Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth: Essential Guide for Enthusiasts

The Virginia Creeper Sphinx moth is a fascinating creature worth learning about. This large, heavy-bodied moth has a long, pointed abdomen and boasts an array of colors on its wings, such as dark brown, tan, gray, or olive green. Sporting a dark dot approximately in the middle of each forewing, these captivating insects will surely grab your attention link to:.

As you dive deeper into the world of these intriguing moths, you’ll discover their unique behaviors and the vital role they play in the ecosystem. With larvae known as hornworms, they exhibit a distinct resting posture reminiscent of the ancient Sphinx, which inspired their name link to:. Taking the time to learn more about the Virginia Creeper Sphinx moth will undoubtedly enhance your appreciation for the rich complexity of nature.

Identification and Description

Physical Characteristics

The Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth is a large, heavy-bodied moth with a long, pointed abdomen. The size varies, but these moths are typically substantial in appearance. Their larvae, or caterpillars, have a unique behavior when threatened – they lift the front of their body and tuck their head under, resembling the ancient Sphinx.

Color Variation

  • Dark Brown: Some Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moths have dark brown bands on the top of their forewings.
  • Tan: Other specimens of this species can be found with tan bands on their forewings.
  • Gray: Gray bands can also be present on the forewings, giving the moth a more muted appearance.
  • Olive Green: A more unusual color variation is the presence of olive green bands on the forewings.
  • Orange or Rusty: The hindwings of the Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth are often orange or rusty in color, but these are usually covered by the folded forewings.

In addition to the color variations, you can identify a Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth by the dark dot located approximately in the middle of the forewing. This distinctive feature makes it easier for you to recognize this beautiful moth.

It is essential to be familiar with the physical characteristics and color variations of the Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth. This knowledge will help you appreciate and better understand this remarkable insect.

Taxonomy and Scientific Classification

Scientific Name

The Virginia Creeper Sphinx moth, also known as Darapsa myron, is a fascinating and distinctive moth species. This moth is named after the plant it primarily feeds on, the Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).

Family

The Virginia Creeper Sphinx moth belongs to the family Sphingidae, commonly known as Sphinx moths. This family is within the order Lepidoptera, which consists of butterflies and moths. With many diverse species in this group, Sphingidae moths are known for their unique features and behaviors.

Some key characteristics of Sphinx moths include:

  • Large, heavy-bodied moths
  • Pointed abdomen
  • Unique larval behavior reminiscent of an Egyptian Sphinx

As a member of the family Sphingidae, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx moth shares these traits with other Sphinx moth species. However, it’s distinguished by its color patterns and specific feeding preferences. Here’s a quick comparison of the Virginia Creeper Sphinx moth with other Sphinx moths:

Taxon Darapsa Myron (Virginia Creeper Sphinx) Other Sphinx Moths
Order Lepidoptera Lepidoptera
Family Sphingidae Sphingidae
Wings Dark brown, tan, gray, or olive green Varies
Hindwings Orange or rusty Varies
Larval Hosts Virginia Creeper Varies, depending on species

In conclusion, understanding the taxonomy and scientific classification of the Virginia Creeper Sphinx moth sheds light on its unique attributes and connection to other species within the Sphingidae family and Lepidoptera order. This beautiful and interesting moth is just one example of the incredible diversity found in the insect world.

Habitat and Distribution

Woodlands and Brushy Areas

The Virginia creeper sphinx moth thrives in woodlands and brushy areas. This large, heavy-bodied moth prefers habitats with abundant vegetation where its host plants, such as Virginia creeper, can be found. In these environments, the moth can easily find food sources, shelter, and breeding locations.

Geographical Range

The moth’s geographical range is quite extensive, spanning from Florida in the south to Maine in the north, extending westward to North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Texas. The species can even be found southward in Mexico, though it is absent from South Florida. This adaptability allows the Virginia creeper sphinx moth to prosper across different climates and conditions within its range.

Some key points about the moth’s habitat and distribution:

  • Prefers woodlands and brushy areas with abundant vegetation
  • Host plants include Virginia creeper
  • Range spans from Florida to Maine and westward to North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Texas
  • Also found in Mexico, but not in South Florida

The Virginia creeper sphinx moth’s wide range and adaptability to various habitats make it a fascinating species to study and observe. Keep an eye out for this marvelous creature during your next woodland adventure!

Life Cycle and Reproduction

Larvae

The life cycle of the Virginia creeper sphinx moth begins with the larval stage. These caterpillars are large and have a distinctive feature: a horn-like projection on the first abdominal segment. Young caterpillars are green, but as they grow, they develop a variety of colors, including yellow, brown, and red.

  • Horn-like projection on the first abdominal segment
  • Color change as the caterpillar grows

These larvae primarily feed on Virginia creeper and grapevines. They eventually reach a length of up to 2 inches, before preparing to transition into the next stage of their life cycle.

Eggs and Broods

Adult female moths lay eggs on the host plants, which will be the food source for the larvae. Most moth species, including the Virginia creeper sphinx moth, are highly fertile and lay many eggs. The moth usually produces two broods in a year, one in late spring and another in midsummer.

  • Two broods per year: late spring and midsummer
  • Eggs are laid on host plants

Adult Moths

When the caterpillars complete their growth, they transform into adult moths through a process called metamorphosis. Adult Virginia creeper sphinx moths have a distinct appearance with broad bands of dark brown, tan, gray, or olive green on their forewings, a dark dot in the middle, and orange or rusty hindwings.

  • Metamorphosis from caterpillar to adult moth
  • Unique banded forewing pattern and orange hindwings

These moths are nocturnal and are active during the night. They continue the cycle of reproduction, laying eggs and giving rise to the next generation of Virginia creeper sphinx moths.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Food for Larvae

Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth larvae primarily feed on the leaves of Virginia Creeper, Grape, and Viburnum plants. These food plants provide essential nutrients for the healthy growth and development of the larvae. Some typical examples of their preferred plants include:

  • Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
  • Grape (Vitis spp.)
  • Viburnum (Viburnum spp.)

Larvae are also known to consume other plant species, however, they show a preference for these three types.

Adult Food Sources

As adults, Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moths nourish themselves by sipping nectar from flowers. They have a long proboscis that enables them to reach the nectar of a variety of flowers, catering to their dietary needs. Some common flowers and plants they visit for nectar include:

  • Flowers with long tubular shapes
  • Nocturnal blooming flowers

During their nectar-feeding sessions, these moths inadvertently help in pollination, as they transfer pollen while moving from flower to flower. It is worth noting that while adult moths feed on floral nectar, they consume significantly fewer insects, unlike in their larval stage.

Behavior and Conservation

Attraction to Lights

Virginia Creeper Sphinx moths are known for being attracted to lights. This could be due to their nocturnal habits and their need to navigate during the night. If you have outdoor lights, you might spot these moths around your home after dusk.

Conservation Efforts

Conservation efforts for the Virginia Creeper Sphinx moth are crucial to maintain their population. Some activities you can engage in to help this species include:

  • Planting native plants that serve as their larval food source, such as Virginia Creeper
  • Limiting pesticide use in your garden to preserve moth populations and the insects they feed on
  • Providing a pesticide-free sanctuary for these moths to live and reproduce

By following these steps, you can contribute to the conservation of the Virginia Creeper Sphinx moth, ensuring its place in the ecosystem and enabling future generations to enjoy its beauty.

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 – Virginia Creeper Sphinx

 

a couple of photos and a moth ID
Hello
I wanted to let you know I love the site, and have used it for many identification forays since we moved out to the country here in south central Kansas. I also wanted send you to the url for three of my recent photos. (they are larger than I like to send through E-mail) One is of a mating pair of robber flies, it was interesting to watch as the male will vibrate his wings while wiggling the females head with his front legs. One is a photo of a green moth I found on the front deck this last night and I would appreciate any help with the ID you could give me. The last if of a green grasshopper. I do not know the species, but considering the number of them again this year, the chickens will be getting quite fat.
Thanks again,
William Tong

Hi William,
Thank you so much for the great letter and photos. We are also very happy that you have used the site in the past. Quite frankly, we are getting a little tired of responding to desperate housewives with pantry beetles. Your green moth is a Virginia Creeper Sphinx, Darapsa myron. If you go to this USGS site, you might find it is not yet reported in your county. Perhaps you could report the siting. We are thrilled to have your Mating Robber Fly image for our brand new Love Among the Bugs page. Your grasshopper is immature and we do not recognize it.

Letter 2 – Virginia Creeper Sphinx

 

Virginia Creeper moth
Good evening Mr. Bugman,
I just discovered your site today, and as an inveterate 1. namer, 2. shutterbug (didn’t find that one on your site) and especially 3. macro fiend I was more than delighted! I’ve already ID’d several ‘bugs’ that had been bugging me. Thank you so much. I’ve attached 5 photos – 4 I know, and one I’d like to confirm. I live in Orange County, VIRGINIA – the north central piedmont of the state. All photos have been taken within a 4 mile radius of Orange, VA (county seat). If you don’t object, I’ll send others of insects you don’t appear to have – and maybe a few that I need help with. I just don’t want to overdo it in my enthusiasm for your site. What a great service, and I’ll add that no insects are harmed in the photographic process. They are either in the wild or occasionally found deceased, although no deceased ones in this group. Virginia Creeper moth, (Darapsa myron) – actually, I found this beauty in the porta-john adjacent to the archaeological site I was working on. I rescued it, photographed it, let it go its way. Saw only one picture of this one and thought you might like another (May/June 2004) Thanks again for the wonderful site!
Best regards,
Lynne
Orange, VA

Hi Lynne,
We are overwhelmed by all the images you sent in. In the future, please send only one image or one species per letter. It makes our lives so much easier. Thanks so much for expressing your enthusiasm. We are thrilled to have a new image of a Virginia Creeper Sphinx, Darapsa myron.

Letter 3 – Mysterious Sphinx from North Carolina is Virginia Creeper Sphinx

 

a picture for you
Bugman,
this is an unidentified sphinx that I suspect is in the genus Eumorpha but doesn’t match the plates in Covell. I photographed it around June 25 at my porch located at 3500 feet elevation in the blue ridge mountains of nw North Carolina. Any help with id would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,
J. M. Lynch

hi J.M.,
Your mysterious Sphinx most closely resembles the Achemon Sphinx, Eumorpha achemon, that ranges in North Carolina, but the markings don’t look correct. The camera angle of your photo is not ideal for exact identification as there is some perspective distortion that could be confusing both of us. We will be copying a true Sphingidae expert, Bill Oehlke, to see if he can provide a conclusive identification for both you and our site. If this is a new species in North Carolina, Bill will be most excited to include it in his comprehensive species distribution statistics. We eagerly await Bill Oehlke’s response.

Identification
Hi Daniel, The mysterious NC sphinx is Darapsa myron. Are you posting these images somewhere that I can visit them? I already have check lists for all of the states and provinces. Now I am trying to get to the county level. The data really is of no use to me unless I can ascertain the county.
Bill Oehlke

Letter 4 – Virginia Creeper Sphinx

 

Moth?
Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 3:05 PM
Here is another bug that I am curious about. It was on the same wall as the Stag Beetle. I think it is quite stunning.
Chris Bullard
Wilson, NC

Virginia Creeper Sphinx
Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Hi Chris,
Your moth is a Virginia Creeper Sphinx or Grapevine Sphinx, Darapsa myron, and we identified it on Bill Oehlke’s fabulous website.  We are going to include Bill Oehlke in our response to you so he can add your sighting information to the data he is compiling on species distribution.

Letter 5 – Virginia Creeper Sphinx

 

New For Me
July 23, 2009
I saw this on a plant that my sister bought. It was there for the better part of a day. I never saw this before. I think it is a moth, but that’s all I can figure, and I can’t find its likeness anywhere.
Buzz
Warwick, NY

Virginia Creeper Sphinx
Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Hi Buzz,
We have been getting numerous images of Sphinx Moths this summer, as we do every summer, but this is the first image of a Virginia Creeper Sphinx, Darapsa myron, this year.  You may read more on Bill Oehlke’s awesome website.

Letter 6 – #9997: Virginia Creeper Sphinx

 

Virginia Creeper Sphinx ?
May 13, 2010
This little fellow made its way into the house this evening. It finally tired of flying around and stopped long enough for some photos before going on its merry way (outside) I do believe I have an ID after pouring over your website. I think it is a “Virginia Creeper Sphinx.” Thanks to your wonderful website each insect I come in contact with is now a challange to ID it.. Thank You
Richard
North Middle Tennessee

Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Dear Richard,
You should be congratulated for self identifying your Virginia Creeper Sphinx, Darapsa myron.  You can see the entire life cycle on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Letter 7 – Virginia Creeper Sphinx

 

shades-of-green and cinnamon hawk moth
Location: central Missouri, USA
June 4, 2011 1:03 am
Dear Bugman, I found a very unusually colored (looks like military camo to me) this evening about 5pm, in 95 degree heat, residential area near urban ”wooded stream” and field, in central Missouri (Columbia). It doesn’t have enough detail to be Oleander’s, I don’t think, and not right for Pandora’s. the dorsal underwing is cinnamon and there is a thin cinnamon border line on the medial edge of the upper wing. Body about 1 1/4 inch long, resting windspan about 2 inches. the green on green bands are distinct but not blothed like the European Lime Hawkmoth. There is a small dusky ”dot” close to outer edge of upper wing, even with center of the body. I’m in cicada country in a major way so anything different is very interesting. This was resting on the wire bars of an outdoor dog kennel (just set up last night, had been inside dark storage shed before that). I got nervous about the possible Lime Hawkmoth occurrence from a PA site in 2007 posts online and so i have this moth in captivity-and of course it’s about midnight on a Friday, so i cannot take it to anyone for about 3 days. Any assistance is appreciated on id. I’m an endangered species ecologist, and general outdoor, wildlife, and wildflower enthusiast.
Signature: Thanks very much, Bree

Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Hi Bree,
We really appreciate your detailed email.  This is a Virginia Creeper Sphinx,
Darapsa myron, and we confirmed its identity on Bill Oehlke’s excellent Sphingidae of the Americas website.  The data page on BugGuide indicates this is a wide ranging species and though it might not be common locally throughout its range, it does not appear to be endangered.  We would urge you to release it so it can mate and perpetuate the species.

Thank you so much for a quick reply!  I also notified and received a reply from Mr. Oehlke, and released this morning.
A very cool find.

bree

Letter 8 – Virginia Creeper Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Hawkmoth Caterpillar
Location: Ithaca, NY
August 2, 2011 1:24 pm
Dear Bugman,
I’m not familiar with American species as I’m visiting from Europe. I went for a walk along the Lab of Ornithology’s lake, and while trying to find a robin nest I saw a couple of weeks ago, I discovered this large caterpillar. It was too far away for me to get closer, but according to the picture it has a dark backside. I do love identifying what I see, but I’m a bit overwhelmed with the multitude of species you have here.
Signature: a curious illustrator

Virginia Creeper Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Curious Illustrator,
Though your caterpillar is partially obscured, we are confident that it is a Virginia Creeper Caterpillar in its brown form.  Though green is a more common color, you can see by comparing your photo to this example on BugGuide, that we have identified your caterpillar.  The best place to research New World Sphinx Moths and their caterpillars is the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Letter 9 – Virginia Creeper Sphinx

 

Subject: Lime Hawkmoth
Location: Columbus Ohio
July 25, 2012 9:58 pm
I found this moth on the wheel of a school bus where I am working. I thought it was so neat looking that I took several photos. I wanted to save it from being either killed or fumigated in the bus garage. I thought it looked like a camouflage colored glider so I had to look it up online before I posted pictures of it on Facebook.
From what I can see, it sure looks like a Lime Hawk Moth. All of your described colors are there, shades of green, pale pink and light brown.
I am located one mile southwest of Columbus Ohio, in case you were wanting this information.
Attached you’ll find the photos along with them being put ’into’ the body of this email also. Could you possibly let me know if this critter is indeed a Lime Hawk Moth..?
Thank you very much,
Melinda Cochrun
Galloway Ohio 43119
Signature: Melinda Cochrun

Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Good Morning Melinda,
That Lime Hawkmoth sighting from Pennsylvania we reported several years ago was a fluke and to the best of our knowledge, the Lime Hawkmoth, which is a European species, has not become established in North America.  This is actually a native Virginia Creeper Sphinx and you are not the first reader to confuse it with the Lime Hawkmoth and since they are in the same family, the confusion is understandable. You can read more about the Virginia Creeper Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas website where it is also referred to as a Hog Sphinx.

Letter 10 – Virginia Creeper Sphinx

 

Subject: Huge moth!
Location: Durham, North Carolina
June 22, 2017 9:41 am
Hi bugman –
I work in an office that backs up to a wooded area and small pond. We always have the strangest bugs on our landing. I found a giant leopard moth the other day – crazy! We found this guy today – he’s about two and a half inches long.
Signature: SG

Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Dear SG,
This Virginia Creeper Sphinx,
Darapsa myron, is also known as the Hog Sphinx or Grapevine Sphinx according to Sphingidae of the Americas which states that it:  ” is found in Maine south to south Florida; west to North Dakota, Nabraska, New Mexico and Texas.  It also flies in Mexico.”  According to BugGuide, it is “very common; sometimes abundant” and the habitat is listed as “Woodlands and edges near hostplants; adults are nocturnal and attracted to light.”

Letter 11 – Virginia Creeper Sphinx

 

Subject: Moth
Location: Texas
June 27, 2017 8:11 pm
Found this little guy in the elevator lobby of my apartment. He seemed sick, so I moved him back outside, poor lil guy. Any idea what kind he is? He’s about an inch or so long. Also, what’s the best thing to do for a moth that’s looking worse for wear? I spilled a little water out for him, but he didn’t seem to want it.
Signature: Moth friend

Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Dear Moth friend,
This sure looks like a Virginia Creeper Sphinx or Hog Sphinx,
Darapsa myron, to us, and you can verify our identification by comparing your image to images on BugGuide and Sphingidae of the Americas.  Sphinx Moths are relatively long lived as moths go, and the tattered appearance of the wings indicates that this individual may have been flying for a month or more.

Letter 12 – Virginia Creeper Sphinx

 

Subject:  Caterpillar on Virginia creeper
Geographic location of the bug:  Georgetown County, SC
Date: 04/25/2018
Time: 07:41 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I observed this caterpillar on my Virginia creeper  October 26-November 2, 2017.  I’m wondering if it could be a hydrangea Sphinx.
How you want your letter signed:  Sybil Collins

Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Dear Sybil,
This is the caterpillar of a Sphinx Moth in the family Sphingidae, and it is feeding on a Virginia Creeper.  We quickly identified it as a Virginia Creeper Sphinx or Hog Sphinx, Darapsa myron, thanks to this image on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “freshly-emerged larvae have a slender yellowish body, relatively large brown head, and disproportionately long black anal horn; mature larvae have a green or brown body with a white stripe along the side smudging downwards into diagonal stripes. Head and anterior thoracic segments slender in mature larvae (body swells greatly at third throacic segment, as in Azalea Sphinx). Spiracular spots small and orange, edged top and bottom with white dots. Horn granular.” 

Virginia Creeper Sphinx
Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Letter 13 – Virginia Creeper Sphinx

 

Subject:  What kind of moth is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Mid west USA specifically southern minnesota
Date: 06/16/2018
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this moth on a basket outside my house. I can’t seem to find any info on it or another moth that resembles it. It’s green was very fuzzy.
How you want your letter signed:  M

Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Dear M,
This beautiful moth is a Virginia Creeper Sphinx or Hog Sphinx,
Darapsa myron, and we identified it thanks to images on BugGuide.  According to Sphingidae of the Americas:  ” Darapsa myron larvae feed on Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Grape (Vitis), Ampelopsis, and Viburnum.”

Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Letter 14 – Virginia Creeper Sphinx

 

Subject:  Need to know
Geographic location of the bug:  Gettysburg, PA
Date: 04/02/2019
Time: 12:54 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Curious what this is?
How you want your letter signed:  Dee

Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Dear Dee,
Is this a current sighting or was this image taken previously?  This is a Virginia Creeper Sphinx, and based on BugGuide data, the earliest reported sightings in Pennsylvania occur in May, so an early April sighting seems quite unusual.  You can find additional information on Sphingidae of the Americas.

Letter 15 – Virginia Creeper Sphinx

 

Subject:  Lime green hawk moth?
Geographic location of the bug:  Christiana Tn
Date: 05/06/2019
Time: 05:57 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What type of moth is this? Closest I could find was a lime green hawk moth but they are not known in this area.
How you want your letter signed:  Tiffany

Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Dear Tiffany,
The Lime Hawk Moth is a European species in the same family as your Virginia Creeper Sphinx,
Darapsa myron, also known as the Hog SphinxAccording to Sphingidae of the Americas:  “Darapsa myron larvae feed on Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Grape (Vitis), Ampelopsis, and Viburnum.”  According to BugGuide:  “very common; sometimes abundant.”

Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Letter 16 – Virginia Creeper Sphinx

 

Subject:  What is this bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Eastern Pennsylvania
Date: 06/27/2021
Time: 07:15 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What is this
How you want your letter signed:  Thank you

Virginia Creeper Sphinx

This is a Virginia Creeper Sphinx, Darapsa myron, and you can compare your individual to this BugGuide image. 

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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts

2 thoughts on “Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth: Essential Guide for Enthusiasts”

  1. I live in St.Peters MO and was sitting next to this moth. I had to take a picture of it because i have never seen one like it. I looked it up and found it to be a Lime Hawk Moth. Is this a normal moth of MO?

    Reply

Leave a Comment