Virginia Creeper Sphinx (Hog Sphinx)

Darapsa myron
Sphingidae (sphinx moths)

Adult sphinx moths tend to be large, heavy-bodied moths with a long, pointed abdomen. On this species, the top of the forewing has broad bands of dark brown, tan, gray or olive green; note also the dot and its positioning approximately in the middle of the forewing. The hindwings are orange or rusty.

Larvae are “hornworms,” with a pointed taillike “horn” at the end. Young caterpillars are slender and yellowish with a seemingly large “horn.” Mature larvae are green, pink, tan or brown, with 7 pairs of slanted lines on the sides; on each side, these merge into a wide line near the back. The body is swollen at the first abdominal segment (a little way back from the head).

Nearly sixty species of sphinx moths have been recorded from Missouri.

Wingspan: 1¾–2½ inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Common in woodlands and brushy areas. Consistently found at lights and also seen feeding on nectar from flowers.
Larvae feed on the foliage of grape vines, Virginia creeper, viburnums, raccoon grapes and related plants. Adults hover around flowers drinking nectar in a manner reminiscent of hummingbirds.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Common resident species.
Life cycle: 
Adults fly from mid-April into September. A multibrooded species in Missouri. Eggs are laid in small numbers on the undersides of host-plant leaves. Cocoons are made of silk and dried leaves, and pupation takes place in soil or leaf litter.
Human connections: 
The caterpillars can be a pest on vineyards. Sphinx moths are named for their caterpillars’ habit of resting, motionless, in a reared-back, head-up position. Long ago, this posture must have reminded people of the sphinxes of Egyptian mythology, such as the monumental Great Sphinx in Giza.
Ecosystem connections: 
The caterpillars are herbivores that graze on vegetation. The adults serve a role in pollination. All stages provide food for predators. Caterpillars of many sphinx moths are commonly parasitized by wasps, which lay eggs directly on the caterpillars.
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