Shades of dark green, gray, and purple cover most of the large Abbott's Sphinx, but a bright white 'tail feather' punctuates this moth's many features.
Big enough to sit in the hand of an adult, the Abbott's Sphinx Moth is an elegant member of this family of giants. Deep undertones of purple cover most of the moth and its wings. A thick black band crosses behind the grayish head, giving it the appearance of a collar. The wide abdomen is crossed with bands of gray, ivory, black, and purple until the very end where a three-pronged creamy white tip resembles feathers seen on birds. The wings are dark both where they connect to the body and along the bottom edges. A central band of lighter coloring is sandwiched between. The bottoms of the forewings and hindwings have irregular scalloped edges. If the wings are spread wide enough, a flash of bright yellow can be seen on the top of the hindwings near the abdomen. Look for flying adults near lights at night.
Young caterpillars are green and fleshy with a long horn at the rear end that looks like a stinger. As it matures, this horn becomes a raised knob that looks like a button. Short white stripes cross the segments of the tubular body. Eventually, the caterpillar will become a mottled brown color that blends in well with branches and leaf litter, or it will become dark brown with 9 large green spots along the 'spine' that stop at the raised knob. The knob has a pattern on it that resembles an eyespot and two bands of green come after it near the rear. They feed on grapevines and peppervines.
Scientific Name: Sphecodina abbottii
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 50mm to 70mm (1.95in to 2.73in)
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Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.