Subject: half bird?!? bug!
Location: Toronto, Canada
July 4, 2012 9:17 am
We saw this bug crawling across our lawn in Toronto, Canada. It appeared to have a damaged wing and was covered in a grey dust.
It was huge and almost looks like it has the head of a budge!
Love your site…just discovered and definitely bookmarked.
This newly eclosed Sphinx Moth in the genus Manduca has recently emerged from its pupa and its wings have not yet fully expanded. We believe it is either the Carolina Sphinx, Manduca sexta (see Sphingidae of the Americas), or the Five Spotted Hawkmoth, Manduca quinquemaculata (see Sphingidae of the Americas). The two species look similar and your photo does not show enough characteristics for us to be able to tell the difference. Both species have caterpillars that feed on the leaves of tomato plants and related plants in the family. Pupation occurs underground. We suspect you might have a vegetable patch nearby. We thought your birdlike moth would be a member of the family Sphingidae because its members are sometimes called Hummingbird Moths and diurnal species are frequently mistaken for hummingbirds when they hover in place while nectaring. Though we were surprised with your image, we must say that this plump newly metamorphosed moth really does resemble a bird.
Thank you for the thorough answer! We definitely have a vegetable patch nearby…tomatoes and peppers!
I apologize for the poor images, i only had my smartphone camera and nothing better.
My wife and I were shocked at the shear size of the (now known) moth and that odd birdlike head. I have lived in Toronto for my entire life and we have had gardens at this location since 1979. We have never seen anything like this in the past. Are they common in this part of the world or is this another example of strange weather patterns forcing various species to travel further north? (like the recent findings of Monarchs in Edmonton). I just read on one of your links that they are irregular in Southern Ontario and only reported 2 hours south of us in London. I hope this isn’t a bad sign!
Thank you again and thank you for opening a new, interesting world of information!
Hi Again Tom,
According to the Sphingidae of the Americas website Ontario page, Manduca quinquemaculata is a native species and Manduca sexta is an ” irregular migrant.” Since we cannot tell the difference in your photo, and since both species are reported from Ontario, we would not get unduly alarmed just yet. Climate patterns are changing, and we should come to expect the appearance as well as the disappearance of species in certain areas because of temperature changes.