail eggs on some new growth on the pipevines.
I've got 2 gulf frit cats, 4 spicebush swallowtails, 1 red admiral, and if the pipevine and giant swallowtails don't lay any more eggs, I'll have a few of each of them.
I sure hope you can find some sphinx moth cats - I know how you love them!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 4:24PM
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You're right, they are my favorite! I only did a cursory search for eggs of the Nessus since I had several visiting, but my Virginia Creeper has pretty much died back in the heat, and they are in locations that don't get any water.

My little Buttonbush is only about 2' tall, planted last year from a seedling I grew. But I have watered it well and it is handling the heat like a champ.

I did notice in the images the white markings on the wings, too, but I did not realize the anal area is in the wings! Is Bill referring to the white patches on the underside of the hind wings? Or, on the lower edge of the upperside?

You may already have the info in the link, but it is a link in Bill Oehlke's website to info provided by Brush Freeman in Calhoun County, Texas, that describes the differences between the Titan, Fadus, and Clavipes sphinx moths.

I am so excited for you and hope you eventually find eggs and/or caterpillars.


Here is a link that might be useful: Differences Between Titan, Fadus, and Clavipes Sphinx Moths

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 11:01PM
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Looks like a Nessus to me.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 6:52AM
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