Subject: Sleek Moth, Perhaps a Sphinx?
Location: Coryell County, Texas
September 20, 2015 3:17 pm
Hello, we saw this beautiful and rather large moth on Tuesday, September 15th at 4 PM. Sunny and quite warm weather, 90 degrees with a light breeze, gorgeous day. This moth first flew flower to flower, and it may have been avoiding the watering hose or perhaps feeding on the purple asters. As we approached it, it landed on the flowers and stayed perfectly still until after sundown; it was gone the next morning.
Side note: I would have gotten closer to it, but we had just pulled a meter-long snakeskin from these very flowers. It’s been The Summer of the Snakes around here.
I looked at moths on your site. Is it a Tersa Sphinx (Xylophanes tersa)?
It reminds me of a balsa wood stealth jet, unreal looking, so lovely.
Thank you and best wishes!
Your identification of this Tersa Sphinx is absolutely correct. According to the Sphingidae of the Americas site: “Adults begin feeding at sunset from flowers including honeysuckle (Lonicera), four o’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) and Asystasia gangetica. ” It sounds as if you observation includes feeding at least three hours prior to sunset. Perhaps the garden hose startled it into flying earlier in the day than it would typically begin flying.