Knife-like clean lines and smooth edges on the wings of the Galium Sphinx help this moth cut through the air in flight.
Like other Sphinx Moths, the Galium Sphinx is larger than the typical moth. It is a strong flier, and may also be called a Hawkmoth. The Galium, or Gallium, Sphinx has a modern look about it. The contoured wings are brown with a ivory/tan line that starts at the middle base and shoots out to the very tips of the forewings. Wisps of ivory rise from this line. It resembles its relatives, the Spurge Hawkmoth and the White-lined Sphinx, but is less ornate. Cream-colored hindwings peak out from under the forewings and show a burst of bright pink or red bordered by black bands when fully extended. The furry brown thorax has a thin line of ivory hairs on each side of it. The thick abdomen has short, ivory side stripes, and tiny ivory dots running down its 'spine'. The abdomen tapers to a point at its tip.
This species is named after the family of plants that its caterpillars feed on, Galium. This includes weedy plants like bedstraw, willow weed, woodruff, and godetia. They also feed on evening primrose. Caterpillars are shiny and smooth. Individuals may be light brown, dark brown, or even green with have reddish heads and rear ends. The body has rows of white spots running the length of it, with the last set of spots stretching toward a harmless red, or black, horn at the rear. These caterpillars are sometimes seen crossing roads, almost blending in with weathered asphalt.
Look for adults in the daytime during the summer as they visit the flowers of monarda (bee balm), bergamot, phlox, butterfly bushes, and other nectar-rich blossoms. Their ability to hover over plants and blooms may lead to one mistaking them for a small bird.
Scientific Name: Hyles gallii
Other Name(s): Gallium Sphinx Moth
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 38mm to 50mm (1.48in to 1.95in)
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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.