Catalpa Sphinx Moth

Ceratomia catalpae
SPHINX MOTH FAMILY (Sphingidae)

Description
This moth has a wingspan of 2 5/8 – 3 1/2 inches. The thorax is brown with black along the sides. The forewing is gray and brown with black and tan markings. The black and white reniform spot is at the top of a tan area. The hindwing is plain brown with a dark brown submarginal line. The mature caterpillar is about 2 3/4 inches in length. The color varies on individuals from mostly yellow to mostly black. The sides are often marked with vertical black lines. There is a long, straight black horn on the top of the last segment.

Occurrence
This is a very common moth around Catalpa trees. Caterpillars can be seen feeding on Catalpa leaves around the Gifford Road parking lot and along the Wetlands trail usually in August.

Comments
Another name for this family is Hawk Moths. The adults have a short proboscis and are not capable of feeding, so they are not found on flowers. The adult female rafts the eggs with as many as 500 being laid in a cluster. The group feeds together through the 3rd instar, and small clusters remain into the 4th instar. When disturbed they regurgitate a green fluid, and thrash about violently. The caterpillars are heavily parasitized by braconid wasps. The larval food plant is Catalpa leaves.

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