Five Spotted Hawkmoth

Carolina Sphinx
Location:  Bellevue NE moonflower bush
September 25, 2010 11:55 pm
Thank you for your site. I was able to identify what I took a picture of.
Signature:  Eric

Five Spotted Hawkmoth

Dear Eric,
Your photos are quite wonderful, especially the image that shows the moth with its long proboscis uncoiled and reaching deep into the throat of the blossom for the nectar.  If your photos were not of such a high quality, we probably would not be able to correct your misidentification.  If you compare the markings on the thorax of your specimen and count the yellow spots on the abdomen, we think you will agree that this is actually not a Carolina Sphinx, but rather a Five Spotted Hawkmoth,
Manduca quinquemaculata.  Bill Oehlke’s website, Sphingidae of the Americas, has excellent images of numerous members of the family, and you can compare his photographs of the Five Spotted Hawkmoth with those of the Carolina Sphinx. As long as we are making corrections, the blossom that the Five Spotted Hawkmoth is feeding upon is a Datura, commonly called a Jimsonweed.  We believe the common name Moonflower belongs to a vine in the morning glory family and though the Datura also blooms at night, we have not heard it called a Moonflower. The Datura is a common food plant for the caterpillars of  both the Carolina Sphinx and the Five Spotted Hawkmoth, and having flowers that attract the adult moths ensures that the bloom is pollinated and can produce seeds.  Both the plant and the moth benefit from their symbiotic relationship.

Five Spotted Hawkmoth

Thanks for the correction. However, the plant is not D. stramonium, it is more Ipomoea alba. The shape of leaves is distinctly different. But I am just an amateur photographer and amateur gardener.

again a google search corrects me…. Datura wrightii is the classification…but i am so confused now lol

Hi Eric,
Classification of plants and animals is no cake walk, and just when you think you have the identification nailed, some scientist reclassifies everything.  The plant is definitely a Datura.

Agreed, a Datura it is.

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