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Rustic Sphinx Moth (Manduca rustica)


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



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Image Credit: Buzz S. from Harlingen, TX
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Image Credit: Peggy S. from LA
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Image Credit: Yvonne H. from Phoenix, AZ
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Image Credit: Yvonne H. from Phoenix, AZ
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Image Credit: Yvonne H. from Phoenix, AZ
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Image Credit: Daniel B. from Monmouth County, NJ
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The salt-and-pepper Rustic Sphinx Moth is a big and beautiful specimen that prefers southern latitudes and sea-level altitudes.



Updated: 11/02/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
This striking, mammoth-sized moth is a member of the Sphinx family. The rich black and white speckled coloration of the Rustic Sphinx Moth is contained by sharp, short white 'dashes' on the edges of its hind wings. Hairy legs add to its charm. The mottled coloration, if looked at closely, reveals a zigzag pattern crossing the body from left to right. A small white dot is centered on each forewing. The caterpillar of this moth is a bright green color. It is smooth, lacking bristles. It has seven distinctive black and yellow stripes on each side, almost like slashes. Its gray face adds the only other color to the palette. The caterpillar eats the leaves of a variety of plants, adding to the adaptive nature of the insect.

This moth is well adapted to various types of warm climates. It can be found in arid, temperate and even tropical areas. It is most active at the end of summer and into fall when temperatures are at their highest in North America. Bougainvillea, petunias, and other aromatic flowers make fine places to observe them.





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: Manduca
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            Species: rustica
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Manduca rustica
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 87mm to 150mm (3.42" to 5.90")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, white, gray, brown, yellow
Descriptors: spotted, large, speckled, flying
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 87mm and 150mm
Lo: 87mm
Md: 118.5mm
Hi: 150mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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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 Rustic 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 Rustic Sphinx Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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