Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tersa Sphinx Moth and Caterpillar

Tersa Sphinx Moth, resting after a storm.

 Xylophanes tersa

Early Instar of Tersa Sphinx on Pentas

Tersa Sphinx:  Spiracles are circled with brown and white patches

Tersa Sphinx: Head tucked in and three pairs of thoracic legs are clasped together.

Xylophanes tersa got wet when I watered the Pentas

Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar:  Pentas' leaves will grow back.
I was able to identify this pretty caterpillar and the dramatic adult with the help of  I love learning the names of our neighbors.  Matching this week's garden caterpillar with a several-year-old moth photo was a treat.  I had figured that the dramatic, streamlined  moth was a Sphinx, but knew nothing else about it.   Now I know that it is  Xylophanes tersa.   Xylo- is a Greek root meaning "wood".  Doesn't the moth look as though it were made from wood?  Phanes is the primeval Greek god of new life.  His name means "Bring to Light".  Phanes is described as having a helmet and golden wings.  Tersa means clean or bright in Italian.  What a descriptive appellation for this moth.    The caterpillar appears to have large brown eyes.  (Its true eyespots are tiny and not easily seen). The adult moth actually does have huge brown eyes.  Sphinx moths are so cool.  You may spot an adult moth in the evening as it sips nectar from your flowers - just like a hummingbird.


Caitlin said...

Beautiful pics! I've raised Tersas in the past and they always make for impressive hosts. I'm envious!

Sally said...

Hi Caitlin! Thank you for your comments. How interesting that you have raised these caterpillars. I agree with you - they are impressive. :-)