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Waved Sphinx Moth (Ceratomia undulosa)

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

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Image Credit: Kathleen P. from Schuyler Lake, NY
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Image Credit: Tanja R. from St. Joseph's, SK
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Image Credit: David S. from Grafton, WV
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Image Credit: Tanja R. from St. Joseph's, SK
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Image Credit: Tanja R. from St. Joseph's, SK
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Though it is a common moth, the Waved Sphinx has a size and pattern that lend it a good degree of distinction.

Updated: 08/29/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Big and brown, the Waved Sphinx moth has a series of wavy lines that cross its forewings. A white spot sits almost centered on each wing. Black dashes look like pleats and run vertically down the wing, but none are close to the base. The furry brown thorax is ringed in black with white along the inner bottom edge. Lighter hairs inside this ring almost resemble closed eyes. Hindwings have a black-and-white checkered fringe. Adults are not known to eat. They are commonly sighted on tree bark, where their colors and pattern give them camouflage. Some may also be found resting on walls of buildings and window screens.

Caterpillars feed on the leaves of ash, hawthorn, oak, and fringe trees as well as privet hedges. The two-toned green body of the caterpillar may have a blush of red on it, as if it got a bit of sunburn. Yellow diagonal lines along the sides of the body point back toward a long yellow or white horn at the rear. Tiny red dots mark the side of each segment. The head has a yellow or pink line running from each eye to the top of the head. One to two generations are produced each year.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned 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: Ceratomia
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            Species: undulosa

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Ceratomia undulosa
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 78mm to 110mm (3.07" to 4.33")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; black; white; tan; gray
Descriptors: large; huge; wavy; zigzag; white spot; black lines; flying

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 78mm (3.1in) and 110mm (4.3in)
Lo: 78mm
Md: 94mm
Hi: 110mm

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
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Waved 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 Waved Sphinx Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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