Pink Spotted Hawkmoth: Essential Facts for Enthusiasts

The Pink-Spotted Hawkmoth (Agrius cingulata) is a fascinating creature that belongs to the hawk moth or Sphingid family, which includes some of the largest moths in the world. These moths are known for their distinctive appearance and unique feeding behavior, often hovering near flowers to drink nectar using their long proboscis.

Pink-spotted hawkmoths have a striking appearance, featuring long, pointed forewings and a light brown body adorned with white lines and spots. Their hind wings display a bold pink band on a dark brown background, creating a beautiful contrast. These moths are commonly observed in gardens, where they showcase their extraordinary hovering skills as they feed on the nectar of various flowers.

These moths not only play a crucial role in pollination, but they also serve as an excellent example of adaptation in the animal kingdom. Their agile flight and ability to hover like a hummingbird make them unique among their fellow Lepidopterans. Stay tuned to learn more about this intriguing species, its habitat, and its significance in our ecosystem.

The Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Physical Characteristics

The Pink Spotted Hawkmoth (Agrius cingulata) is a fascinating member of the sphinx moth family. Let’s take a look at some of its key physical features:

  • Size: Some of the largest moths in the world
  • Appearance: Pink bands on its abdomen

The Pink Spotted Hawkmoth is quite an impressive insect when compared to other moth species. Not only is it a part of the Sphinx moth family, which contains some large moths, but it also has a distinct appearance with pink bands on its abdomen. These pink bands make it one of the more visually distinctive members of this moth group.

The large size and unique appearance of the Pink Spotted Hawkmoth makes it an interesting subject to study and observe. Overall, this moth species is an intriguing example of the incredible diversity found within the insect world.

Distribution and Habitat

Geographical Range

The Pink-spotted Hawkmoth (Agrius cingulata) has a widespread distribution, which includes areas such as:

  • North America (Canada, USA, Mexico)
  • South America (Argentina)
  • Caribbean
  • Western Europe (Portugal, UK)

It can also be found in specific regions like Hawaii, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, and British Columbia.

Natural Habitat

The preferred habitat of the Pink-spotted Hawkmoth varies between regions. For example:

  • In Arizona, they are often seen visiting blossoms of Datura at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
  • In Colorado, they may be found in open forests with a variety of vegetation types, where habitat mapping and modeling play a significant role in understanding their distribution (U.S. Geological Survey).
  • In the Caribbean, they thrive in both natural and disturbed habitats, as they are adaptive to various environmental conditions.

Pros and cons of the Pink-spotted Hawkmoth’s distribution and habitat:

Pros:

  • Wide geographical range
  • Adaptability to different environments

Cons:

  • May face challenges from habitat fragmentation or loss
  • Potential vulnerability to specific local threats (e.g., pesticide use)
Region Habitat Example
Arizona Datura blossoms at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Colorado Open forests with diverse vegetation
Caribbean Natural and disturbed habitats

Classification and Taxonomy

Order Lepidoptera

Pink-spotted hawkmoths belong to the Order Lepidoptera, which mainly includes butterflies and moths. Some key features of Lepidoptera are:

  • Scaly wings
  • Long, coiled proboscis for feeding on nectar
  • Four wings, two forewings and two hindwings

Johan Christian Fabricius, a Danish zoologist, classified these insects under Lepidoptera in the 18th century.

Family Sphingidae

Pink-spotted hawkmoths are part of the Family Sphingidae, also known as hawk moths or sphinx moths. Sphingidae is within the superfamily Bombycoidea.

Characteristics of Sphingidae include:

  • Large, heavy-bodied moths
  • Long, pointed abdomen
  • Tendency to hover near flowers when feeding

Here is a quick comparison of the classification levels relevant to pink-spotted hawkmoths:

Classification Level Name
Order Lepidoptera
Superfamily Bombycoidea
Family Sphingidae
Subfamily Sphinginae
Tribe Sphingini
Genus Agrius

Within the Sphingidae family, pink-spotted hawkmoths are classified under Subfamily Sphinginae and Tribe Sphingini. Their scientific name is Agrius cingulata, with the genus being Agrius.

Life Cycle

Eggs

The pink-spotted hawkmoth begins its life as an egg, laid by the adult female moth. These eggs are typically laid on the leaves of host plants, such as Datura and other plant species. The development process is generally brief, hatching in about one week.

Larvae

Once hatched, the larvae (caterpillars) emerge and immediately start feeding on the leaves of their host plants. Pink-spotted hawkmoth caterpillars are known for their voracious appetites. The larvae undergo several growth stages known as instars, with each shedding its skin to accommodate its size increase. They complete these stages in just a few weeks.

Pupa

Upon reaching their final growth stage, the pink-spotted hawkmoth larvae enter the pupal phase. During this phase, the caterpillars spin a cocoon and transform into a pupa. The transformation takes a varying duration, typically several weeks, depending on the climate and season.

Adult Moth

The final stage of the pink-spotted hawkmoth’s life cycle is the emergence of the adult moth. As adult moths, their primary purpose is to mate and lay eggs, ensuring the continuation of the species. Adult pink-spotted hawkmoths are known for their distinctive wing markings and long proboscis, which they use to feed on nectar from flowers during nighttime hours. Mating occurs during the warmer months, and the adult moths have a relatively short lifespan, often living only a few weeks to a month.

Feeding and Diet

Larval Food Sources

The larvae of the pink-spotted hawkmoth, also known as the sweetpotato hornworm, primarily feed on plants from the Convolvulaceae and Solanaceae families. Some examples include:

  • Datura species (moonflower)
  • Ipomoea species (morning glories)
  • Petunia species (petunias)

These plants provide essential nutrients for the pink-spotted hawkmoth larvae to grow and develop.

Adult Food Sources

As adults, pink-spotted hawkmoths feed on nectar from various flowers. They have a preference for sucrose over fructose and glucose, which provides them with energy for flight and reproduction.

Common nectar-rich flowers that pink-spotted hawkmoths visit include:

  • Sweet potato flowers (Ipomoea batatas)
  • Moonflowers (Datura species)
  • Morning glories (Ipomoea species)
  • Petunias (Petunia species)
Nectar Source Plant Family Flower Type
Sweet potato Convolvulaceae Orange/Yellow
Moonflower Solanaceae White
Morning glories Convolvulaceae Various colors
Petunias Solanaceae Various colors

By visiting flowers and feeding on nectar, adult pink-spotted hawkmoths play a vital role in the pollination of these plants, ensuring their survival and reproduction.

Relationship with Humans

Hawk Moths as Pollinators

Pink-spotted hawkmoths are part of the hawk moth family, which are known to be important pollinators. They have a long proboscis to feed on nectar from flowers, often hovering near them. Naturalists can observe these fascinating creatures in open areas where flowers are abundant.

Some key features of hawk moths as pollinators include:

  • Long proboscis for nectar feeding
  • Hovering near flowers
  • Active in open areas with abundant flowers

Pink Spotted Hawkmoths as Pests

While some hawk moths like Manduca rustica do not cause significant problems, pink-spotted hawkmoths have been observed as pests in the U.S.. They can cause damage to plants and crops by laying eggs on them, with the larvae then feeding on the plant material.

Pros of pink-spotted hawkmoths:

  • Contributions as pollinators

Cons of pink-spotted hawkmoths:

  • Can be pests to some plants and crops
  • May cause damage through larval feeding
Feature Hawk Moths Pink Spotted Hawkmoths
Role in Ecosystem Pollinators Pollinators and Pests
Effect on Humans Mostly positive Mixed (positive and negative)
Typical Habitat Open areas with flowers Open areas with flowers
Importance to Naturalists High High

Additional Information and Resources

The pink-spotted hawk moth (Agrius cingulata) is a member of the hawk moths (or sphinx moths) family. These moths are characterized by their large size and long, pointed abdomens1. Here are some key features of the pink-spotted hawk moth:

  • Night-dwelling (nocturnal)
  • Wingspan ranging from 4 to 5 inches
  • Forewing and hindwing have a mix of black and brown coloration
  • Pink or fuchsia spots along the edges of the wings
  • Distinct eyespots on the hindwings2

These beautiful creatures have a wide distribution, ranging from Argentina to the southern United States3. Their habitat usually consists of areas with their preferred food sources, such as moonflowers.

To learn more about pink-spotted hawk moths and their related species, you can visit the following resources:

A comparison of the pink-spotted hawk moth and a related species, the hummingbird moth, highlights some differences:

Feature Pink-Spotted Hawk Moth Hummingbird Moth
Coloration Black, brown, and pink Reddish-brown
Wingspan 4 – 5 inches Slightly smaller
Nocturnal Yes No4

With this information and these resources, you can gain a deeper understanding of the impressive pink-spotted hawk moth and its role in diverse ecosystems.

Footnotes

  1. https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/sphinx-moths-hawk-moths

  2. https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/hawk_moths.shtml

  3. https://www.fws.gov/species/pink-spotted-hawkmoth-agrius-cingulata

  4. https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/hummingbird_moth.shtml

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar from Hawaii

 

what is this?
Location: Honolulu Manoa Valley
July 3, 2011 3:20 pm
Found this caterpillar in my yard in Manoa Valley in Honolulu, Hawaii in some ginger and monstera and next to a crown flowers tree.
Signature: Beth

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Hi Beth,
The Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar,
Agrius cingulata, is also found throughout much of North, Central and South America and it was most likely introduced to Hawaii.  The caterpillar is highly variable, and the Sphingidae of the Americas website does not depict this particular variation on the standard species page, however is you scroll down the Sphingidae of the Americas Hawaii page, you will see an example of this color variation.

Thanks for the quick identification! Am checking the sites you mention and googling others to see what else I can learn about this caterpillar. I see it is also referred to as the sweet potato hawkmoth. Do they feed on sweet potato? I am growing a lot of sweet potatoes in my garden. But I found this one over by my ginger. Also near my crown flower tree. I know the monarchs like the crown flower.
Do you know what this species eats? Or anything more about their life cycle.
Aloha,
Beth

Hi again Beth,
According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas), jimsonweed (Datura spp.), pawpaw (Asimina spp.), and other plants in the Potato (Solanaceae) and Morning-glory (Convolvulaceae) families.  Adults take nectar from deep-throated flowers such as morning-glory (Convolvulus spp).”

Letter 2 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar from Hawaii

 

Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Honaunau Hawaii
Date: 01/17/2018
Time: 07:25 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Do you know what this is?
How you want your letter signed:  Sharon

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Sharon,
This Hornworm is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar,
Agrius cingulata, and you can find similar images on the Sphingidae of Hawaii page.

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Letter 3 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 


Perhaps you can add this photo to your collection I have another full-back view if you would like for me to send it. I’m hoping to take a photo of a sphinx caterpillar some day. This moth visits my Ginger lilies each fall. I live in Jacksonville, NC.
Peg

Dear Peg,
Thank you for the beautiful photo of a Pink-spotted hawkmoth (Agrius cingulata [Fabricius]) . The caterpillars feed on jimson weed and sweet potato as well as related plants. Try looking for them there. Good luck.

Letter 4 – Pink Spotted Hawk Moth

 

Help with ID
Hi,
We need help in identifying this beautiful guy. He was flying like a hummingbird after dark one evening. The next morning he was sitting on a screen door and allowed the owner to move him from the screen door to the porch rail post. The stayed there all day, allowed us to "pet" him at which point he opened his wings and allowed the colored body to show. His body length was 2-2 1/2" long. He left after dark the next day. This spotting is in Pharr Texas.
Thanks
Ken Saylor

Hi Ken,
This is a Pink Spotted Hawk Moth, Agrius cingulatus. It is in the family Sphingidae, also known as Sphinx Moths or Hummingbird Moths.

Letter 5 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Hawk Moth?
I saw your sight and was wondering if the attached picture is a hawk moth. I took it on the North Carolina coast in September.
Thanks
Sid Cullingham

Hi Sid,
Nice photo of a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth.

Letter 6 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Sphinx Moth
Hi. I took this photo of a Sphinx Moth feeding on our petunias during the night. What kind of Sphinx Moth is this one? Thank you.
Craig

Hi Craig,
Beautiful Pink Spotted Hawkmoth image. We also had one posted on our homepage today. If it was a snake, it would have bit you.

Letter 7 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Hummingbird moth
This is a hummingbird moth i took a picture of in my front yard. I would like to know what kind it is. I live in washington Parish in Louisiana. Thank you,
Robert Potter

Hi Robert,
This is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth, Agrius cingulata.

Letter 8 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

What’s that bug?
I found this large moth under the patio. It measures 2-1/2 inches with its wings closed. I’ve never seen a moth this big in Torrance ( a suburb of Los Angeles). I’ve enclosed two photos. Can you tell me what kind of moth it is? Thank you very much.
Glen Yoshida

Hi Glen,
Your beautiful moth is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth.

Letter 9 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Pink Spotted Hawk Moth?
Dear Bugman:
While photographing my night-blooming cactus (in Lakeland, Florida) about 3 AM the other night, this moth showed up hovering like a hummingbird (and about as large). It went from flower to flower feeding on the blooms for several minutes before zooming off. I’ve seen a lot of these moths at rest or dead in the past, but this is the first time I’ve seen one in flight. (It’s also the first time I’ve ever seen what pollinates these cacti.) The white petals span a diameter of over 4-inches (not including the green/reddish sepals). I am amazed at the wingspan of this moth. Of all the pictures I’ve seen on your website and elsewhere, it looks most like a Pink Spotted Hawk Moth. Is that what this is? Thanks.
Steven Spake
Lakeland, FL

Hi Steven,
You are correct. We should also note that they eye of the moth is reflecting the light from your flash and does not glow of its own accord. You might be interested in knowing that when Darwin found out about a cactus in Madagascar with a ten inch long throat, he theorized that a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth must have an equally long proboscis to pollinate the flower. The moth was later discovered.

Letter 10 – Ceratomia Hawkmoth

 

moth in Ohio
Hello,
I live in Ohio. My kids and I came across this moth at our mailbox. Could you help us identify it? Thanks.
Andrea

Hi Andrea,
This is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth, Agrius cingulata. If the wings were open, you could see the distinctive pink spots on the abdomen.

Correction courtesy of a comment by Bostjan Dvorak
Sometimes they really look very similar, but I think this one is a Ceratomia species.

Letter 11 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Pink-Spotted Hawkmoth in Kea’au on Big Island of Hawai’i
Hi,
I have pics I just took of a moth here in Hawaii. I didn’t know much about moths but now after researching them I like all the different types of these hawkmoths. I see them about 2-3 times a week, but never close enough to take a picture, until tonight. Enclosed are some pictures I just took tonight (12/24/07 at 8 PM) of a Pink-Spotted Hawkmoth (Agrius cingulata). The pictures were taken just outside (and inside) my jungle cabin in Orchidland (near Kea’au) in the Puna district of the Big Island of Hawai’i. Very strong flyer with wing speed that was a blur to the naked eye, and it hummed like a hummingbird. Seemed to like me and followed me inside the house and back outside. I was just researching this cool insect and thought you might want to use the pics. Love your website.
Frank K. Ward
Kea’au, Hawai’i

Hi Frank
Thanks for sending your lovely image of a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth to our site.

Letter 12 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth
Dear Bugman:
Here is one of a series of photos that I have taken over the last few days. This Pink Spotted Hawkmoth is feeding in our garden on the numerous Moon Flowers. Please feel free to post this photo on your website. Bye for now,
Kurt K. Weiss

Hi Kurt,
Thank you for taking the time to send us a second email. There is not enough time to post every letter and image we receive, or even to answer every letter. We appreciate your patience and your lovely photograph has been posted.

Letter 13 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

pink spotted hawk moth?
Dear Bugman,,
Wanted to know if this was a pink spotted hawkmoth, There are about 7 of these moths that arrive just before twilight and stay for about an hour after dark. Thanks ,
Robert Maone
Portsmouth VA.

Hi Robert,
You have correctly identified a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth, Agrius cingulata.

Letter 14 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

I couldn’t find this moth on your site.
Hi Bugman,
Thanks for helping me with my bug questions. I found this moth hanging out on a curb at about 3am in Clarksville, Tennessee. This moth is about 3 inches or so long and its wings are colored like tree bark. I tried to scoot the moth onto my hand to take a picture, but the moth flew away, at least that’s what I thought. I noticed the moth heading towards some roses and I am proud to say I saw one of these giants feed for the first time. This moth’s proboscis has got to be at least 6 inches long and to see it "roll out" is amazing. Anyway, I couldn’t find this moth on your site, but I’m assuming it is some type of Sphynx. Anything you could tell me would be great. Thanks for your help, hard work and dedication,
Adam in Tennessee

Hi Adam,
We have several images of your species of moth, the Pink Spotted Hawkmoth, Agrius cingulata. Your action photo is quite spectacular. We are copying Bill Oehlke on this reponse since he is keeping records of the distribution of sphinx moths on his own awesome website.

Letter 15 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

 

What is it?
Hi Bugman!
This is probably nothing extraordinary, however, I have never seen it before. Any Idea what it might be? It was in the lawn near my backdoor. We are having a temperature change from 76 to 60 degrees today. I don’t know if that made him come out or not. I live in North Texas. Let me know what it is if you get a chance, Thanks,
Terry

Hi Terry,
All insects are extraordinary. This isn’t a new species for us as we have several photos of adult Pink Spotted Hawkmoths, Argias cingulata, but these are the first Caterpillar images we have received. We are thrilled to post them. They feed on morning glories.

Letter 16 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillars

 

Caterpillars
My name is Jessica Mangus. I am attaching some pictures of some very interesting caterpillars we found in our morning glories. As you can see, they are quite large (4″ to 5″ long) and very oddly colored. The horn you see is on the back end. I have attempted to find them on several web sites and have had no luck. They are completely destroying my morning glories, but, before exterminating them, I wanted to know what they are. It may be better to relocate them, or possibly even sacrifice my flowers. If you can be of any assistance, please contact me as soon as possible. Thank you.
Jessica Mangus
Odessa, Texas

Hi Jessica,
Your caterpillars with metamorphose into the lovely Pink Spotted Hawkmoth, Agrius cingulatus. This is the brown form of the caterpillar. More information can be found on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Letter 17 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Moth with a “monkey on his back”
Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 4:41 PM
Moth with a “monkey on his back”
Dear WTB,
This moth was hanging out on a birdhouse on our porch this summer. We live in Hagerstown, MD- between PA and WV. My son called out that it looked like it had a monkey face on its back- maybe a defense mechanism? Thought you might like to see it! Love your site!!
ABX Moser
The panhandle and valley of Western MD

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth
Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Dear ABX Moser,
Your Sphinx Moth is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth, Agrius cingulata which you can read more about on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website. If it had opened its wings, you would see the distinctive pink spotting on the abdomen and the pink stripes on the hind wings.

Letter 18 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

 

Large caterpillars
November 2, 2009
Hello-
I found these (2) massive caterpillars in my morning glories this morning. They were on the shady side, I guess that would be north west.  They were about three inches long and about  half an inch in diameter. I live in Bryan, Texas off West Villa Maria Rd.
Please tell me that they are not some alien invasion trying to take over Texas starting with my house!
Thank you in advance for your reply,
Nadine Harrison

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar
Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Hi Nadine,
This is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar, Agrius cingulata.  It is a highly variable caterpillar, but Bill Oehlke’s excellent website has one of similar coloration.  Feeding on morning glories was a great hint to assist in the identification.

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar
Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Letter 19 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth?
June 13, 2010
Hello Bugman: What a great site! This morning I found this large moth resting on my screen door June 13, 2010, at my lake home in northwestern Illinois. I spent a lot of time on the Internet today trying to identify him and it was harder given I didn’t spread his wings (I’m a little squeamish about moths) (too much Silence of the Lambs). Can you tell me for sure what this guy is?
Thanks, Diana R., Davis, Illinois
South facing screen door, Lake Summerset, Davis, Illinois 61019

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Hi Diana,
Congratulations on properly identifying this Pink Spotted Hawkmoth, Agrius cingulata.  That is no small feat considering that its signature coloration is hidden.  Readers who want to see the lovely pink spotting on the abdomen and the pink stripes on the underwings can see this moth on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  We are postdating this letter to go live in our absence from the office over the next week.

Letter 20 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Pink spotted hawkmoth
Location:  oklahoma city, ok
September 8, 2010 11:59 pm
I’m writing to ask you if you got my email just a few minutes ago about a possible pink spotted hawkmoth? As I was submitting the information my computer shut down?
Thanks, kim
Signature:  kim

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Hi Kim,
Thank you for sending and then resending your image of a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth,
Agrius cingulata, also known as the Sweet Potato Hornworm according to BugGuide.

Letter 21 – PInk Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Moth
Location:  Burlison, TN
September 23, 2010 9:08 am
This appears to be some sort of hawkmoth, but I am not sure. Can You identify it more specifically?
Signature:  Teia Taylor

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Hi Teia,
Your Pink Spotted Hawkmoth is one of the widest ranging members of its family in North America.

Letter 22 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Death’s Head Sphinx Moth …or not??
Location: Ridgefield, CT
September 6, 2011 3:12 pm
Hi Bugman!
Here’s a photo of the Sphinx Moth that came to my front porch two nights ago. I never trap bugs, but he was so large (4 ins.) and unusual I decided to save him for a few hours til my kids awakened and could see him. We released him at dusk the next day and he flew away in fine fettle.
I ask for an id because I read that the Death’s Head Moth is not native and not found here, but this is clearly that moth, and certainly bears the little skull that I see in pix. Also a little freaky… Help!
Signature: Helen Epley

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Good morning Helen,
Many of the Sphinx Moths bear patterns on the thoracic area that can be anthropomorphized as looking like a skull, however, the pattern on the Death’s Head Moth is much more pronounced than it is in this lovely Pink Spotted Hawkmoth,
Agrias cingulata, a species that has been reported in much of North America as well as Central and South America.  You may read more about its habits on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  BugGuidelists its range as:  “resident from southern United States to northern South America; migrates in late summer occasionally to northern states, rarely to British Columbia and southeastern Canada, and very rarely to west coast of Europe also resident in Galapagos Islands and Hawaii, and migrates in southern summer from northern South America to Argentina and Falkland Islands.”

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Thank you sooo much!  I saw the pink-spotted hawkmoth photos but couldn’t see any sort of skull in those particular photos, so I imagined the most exciting outcome!!
LOVE the site.
Helen Epley


Letter 23 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth from Brazil

 

Ed. Note:  We originally conducted an offline correspondence (without an attached photo) with Cesar entertaining the possibilities of sighting a Carolina Sphinx in Brazil, presumably outside the range.  We responded that there are many similar looking species.

Sphinx Moth
Location: Pico do Jaraguá, São Paulo, Brazil
January 16, 2012 6:42 pm
As you suspected, my picture does not match with Carolina Hawk Moth.
Now, I think it is more related to Agrius singulata, the Pink-spotted Hawkmoth http://bugguide.net/node/view/339497/bgpage [and]
http://www.silkmoths.bizland.com/Sphinx/acingula.htm
It seems that I am more southern, anyway.
Signature: Cesar Crash

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Hi again Cesar,
We agree that this is most likely a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth.  Often moths with brown forewings have distinctive hind wings.  The underwings on this species are black and pink striped and the pink spots associated with the name can be found on the body.  Gently nudging the moth might have caused it to display the distinctive pink coloration.

Letter 24 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Subject: What’s this bug?!
Location: On brick wall of CVS in Franklin Square NY
October 8, 2013 6:40 am
This bug is HUGE and scaring the customers and employees at CVS. Please help us identify it so we can reassure everyone that it is not an ancestor of Godzilla.
Signature: -CVS 2365

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth
Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Dear CVS 2365,
This is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth and it poses no threat.

Letter 25 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar from Hawaii

 

Subject: Hawaiian Hornworm?
Location: Hawaii
January 2, 2014 8:45 pm
Aloha! I saw this caterpillar while on a hike of western Oahu. The area was near the ocean and windy. I’m questioning if it might be related to the tomato/tobacco hornworm family.
Signature: Matt

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar
Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Matt,
You are correct that this is a Hornworm in the Sphingidae family.  We looked through the Sphingidae of Hawaii where we thought the closest match was
Agrius cingulata, the caterpillar of a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth.  We checked that on BugGuide where we found an individual that looks very similar to your caterpillar.  Agrius cingulata is a highly variable caterpillar and this is just one possible color variation.

Letter 26 – Waved Sphinx or Pink Spotted Hawkmoth from Canada

 

Subject: Unknown Moth
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
July 3, 2015 7:27 pm
Hi! Found this moth on our window screen around midnight. I would appreciate any help! Thank you.
Signature: Jordan Skaarup

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth
Waved Sphinx or Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Hi Jordan,
The pretty pink coloring and markings on the body and underwings of this Pink Spotted Hawkmoth,
Agrias cingulata, are hidden by the upper wings in your image.  See Sphingidae of the Americas for more information on the Pink Spotted Hawkmoth.

Update:  July 4, 2015
Might this be a Waved Sphinx as Cesar Crash thinks?  Here is a BugGuide image.  The two look quite similar to us.

Letter 27 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

 

Subject: Snail like creature
Location: Carlsbad California
October 19, 2015 4:51 am
I found this slug type creature in my garage one morning. When I moved it outside I saw several legs on the back side. It was living When I came home from work it was gone. Can you please identify it for me.
Very curious.
Signature: Darcie Gorman

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar
Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Darcie,
This Hornworm is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar, and it is a species with a highly variably colored caterpillar, but this image on BugGuide matches the coloration on your individual.  It is most likely getting ready to pupate, and it will do that after digging into the earth when it finds a suitable location.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas), jimsonweed (Datura spp.), pawpaw (Asimina spp.), and other plants in the Potato (Solanaceae) and Morning-glory (Convolvulaceae) families.”  That would indicate you have one of those plants nearby.  Datura is a common roadside plant in Southern California.

Letter 28 – Pupa of a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Subject:  wHATS IS THIS BUG?
Geographic location of the bug:  FRANKLIN NC
Date: 12/27/2018
Time: 01:46 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I FOUND THIS UNDERNEATH A PIECE OF WOOD
How you want your letter signed:  HOFF

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Pupa

Dear HOFF,
This is the pupa of a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae.  Based on the look of the proboscis casing (what looks like a handle on the pupa) we are confident that this is the pupa of a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth when compared to this image on BugGuide.  The adult Pink Spotted Hawkmoth should emerge this spring provided it survives the winter.  To help ensure its survival, you should gently replace the wood.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar from Hawaii

 

what is this?
Location: Honolulu Manoa Valley
July 3, 2011 3:20 pm
Found this caterpillar in my yard in Manoa Valley in Honolulu, Hawaii in some ginger and monstera and next to a crown flowers tree.
Signature: Beth

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Hi Beth,
The Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar,
Agrius cingulata, is also found throughout much of North, Central and South America and it was most likely introduced to Hawaii.  The caterpillar is highly variable, and the Sphingidae of the Americas website does not depict this particular variation on the standard species page, however is you scroll down the Sphingidae of the Americas Hawaii page, you will see an example of this color variation.

Thanks for the quick identification! Am checking the sites you mention and googling others to see what else I can learn about this caterpillar. I see it is also referred to as the sweet potato hawkmoth. Do they feed on sweet potato? I am growing a lot of sweet potatoes in my garden. But I found this one over by my ginger. Also near my crown flower tree. I know the monarchs like the crown flower.
Do you know what this species eats? Or anything more about their life cycle.
Aloha,
Beth

Hi again Beth,
According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas), jimsonweed (Datura spp.), pawpaw (Asimina spp.), and other plants in the Potato (Solanaceae) and Morning-glory (Convolvulaceae) families.  Adults take nectar from deep-throated flowers such as morning-glory (Convolvulus spp).”

Letter 2 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar from Hawaii

 

Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Honaunau Hawaii
Date: 01/17/2018
Time: 07:25 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Do you know what this is?
How you want your letter signed:  Sharon

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Sharon,
This Hornworm is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar,
Agrius cingulata, and you can find similar images on the Sphingidae of Hawaii page.

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Letter 3 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 


Perhaps you can add this photo to your collection I have another full-back view if you would like for me to send it. I’m hoping to take a photo of a sphinx caterpillar some day. This moth visits my Ginger lilies each fall. I live in Jacksonville, NC.
Peg

Dear Peg,
Thank you for the beautiful photo of a Pink-spotted hawkmoth (Agrius cingulata [Fabricius]) . The caterpillars feed on jimson weed and sweet potato as well as related plants. Try looking for them there. Good luck.

Letter 4 – Pink Spotted Hawk Moth

 

Help with ID
Hi,
We need help in identifying this beautiful guy. He was flying like a hummingbird after dark one evening. The next morning he was sitting on a screen door and allowed the owner to move him from the screen door to the porch rail post. The stayed there all day, allowed us to "pet" him at which point he opened his wings and allowed the colored body to show. His body length was 2-2 1/2" long. He left after dark the next day. This spotting is in Pharr Texas.
Thanks
Ken Saylor

Hi Ken,
This is a Pink Spotted Hawk Moth, Agrius cingulatus. It is in the family Sphingidae, also known as Sphinx Moths or Hummingbird Moths.

Letter 5 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Hawk Moth?
I saw your sight and was wondering if the attached picture is a hawk moth. I took it on the North Carolina coast in September.
Thanks
Sid Cullingham

Hi Sid,
Nice photo of a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth.

Letter 6 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Sphinx Moth
Hi. I took this photo of a Sphinx Moth feeding on our petunias during the night. What kind of Sphinx Moth is this one? Thank you.
Craig

Hi Craig,
Beautiful Pink Spotted Hawkmoth image. We also had one posted on our homepage today. If it was a snake, it would have bit you.

Letter 7 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Hummingbird moth
This is a hummingbird moth i took a picture of in my front yard. I would like to know what kind it is. I live in washington Parish in Louisiana. Thank you,
Robert Potter

Hi Robert,
This is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth, Agrius cingulata.

Letter 8 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

What’s that bug?
I found this large moth under the patio. It measures 2-1/2 inches with its wings closed. I’ve never seen a moth this big in Torrance ( a suburb of Los Angeles). I’ve enclosed two photos. Can you tell me what kind of moth it is? Thank you very much.
Glen Yoshida

Hi Glen,
Your beautiful moth is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth.

Letter 9 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Pink Spotted Hawk Moth?
Dear Bugman:
While photographing my night-blooming cactus (in Lakeland, Florida) about 3 AM the other night, this moth showed up hovering like a hummingbird (and about as large). It went from flower to flower feeding on the blooms for several minutes before zooming off. I’ve seen a lot of these moths at rest or dead in the past, but this is the first time I’ve seen one in flight. (It’s also the first time I’ve ever seen what pollinates these cacti.) The white petals span a diameter of over 4-inches (not including the green/reddish sepals). I am amazed at the wingspan of this moth. Of all the pictures I’ve seen on your website and elsewhere, it looks most like a Pink Spotted Hawk Moth. Is that what this is? Thanks.
Steven Spake
Lakeland, FL

Hi Steven,
You are correct. We should also note that they eye of the moth is reflecting the light from your flash and does not glow of its own accord. You might be interested in knowing that when Darwin found out about a cactus in Madagascar with a ten inch long throat, he theorized that a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth must have an equally long proboscis to pollinate the flower. The moth was later discovered.

Letter 10 – Ceratomia Hawkmoth

 

moth in Ohio
Hello,
I live in Ohio. My kids and I came across this moth at our mailbox. Could you help us identify it? Thanks.
Andrea

Hi Andrea,
This is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth, Agrius cingulata. If the wings were open, you could see the distinctive pink spots on the abdomen.

Correction courtesy of a comment by Bostjan Dvorak
Sometimes they really look very similar, but I think this one is a Ceratomia species.

Letter 11 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Pink-Spotted Hawkmoth in Kea’au on Big Island of Hawai’i
Hi,
I have pics I just took of a moth here in Hawaii. I didn’t know much about moths but now after researching them I like all the different types of these hawkmoths. I see them about 2-3 times a week, but never close enough to take a picture, until tonight. Enclosed are some pictures I just took tonight (12/24/07 at 8 PM) of a Pink-Spotted Hawkmoth (Agrius cingulata). The pictures were taken just outside (and inside) my jungle cabin in Orchidland (near Kea’au) in the Puna district of the Big Island of Hawai’i. Very strong flyer with wing speed that was a blur to the naked eye, and it hummed like a hummingbird. Seemed to like me and followed me inside the house and back outside. I was just researching this cool insect and thought you might want to use the pics. Love your website.
Frank K. Ward
Kea’au, Hawai’i

Hi Frank
Thanks for sending your lovely image of a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth to our site.

Letter 12 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth
Dear Bugman:
Here is one of a series of photos that I have taken over the last few days. This Pink Spotted Hawkmoth is feeding in our garden on the numerous Moon Flowers. Please feel free to post this photo on your website. Bye for now,
Kurt K. Weiss

Hi Kurt,
Thank you for taking the time to send us a second email. There is not enough time to post every letter and image we receive, or even to answer every letter. We appreciate your patience and your lovely photograph has been posted.

Letter 13 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

pink spotted hawk moth?
Dear Bugman,,
Wanted to know if this was a pink spotted hawkmoth, There are about 7 of these moths that arrive just before twilight and stay for about an hour after dark. Thanks ,
Robert Maone
Portsmouth VA.

Hi Robert,
You have correctly identified a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth, Agrius cingulata.

Letter 14 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

I couldn’t find this moth on your site.
Hi Bugman,
Thanks for helping me with my bug questions. I found this moth hanging out on a curb at about 3am in Clarksville, Tennessee. This moth is about 3 inches or so long and its wings are colored like tree bark. I tried to scoot the moth onto my hand to take a picture, but the moth flew away, at least that’s what I thought. I noticed the moth heading towards some roses and I am proud to say I saw one of these giants feed for the first time. This moth’s proboscis has got to be at least 6 inches long and to see it "roll out" is amazing. Anyway, I couldn’t find this moth on your site, but I’m assuming it is some type of Sphynx. Anything you could tell me would be great. Thanks for your help, hard work and dedication,
Adam in Tennessee

Hi Adam,
We have several images of your species of moth, the Pink Spotted Hawkmoth, Agrius cingulata. Your action photo is quite spectacular. We are copying Bill Oehlke on this reponse since he is keeping records of the distribution of sphinx moths on his own awesome website.

Letter 15 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

 

What is it?
Hi Bugman!
This is probably nothing extraordinary, however, I have never seen it before. Any Idea what it might be? It was in the lawn near my backdoor. We are having a temperature change from 76 to 60 degrees today. I don’t know if that made him come out or not. I live in North Texas. Let me know what it is if you get a chance, Thanks,
Terry

Hi Terry,
All insects are extraordinary. This isn’t a new species for us as we have several photos of adult Pink Spotted Hawkmoths, Argias cingulata, but these are the first Caterpillar images we have received. We are thrilled to post them. They feed on morning glories.

Letter 16 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillars

 

Caterpillars
My name is Jessica Mangus. I am attaching some pictures of some very interesting caterpillars we found in our morning glories. As you can see, they are quite large (4″ to 5″ long) and very oddly colored. The horn you see is on the back end. I have attempted to find them on several web sites and have had no luck. They are completely destroying my morning glories, but, before exterminating them, I wanted to know what they are. It may be better to relocate them, or possibly even sacrifice my flowers. If you can be of any assistance, please contact me as soon as possible. Thank you.
Jessica Mangus
Odessa, Texas

Hi Jessica,
Your caterpillars with metamorphose into the lovely Pink Spotted Hawkmoth, Agrius cingulatus. This is the brown form of the caterpillar. More information can be found on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Letter 17 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Moth with a “monkey on his back”
Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 4:41 PM
Moth with a “monkey on his back”
Dear WTB,
This moth was hanging out on a birdhouse on our porch this summer. We live in Hagerstown, MD- between PA and WV. My son called out that it looked like it had a monkey face on its back- maybe a defense mechanism? Thought you might like to see it! Love your site!!
ABX Moser
The panhandle and valley of Western MD

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth
Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Dear ABX Moser,
Your Sphinx Moth is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth, Agrius cingulata which you can read more about on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website. If it had opened its wings, you would see the distinctive pink spotting on the abdomen and the pink stripes on the hind wings.

Letter 18 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

 

Large caterpillars
November 2, 2009
Hello-
I found these (2) massive caterpillars in my morning glories this morning. They were on the shady side, I guess that would be north west.  They were about three inches long and about  half an inch in diameter. I live in Bryan, Texas off West Villa Maria Rd.
Please tell me that they are not some alien invasion trying to take over Texas starting with my house!
Thank you in advance for your reply,
Nadine Harrison

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar
Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Hi Nadine,
This is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar, Agrius cingulata.  It is a highly variable caterpillar, but Bill Oehlke’s excellent website has one of similar coloration.  Feeding on morning glories was a great hint to assist in the identification.

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar
Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Letter 19 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth?
June 13, 2010
Hello Bugman: What a great site! This morning I found this large moth resting on my screen door June 13, 2010, at my lake home in northwestern Illinois. I spent a lot of time on the Internet today trying to identify him and it was harder given I didn’t spread his wings (I’m a little squeamish about moths) (too much Silence of the Lambs). Can you tell me for sure what this guy is?
Thanks, Diana R., Davis, Illinois
South facing screen door, Lake Summerset, Davis, Illinois 61019

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Hi Diana,
Congratulations on properly identifying this Pink Spotted Hawkmoth, Agrius cingulata.  That is no small feat considering that its signature coloration is hidden.  Readers who want to see the lovely pink spotting on the abdomen and the pink stripes on the underwings can see this moth on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  We are postdating this letter to go live in our absence from the office over the next week.

Letter 20 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Pink spotted hawkmoth
Location:  oklahoma city, ok
September 8, 2010 11:59 pm
I’m writing to ask you if you got my email just a few minutes ago about a possible pink spotted hawkmoth? As I was submitting the information my computer shut down?
Thanks, kim
Signature:  kim

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Hi Kim,
Thank you for sending and then resending your image of a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth,
Agrius cingulata, also known as the Sweet Potato Hornworm according to BugGuide.

Letter 21 – PInk Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Moth
Location:  Burlison, TN
September 23, 2010 9:08 am
This appears to be some sort of hawkmoth, but I am not sure. Can You identify it more specifically?
Signature:  Teia Taylor

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Hi Teia,
Your Pink Spotted Hawkmoth is one of the widest ranging members of its family in North America.

Letter 22 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Death’s Head Sphinx Moth …or not??
Location: Ridgefield, CT
September 6, 2011 3:12 pm
Hi Bugman!
Here’s a photo of the Sphinx Moth that came to my front porch two nights ago. I never trap bugs, but he was so large (4 ins.) and unusual I decided to save him for a few hours til my kids awakened and could see him. We released him at dusk the next day and he flew away in fine fettle.
I ask for an id because I read that the Death’s Head Moth is not native and not found here, but this is clearly that moth, and certainly bears the little skull that I see in pix. Also a little freaky… Help!
Signature: Helen Epley

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Good morning Helen,
Many of the Sphinx Moths bear patterns on the thoracic area that can be anthropomorphized as looking like a skull, however, the pattern on the Death’s Head Moth is much more pronounced than it is in this lovely Pink Spotted Hawkmoth,
Agrias cingulata, a species that has been reported in much of North America as well as Central and South America.  You may read more about its habits on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  BugGuidelists its range as:  “resident from southern United States to northern South America; migrates in late summer occasionally to northern states, rarely to British Columbia and southeastern Canada, and very rarely to west coast of Europe also resident in Galapagos Islands and Hawaii, and migrates in southern summer from northern South America to Argentina and Falkland Islands.”

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Thank you sooo much!  I saw the pink-spotted hawkmoth photos but couldn’t see any sort of skull in those particular photos, so I imagined the most exciting outcome!!
LOVE the site.
Helen Epley


Letter 23 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth from Brazil

 

Ed. Note:  We originally conducted an offline correspondence (without an attached photo) with Cesar entertaining the possibilities of sighting a Carolina Sphinx in Brazil, presumably outside the range.  We responded that there are many similar looking species.

Sphinx Moth
Location: Pico do Jaraguá, São Paulo, Brazil
January 16, 2012 6:42 pm
As you suspected, my picture does not match with Carolina Hawk Moth.
Now, I think it is more related to Agrius singulata, the Pink-spotted Hawkmoth http://bugguide.net/node/view/339497/bgpage [and]
http://www.silkmoths.bizland.com/Sphinx/acingula.htm
It seems that I am more southern, anyway.
Signature: Cesar Crash

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Hi again Cesar,
We agree that this is most likely a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth.  Often moths with brown forewings have distinctive hind wings.  The underwings on this species are black and pink striped and the pink spots associated with the name can be found on the body.  Gently nudging the moth might have caused it to display the distinctive pink coloration.

Letter 24 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Subject: What’s this bug?!
Location: On brick wall of CVS in Franklin Square NY
October 8, 2013 6:40 am
This bug is HUGE and scaring the customers and employees at CVS. Please help us identify it so we can reassure everyone that it is not an ancestor of Godzilla.
Signature: -CVS 2365

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth
Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Dear CVS 2365,
This is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth and it poses no threat.

Letter 25 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar from Hawaii

 

Subject: Hawaiian Hornworm?
Location: Hawaii
January 2, 2014 8:45 pm
Aloha! I saw this caterpillar while on a hike of western Oahu. The area was near the ocean and windy. I’m questioning if it might be related to the tomato/tobacco hornworm family.
Signature: Matt

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar
Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Matt,
You are correct that this is a Hornworm in the Sphingidae family.  We looked through the Sphingidae of Hawaii where we thought the closest match was
Agrius cingulata, the caterpillar of a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth.  We checked that on BugGuide where we found an individual that looks very similar to your caterpillar.  Agrius cingulata is a highly variable caterpillar and this is just one possible color variation.

Letter 26 – Waved Sphinx or Pink Spotted Hawkmoth from Canada

 

Subject: Unknown Moth
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
July 3, 2015 7:27 pm
Hi! Found this moth on our window screen around midnight. I would appreciate any help! Thank you.
Signature: Jordan Skaarup

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth
Waved Sphinx or Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Hi Jordan,
The pretty pink coloring and markings on the body and underwings of this Pink Spotted Hawkmoth,
Agrias cingulata, are hidden by the upper wings in your image.  See Sphingidae of the Americas for more information on the Pink Spotted Hawkmoth.

Update:  July 4, 2015
Might this be a Waved Sphinx as Cesar Crash thinks?  Here is a BugGuide image.  The two look quite similar to us.

Letter 27 – Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

 

Subject: Snail like creature
Location: Carlsbad California
October 19, 2015 4:51 am
I found this slug type creature in my garage one morning. When I moved it outside I saw several legs on the back side. It was living When I came home from work it was gone. Can you please identify it for me.
Very curious.
Signature: Darcie Gorman

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar
Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Darcie,
This Hornworm is a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Caterpillar, and it is a species with a highly variably colored caterpillar, but this image on BugGuide matches the coloration on your individual.  It is most likely getting ready to pupate, and it will do that after digging into the earth when it finds a suitable location.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas), jimsonweed (Datura spp.), pawpaw (Asimina spp.), and other plants in the Potato (Solanaceae) and Morning-glory (Convolvulaceae) families.”  That would indicate you have one of those plants nearby.  Datura is a common roadside plant in Southern California.

Letter 28 – Pupa of a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

 

Subject:  wHATS IS THIS BUG?
Geographic location of the bug:  FRANKLIN NC
Date: 12/27/2018
Time: 01:46 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I FOUND THIS UNDERNEATH A PIECE OF WOOD
How you want your letter signed:  HOFF

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth Pupa

Dear HOFF,
This is the pupa of a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae.  Based on the look of the proboscis casing (what looks like a handle on the pupa) we are confident that this is the pupa of a Pink Spotted Hawkmoth when compared to this image on BugGuide.  The adult Pink Spotted Hawkmoth should emerge this spring provided it survives the winter.  To help ensure its survival, you should gently replace the wood.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

19 thoughts on “Pink Spotted Hawkmoth: Essential Facts for Enthusiasts”

  1. Good day. I found one of these in my back yard and it’s a beautiful specimen. Do they normally travel in the Southern California area?

    Reply
  2. RE: Honolulu, HI hawk moth caterpillars. I have many of the same on my Morning Glories in Kaimuki near Kapahulu 1.jpeg/Users/MariaMcClellan/Desktop/securedownload.jpeg
    /Users/MariaMcClellan/Desktop/securedownload.jpeg

    Reply
  3. RE: Honolulu, HI hawk moth caterpillars. I have many of the same on my Morning Glories in Kaimuki near Kapahulu 1.jpeg/Users/MariaMcClellan/Desktop/securedownload.jpeg
    /Users/MariaMcClellan/Desktop/securedownload.jpeg

    Reply
  4. just found the same caterpillar in my sweet potato bucket! Looked it up and found your image- same markings as the one you posted- green with brown markings like twigs down the sides! What did you do with yours? We don’t know whether it will form a chrysalis or if it is poisonous!

    Reply
    • According to Sphingidae of the Americas: “Larvae feed on plants in the Convolvulaceae family, especially Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato) and in the Solanaceae family, especially (Datura) (jimsonweed) and related plants in the Americas.” According to BugGuide: “Larvae feed on Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas), jimsonweed (Datura spp.), pawpaw (Asimina spp.), and other plants in the Potato (Solanaceae) and Morning-glory (Convolvulaceae) families.” If you found the caterpillar on a palm, it was either a different species or it was not feeding.

      Reply
  5. Hi everyone we found one in our sweet potatoes patch. They are creepy looking and was worried about it attacking us in the middle of the night while we sleep, but after reading a few comments we will out it back in the yard to pupate.

    Reply
  6. We found this same looking caterpillar under our doorstep after the heavy rains…my daughter google imaged it and that’s how we found out what it was. We found it on 1/15 and I took it to school for my 3rd graders to witness the cycles and to learn about it. As of today 1/21 he is now in his cocoon and hopefully in 10 days we can witness it transforming !! My class is so excited as they have never seen anything like it, nor have I! What a great learning opportunity we have been blessed with to witness !!

    Reply
  7. Found on Big Island 8 miles outside of Pahoa in Puna District.
    We love our sweet potatoes and choose to feed it to the chickens.

    Reply
  8. I found a few of these horn worms on my morning glory plants a couple of weeks ago. It took a while to find an identification of them where I live as I believe they are more typically found in southern US. I live in New Hampshire and we were having pretty cold nights already. I re-homed a couple of them indoors right before they were entering their pupa phase. They’ve done really well and just formed their pupa where they will stay over winter. Looking forward to seeing them transform in the spring!

    Reply

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