Sphinx Moth Pupa

What is this thing?
Location: Tucson, AZ
March 29, 2012 4:34 pm
I dug up a dying plant in my front yard today and came across this weird bug. There was actually 2 but one got in the shovel’s way. It has a hard maroon colored shell and this tail-like thing that curls around to the top. It doesn’t have any legs but its like no worm I’ve ever seen. We live in southeastern Arizona and its spring.
Signature: Madison

Sphinx Moth Pupa

Dear Madison,
This is the pupa of a Sphinx Moth.  If you are able to identify the plant you dug up, we might be able to provide the species identity of the moth for you.

4 thoughts on “Sphinx Moth Pupa”

  1. Hello,

    this is a nice discovery of Manduca pupae! As already said, the concrete species can easily be defined by the plants growing in the area, specially when You see some traces on them… According to the length and shape of the proboscis case, they could be either of Manduca sexta or Manduca rustica. The first one’s caterpillar lives on Solanaceae (jimsonweed, tobacco, pepper, boxthorn, tomato, potato and others), and the species is a beneficiary of cultivated zones in the last time – the green larvae have white stripes. a reddish horn and some blackish patterns, whereas the other’s one is green with purple, yellow, blue and white lateral stripes, and grows on Bignoniaceae (eg. Catalpa), Boraginaceae (eg. borage) and Oleaceae (eg. privet) – in Your region it is found predominantly on a plant named “desert willow” – Chilopsis linearis from the Bignoniaceae family. Both species are migrators from more southern countries, and the beautiful fast flying moths feed nectar hovering above the flowers like a humming bird. – What was the other pupa like and how deep did You find them burrowed in the soil?

    Nice wishes from Berlin, and happy Easter!


  2. That looks more like Manduca rustica to me. The moth will have only 3 orange abdominal spots on each oblique side. It will also show a lot of irregular white splotches about wings and a white, not grey ventral side.
    Their larvae are also among our larger and most beautiful hornworms.


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