Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Darapsa choerilus (Cramer, )
* phylogenetic sequence # 229225
First described in 1776 by Pieter Cramer
as Sphinx pholus
. This was invalid because Dru Drury had already used the name in 1773 for what is now Lycomorpha pholus
In 1779 Cramer described Sphinx choerilus, which turned out to be the same as his Sphinx pholus. This is the first valid name for the species, though no one seems to have noticed it until recently.
The species was eventually moved to Darapsa, so the recent change is from Darapsa pholus to Darapsa choerilus
Explanation of Names
Pholus was a centaur (half-horse, half-human creature) of Greek mythology. Pholus received the hero Hercules as a guest, and offered him some choice wine. Unfortunately, Pholus was killed by one of Hercules' poison arrows dropped by accident on his foot. Perhaps the association is between grapes--hostplant of this moth, and wine. (Based on Internet searches.)
Choerilus was a classical Greek name, including several dramatists/poets. This is apparently the current (2005) name for this species. (Based on Internet searches.)
Adult: forewing variably reddish-brown to orange with purplish shading; postmedian line straight or almost so; small discal spot and pale shading in median area; pale wavy-margined semicircular patch along outer margin; hindwing uniformly rusty to yellowish-orange except for pale yellowish strip along inner margin
Larva: head and front of thorax slender (body swells greatly at third thoracic segment, as in larvae of Virginia Creeper Sphinx); body green with numerous pale green dots; color changes to light reddish-brown shortly before pupating
Eastern United States, west to North Dakota and Texas, plus across southern Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia
Deciduous forests and associated areas; adults are nocturnal and attracted to light and bait
adults fly from June to August in the north (one brood); March to September in the south (two or more broods)
Larvae feed on leaves of azalea (Rhododendron
spp.), blueberry (Vaccinium
spp.), sour-gum, Tradescantia
species and several other families. Hosts
Adults take nectar.
One to several generations per year, depending on latitude. In Louisiana there are as many as eight broods, beginning in March, with emergence peaks at 30-day intervals. Larvae pupate in leaf litter at base of hostplant, binding several leaves together with a few strands of silk to form a loose flimsy cocoon.
Virginia Creeper Sphinx
) is smaller, has a slightly curved PM line on forewing, and often has greenish shading - never purplish
Hodges, R. W., 1971. Moths of America North of Mexico, Fascicle 21:p. 146; pl. 12.8, 10.(1)
Covell, Charles V. Jr. 1984. Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America. plate 6 #12 (2)
Tuttle, J. P., 2007. Hawk Moths of North America: p. 202; pl. 2.8.(3)
live images of all life stages
plus description, distribution, flight season, foodplants, biology, and detailed information on rearing (Bill Oehlke, silkmoths.bizland.com)
Moth Photographers Group
- range map, photos of living and pinned adults.
BOLD - Barcode of Life Data Systems
- species account with collection map and photos of pinned adults.
pinned adult images of dorsal and ventral surface
plus food plants and flight season (Dale Clark, Texas)
pinned adult image
by Paul Opler, plus US distribution map (butterfliesandmoths.org)
distribution in Canada
list of provinces (CBIF)
De uitlandische kappelen, v.1, p.137 (plate 87, fig. B)
Cramer's description (in Dutch and French) of the species as Sphinx pholus
. Two pages back is an illustration of the adult moth.
De uitlandische kappelen, v.3, p.91 (plate 247, fig. A)
Cramer's description (in Dutch and French) of the species as Sphinx choerilus
. On the previous page is an illustration of the adult moth.