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Fig Sphinx Moth (Pachylia ficus)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Fig Sphinx Moth.

 Updated: 7/26/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




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.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Sphingidae
          Genus: Pachylia
            Species: ficus
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Pachylia ficus
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 12mm to 14mm (0.47in to 0.55in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, tan, green, yellow, orange, red
Descriptors: black dot, tan patch, sleek, flying, cross-striped caterpillar, two white dots
Territorial Map
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Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
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
Graphic showing basic anatomy of a common North American butterfly and moth insect
1
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
2
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
3
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
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Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
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Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
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Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.