Sphinx Moth Pocket Journal

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Model: PJ-83
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Sphinx Moth (Family Sphingidae)

Sphinx moths are generally large, robust moths.  Their forewings are long and narrow, hindwings are shorter.  Wingspans of this family range from 2-8 inches.  They are also known as “hawk moths” or “hummingbird moths” because of their swift, hovering flight.  Sphinx moths are among the fastest fliers of the Lepidoptera (moth and butterfly family).

Sphinx moths are often mistaken for hummingbirds and bumblebees because of their similarities in size and foraging behavior.  Most members of this family are active between dark and dawn (nocturnal).  Like hummingbirds, many sphinx moths fly in a quick, darting manner and hover over flowers sipping nectar.  Adult sphinx moths have a long straw-like tongue which they keep curled under their head.  They are generally attracted to flowers with a strong, sweet scent and which are white or pale in color.  Sphinx moths in turn help to pollinate these flowers as their fuzzy bodies are excellent pollen carriers.

Larvae of sphinx moths are generally large as well.  The larvae, or caterpillars, are often called “hornworms” because of a horn or spine-like appendage on the last abdominal segment.  Sphinx moths get their name from the posture assumed by caterpillars of this family when disturbed—they elevate the front part of their body and assume a posture reminiscent of the Egyptian Sphinx.

Transformation of the often-intimidating caterpillars into the more spectacular adult moths reminds us to embrace change.

artwork by Irene Brady, text by Steve Sierigk

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