What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Big Brown Moth
Location: Houston, Texas
March 21, 2011 9:41 pm
I found this very large moth on the outside of the house in the afternoon, September 11 2009. I thought it was a weirdly stuck leaf but, on closer inspection, it turned out to be a cool moth. It seemed really docile and allowed me to pick it up and mess with it without reacting very much. I brought it inside with me and set it on a plant inside. It started acting up right then, sprayed a white fluid out of it’s rear end and started flying around. I had gotten some of the white fluid on me so it washed it off while the giant insect tried to escape. I eventually got it out of the house but not after chasing it all over and losing track of it a few times.
I found this website recently and I wondered if you could tell me what sort of moth it was and what it sprayed at me.
Signature: Thanks, Kelly Bufkin

Walnut Sphinx

Hi Kelly,
Your moth is a Walnut Sphinx,
Amorpha juglandis, and you can verify that by looking at the images on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  Bill Oehlke writes:  “The adults are also highly variable; sometimes wings of an individual may be all one color or may have several colors, ranging from pale to dark brown, and may have a white or pink tinge. Patterns range from faint to pronounced.”  We have never heard of a Sphinx Moth spraying, and we suspect the fluid it exuded may have been a residual product of metamorphosis.

Walnut Sphinx

I looked through the moths people had sent in before and I saw a lot of other kinds of sphinxes.  They did look like my moth but not quite, haha.  For it to spray at me I must have scared it or something.  Thank you for identifying it!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Texas

2 Responses to Walnut Sphinx

  1. cissy says:

    I found this Post as a result of searching for a similar incident. My students found a Small-eyed Sphinx moth and when I allowed it to walk on my finger it began to vibrate and shoot out quite a large amount of white liquid. The spray on my shorts dried quickly, leaving a permanent bleached out stain! The moth continued to gyrate for another 20-30 seconds then flew away.

    • bugman says:

      Until we learn otherwise, we are going to stick to our original assumption that the spray was a residual product of metamorphosis.

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