Location: At sea, off Angola
February 3, 2011 9:34 am
Dear Mr. Bugman,
I met this fellow on an oil tanker today, about 75 miles off the coast of Angola, West Africa. It is 5-6 cm long, and was found on deck just after a thunder storm had gone by.
I believe it is a moth, but what is the full name?
Upon working on this posting, we realized that this is the second time you have sent us an image of a Hawkmoth found at sea off of Angola. Your first specimen was eventually recognized as a Verdant Hawkmoth. Hawkmoths in the family Sphingidae are very powerful fliers, and that combined with with wind may have caused both specimens to alight on your oil tanker. Hopefully, we will be able to eventually provide you with a species identification for this individual as well.
Update thanks to Karl
Hi Daniel and Geir:
Your hawkmoth doesn’t show many distinguishing features and unfortunately the hind wings and abdomen are not visible. However, I think it looks very much like a Convolvulus Hawkmoth (Agrius convolvuli). This is a common and very wide spread species ranging from southern Europe and all of Africa, across southern Asia to Australia (perhaps trying to extend its range further by jumping ship?). Not surprisingly, given its range, both adults and caterpillars show considerable variation, although adult color and pattern are generally fairly drab. That said, the pattern on the thorax, the pale checkering along the trailing edge of the forewing and the banded legs appear consistent in most images. If that isn’t the correct species, I believe Agrius is at least the right genus. Regards. Karl