large unusual moth
Location:  mid-Missouri
September 8, 2010 10:18 am
This large moth came fluttering into my flower bed while I was weeding, yesterday. What is its name?
God is a great creator! Amazing camouflage.
Signature:  Dorothy

Pandora Sphinx

Hi Dorothy,
Of all the many species of moths that have evolved to exhibit excellent camouflage, the one species that our readership consistently acknowledges as having a camouflage pattern is
Eumorpha pandorus, commonly called the Pandora Sphinx.  We suspect it is because the markings on this species most closely resemble the camouflage pattern of military fatigues.  The naming of insects according to taxonomic protocol is a fascinating process, and the person who discovers and identifies a new species gets the honor, though this has often led to confusion over the years when more than one person has “discovered” and named a species in the days prior to a reliable global communication system.  All living creatures are named with a binomial system that first  identifies a capitalized genus of closely related individuals that have evolved from some ancestral and possibly extinct creature, and then a lower case species name.  According to BugGuide, the genus name Eumorpha means “fair of form” in Greek, and the species name pandorus means “giving all” or “given all” also according to BugGuide.  The common name Pandora Sphinx is derived from the scientific binomial name, though that name has undergone taxonomic changes since this species was first discovered.  In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman who was given gifts by all the gods and goddesses, including a box that she was not to open.  Curiosity got the best of her and she opened the box and  unleashed evil into the world.  The common name Sphinx refers to the characteristic pose of the caterpillar that is thought to resemble the Sphinx of mythology, immortalized in the colossal statue in Egypt.  Interestingly, more than any other group of insects, large moths often were given names that reference Greek and Roman mythology.

5 Responses to Pandora Sphinx

  1. WANT to know if they bite

  2. Elizabeth Emer says:

    My daughter found a caterpillar she’s very good at being careful with them but I want to make sure there’s nothing unsafe about it if she touches it. Any warning?

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