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Tersa Sphinx Moth (Xylophanes tersa)


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



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Image Credit: Arch Baker
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Image Credit: Cookie E. from Raeford, NC
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Image Credit: Joseph C.Spikes taken in Florala, AL
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Image Credit: Rob H. from Summerville, SC
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Image Credit: Arch Baker
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Image Credit: Dean Y. from IL
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Image Credit: Dean Y. from IL
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Image Credit: Bill K. taken in western TN
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Image Credit: Bonnie P. from AR
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Image Credit: Sarah B. from western NC
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Image Credit: Rev Daniel Elis Axelrod cc 2020, taken in southern FL
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Big, bold Tersa Sphinx Moths are sleek, modern-looking moths, with streamlined wings usually seen on aircraft.



Updated: 07/15/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The large, stiff wings of this moth give it the appearance of a small bird. Tersa Sphinx Moths are hairy and angular, like a streamlined stealth fighter. Their large size and a projection at the tip of the abdomen may cause alarm at first, but they are harmless moths and do not have a stinger. A hairy brown body may have undertones of green or yellow. Streaks run down the back of the abdomen. Wings have a series of thin lines that reach the wing tip. Adults feed on pollen.

Caterpillars can be either green or light brown. Both color variations have an eyespot near the front of the head, and small white spots along the sides of the body. Cocoons are usually under formed leaf litter at the soil's surface.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Hairy 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: Xylophanes
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            Species: tersa
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Xylophanes tersa
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 32mm to 155mm (1.25" to 6.10")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; white; ivory; black; green; yellow
Descriptors: triangle, stripe, hairy, flying
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 32mm (1.3in) and 155mm (6.1in)
Lo: 32mm
Md: 93.5mm
Hi: 155mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
State of Alabama graphic
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State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
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State of Idaho graphic
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State of Maine graphic
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State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
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State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
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State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
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 Tersa 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 Tersa Sphinx Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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