Tersa Sphinx Pupa

Larva? Chrysalis?
Location: Pensacola, FL (FL Panhandle)
March 22, 2011 10:19 pm
Hi! I’ve used this website numerous times to help identify strange insects discovered here in the Florida Panhandle. I came across this one (pictured) while pulling weeds along the side of the house. It was about 11 am, and I don’t know if it was underground and I uncovered it while pulling weeds, or if it was above ground and I just happened to notice it. This was discovered on March 20th, and I am located in Pensacola, FL. The ground it was discovered in is almost continuously shaded and moist. The part resembling a point or ”stinger” moved back and forth seemingly as in a self-defense posture. At first I thought it was a cacoon or chrysallis of some sorth, but the segmented portion caused me to rethink that. Total length is about 1 to 1 1/4 inches. Thanks for your help!
Signature: Bart Macmanus

Tersa Sphinx Pupa

Hi Bart,
We cannot ever recall responding to you in the past, so the numerous times you have used our website in the past must have been unassisted usages, meaning you were able to self identify.  This is the Pupa of a Tersa Sphinx Moth.  You can see images of the entire life cycle of the Tersa Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  We suspect this Tersa Sphinx Pupa was buried just beneath the surface and you unearthed it while weeding.  The adult moths are quite aerodynamic.  The segmented abdomen is the only part of most butterfly and moth pupae that is capable of moving.

You are correct!  I have used this website numerous times for self-identification of certain insects, but this is my first submission.  In fact, about 30 minutes after I submitted my query, I was STILL searching and finally came across one just like this and knew right away what it was.  The link you posted on that submission led me to a few pictures of the Sphinx Moth, which I gladly showed my wife.  It is now sitting in the kitchen in a container awaiting the emergence of the grown adult.  I appreciate all the work that goes into your website, and especially the quick turnaround on my question.  Incidently, the last time I used your website, it was to identify one of the various Eyed Elater species.  Thanks again!

Thanks for the update Bart.  If you are going to try to witness the metamorphosis, make sure the pupa can breath.  A large mouth bottle with some damp (not too wet but also not bone dry) potting soil in the bottom and a cheese cloth or netting cover should work fine.  Keep the pupa at approximately the same temperature as the air outside to ensure there is not a premature metamorphosis.

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