Loblolly and Longleaf pine trees make excellent habitat for the Southern Pine Sphinx Moth and its offspring.
The Southern Pine Sphinx has a wide wingspan that can almost reach 6 cm (2.25 inches). The wings are covered in short gray or brown hairs that almost have the appearance of brushed flannel or suede. Two black lines on each side run down the wings by the body. A blush of golden brown on the inner wings is just below the two-toned thorax. An outer ring of black hair on the thorax helps showcase a lighter, almost mushroom-shaped mark in its interior. Though the adult has a range that spans into New England states, cold weather reduces opportunities to see it. Conifers like pines trees are also native to the warmer southern states, offering the moth a longer season.
The caterpillar of the Southern Pine Sphinx eat the needles from pine trees. Its green body has thick yellow lines that run from the head to the rear. Along the back, red dots may form between the yellow lines, eventually connecting to form a red line. Tiny yellow specks may dot the entire body. The head has a multicolored upside-down 'V' shape made of yellow, black, and orange stripes. The face looks orange, but the area near the 'neck' is green. Two short little yellow or red tails protrude from the rear end. In the warmer southern states, multiple generations can be produced each year with Florida seeing year-round activity.
Scientific Name: Lapara coniferarum
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 30mm to 35mm (1.17in to 1.37in)
Colors: gray; brown; black
Descriptors: two black streaks; daggers; lines; brown blush; golden brown inner wings; gray; black; brown; white; black by head; furry; short hair; flannel; velvet; mushroom shape
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.