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Abbott's Sphinx Moth (Sphecodina abbottii)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Abbott's Sphinx Moth



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Image Credit: Ginette M. from Winnipeg, Manitoba
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Image Credit: Ginette M. from Winnipeg, Manitoba
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Image Credit: Ginette M. from Winnipeg, Manitoba
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Image Credit: Ginette M. from Winnipeg, Manitoba
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Image Credit: Chad S. in IL
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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.



Updated: 06/28/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon


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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Sphingidae
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          Genus: Sphecodina
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            Species: abbottii
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Sphecodina abbottii
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 50mm to 70mm (1.96" to 2.75")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: green, brown, purple, black, gray, white
Descriptors: pointy, v-shape, flying, lines
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 50mm (2.0in) and 70mm (2.8in)
Lo: 50mm
Md: 60mm
Hi: 70mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
State of Alabama graphic
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State of Delware graphic
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State of North Carolina graphic
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State of South Carolina graphic
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State of Tennessee graphic
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State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
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State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Abbott's Sphinx Moth may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Abbott's Sphinx Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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