The warm weather is a preferred climate for the Fig Sphinx Moth, but it sometimes ventures north for the summer.
As its name suggests, the Fig Sphinx Moth uses fig trees as a host plant. Plump green caterpillars feed on the leaves of ficus trees and have sometimes been seen on mango trees as well. The caterpillar varies greatly in color depending on the individual and maturity. Some are green with yellow lines, others have bright yellow and orange stripes crossing the top part of the body. Some have yellow diagonal lines on their sides that angle upward toward the head. Some turn brown and resemble tree bark. Caterpillars pupate on the ground near the base of their food source.
Adults drink flower nectar. They are a medium brown color, but each wing tip has a tan or pale patch on the outer edge. A single black dot sits in the center of each forewing. Hindwings, when visible, have broad black and yellow-orange bands that run across them. The inner edge of each hindwing sits on top of the abdomen, showcasing a bright white spot on the inner tip. While the tropics are a more comfortable temperature range for this species and its host plant, some adults have wandered as far north as Pennsylvania and Indiana. Look for them in flight after sunset in areas where fig trees are growing.
Scientific Name: Pachylia ficus
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 12mm to 14mm (0.47in to 0.55in)
Colors: brown, tan, green, yellow, orange, red
Descriptors: black dot, tan patch, sleek, flying, cross-striped caterpillar, two white dots
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
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.