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Blinded Sphinx Moth (Paonias excaecata)


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



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Image Credit: Jerry Gildemeister
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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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Image Credit: Christina D.
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Image Credit: Brian D. from Mount Pleasant, WI
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Image Credit: Christina D.
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Image Credit: Troy D. taken in Maine
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Image Credit: Michelle C. from Hillsborough, NJ
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The Blinded Sphinx Moth has vision, but its well-camouflaged caterpillar and pupa make it difficult for observers to see them.



Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Many moths and butterflies have eyespots, which are circles of rich color usually centered around a black dot which mimics a pupil. The Blinded Sphinx has a large blue eyespot on the hindwing that is only visible when the wings are spread open. This eyespot is missing its pupil, and if a human eye lacked a pupil, vision would be unlikely. This unusual distinction led to its confusing common name. Blinded Sphinxes have eyes on their head and can see just as well as any other moth. They are medium brown with darker patches in the center of their forewings. A purple overlay may cover the darker patch. Bottom edges of the forewings are curvy with a thin white and brown border. The smaller hindwings have an unusual bulge at the outer tips which creates a strange silhouette if the larger wings are not covering them. In addition to the aforementioned blue eyespots, the hindwings also have bright pink coloring near the body. The bottom edges of the wings are also scalloped.

Blinded Sphinx Moth caterpillars are soft and green. They eat the leaves of various deciduous trees like birch, poplar, black cherry, willow and basswood. They are safe to handle despite the soft horn, or spike, at the rear. The young caterpillars blend in well among green foliage and are hopefully overlooked by hungry birds and parasitic wasps. This species pupates in the fall and creates a brown cocoon among dead leaves, successfully camouflaging it from predators. It will emerge in the spring as a winged adult. Adults do not eat. They focus all their attention to reproduction. They are nocturnal and attracted to lights at night.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Sphingidae
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          Genus: Paonias
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            Species: excaecata
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Paonias excaecata
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 30mm to 50mm (1.18" to 1.96")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, purple, white, tan, pink, blue
Descriptors: flying, patches, dots, , eyespots, wings, scalloped, wavy
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 30mm and 50mm
Lo: 30mm
Md: 40mm
Hi: 50mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
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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 Blinded 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 Blinded Sphinx Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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