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Southern Pine Sphinx (Lapara coniferarum)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Southern Pine Sphinx

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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
Full-sized image of the Southern-Pine-Sphinx-Moth Thumbnail image of the Southern-Pine-Sphinx-Moth

Loblolly and Longleaf pine trees make excellent habitat for the Southern Pine Sphinx Moth and its offspring.

Updated: 01/05/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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 eats 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. ©InsectIdentification.org

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


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Sphingidae
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          Genus: Lapara
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            Species: coniferarum
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Lapara coniferarum
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 30mm to 35mm (1.18" to 1.37")
Colorwheel Graphic 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

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 30mm (1.2in) and 35mm (1.4in)
Lo: 30mm
Md: 32.5mm
Hi: 35mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Southern Pine Sphinx 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 Southern Pine Sphinx. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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