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Species Manduca sexta - Carolina Sphinx - Hodges#7775

Tobacco Hornworm - Manduca sexta Hornworm or other? - Manduca sexta Mandua sexta? with eggs? - Manduca sexta Carolina Sphinx - Manduca sexta Tobacco Hornworm - Manduca sexta Carolina Sphinx - Hodges#7775 - Manduca sexta Moth ID-Old Wife Underwing? - Manduca sexta Wanted to identify - Manduca sexta
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Bombycoidea (Silkworm, Sphinx, and Royal Moths)
Family Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths)
Subfamily Sphinginae
Tribe Sphingini
Genus Manduca
Species sexta (Carolina Sphinx - Hodges#7775)
Hodges Number
Other Common Names
Six-spotted Sphinx Moth
Tobacco Hornworm (caterpillar)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Manduca sexta (Linnaeus, 1763)
Sphinx sexta Linnaeus, 1763
Explanation of Names
SEXTA: meaning six; there are six orangish-yellow spots on each side of the abdomen in adults.
Wingspan 90-120 mm.
Larva to 81 mm.
Adult: Large. Forewing gray with indistinct black lines and brown shading; usually has six pairs of yellow spots on abdomen.
Hindwing small, banded black and white, with two black zigzag median lines very close together

Larva: large green body; dorsal "horn" (usually curved and orange, pink or red) on terminal abdominal segment; up to seven oblique whitish lateral lines, edged with black on upper borders.

The similar looking Tomato Hornworm, Manduca quinquemaculata, has eight v-shaped stripes and a straight blue-black horn. These caterpillars are often confused and misidentified.
Florida to Massachusetts, west through southern Ontario, Michigan, and Minnesota to Colorado and California. Ranges south through Mexico, West Indies, neotropics to Argentina.
Varied, including fields, agricultural lands.
The main flight period is May to October; year round in Florida.
Larvae feed on leaves of potato, tomato, tobacco, pepper, egg Plant, jimson weeed, etc. (Nightshade family--Solanaceae).
Adults take nectar from deep-throated flowers, such as Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), moonflower (Calonyction aculeata), and petunia (Petunia hybrida).
Life Cycle
Several generations per year in the southern states; two generations per year farther north; larval development averages twenty days.
Mature larvae drop to the ground and pupate underground.
1. first instar caterpillar. 2. later caterpillar. 3. pupa. 4. adult female
Can be a pest of crops.
They rapidly excrete ingested alkaloids before a toxic dose can accumulate. Small amounts of nicotine from tobacco plants that do get into the haemolymph cannot cross the ion-impereable neural sheath and are eliminated via the Malphigian tubules.(1)
Tobacco plants will synthesize and transport alkaloids from the roots to the leaves when herbivory is detected that negatively affects this moth. But when they are infected with the root-feeding nematode, Meloidogyne incognita, this synthesis doesn't occur, leaving the plant susceptible to attack.(2)
See Also
Manduca quinquemaculata (Five-spotted Hawk Moth) is similar as is its caterpillar, the Tomato Hornworm (below).

Ceratomia catalpae (Catalpa Sphinx) adult is similar
Print References
Covell, C.V. 1984. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Moths. Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 32; plates 1, 3. (3)
Himmelman, J. 2002. Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard. Down East Books. plate A-2. (4)
Hodges, R.W., 1971. The Moths of America North of Mexico, Fascicle 21. The Wedge Entomological Research Foundation. p. 29; plate 1, fig. 7. (5)
Powell, J.A. & P.A. Opler 2009. Moths of Western North America. University of California Press. plate 40, fig. 5; p. 244. (6)
Salsbury, G.A. & S.C. White. Insects in Kansas. Kansas Dept. of Agriculture. p. 324. (7)
Wagner, D.L. 2005. Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton University Press. p. 248 (8)
Works Cited
1.Insect-Plant Biology
L.M. Schoonhoven, T. Jermy, and J.J.A. Van Loon. 1998. Chapman and Hall.
2.Insect Ecology: Behavior, Populations and Communities
P. W. Price, R. F. Denno, M. D. Eubanks. 2011. Cambridge University Press.
3.Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Moths
Charles V. Covell. 1984. Houghton Mifflin Company.
4.Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard
John Himmelman. 2002. Down East Books.
5.The Moths of America North of Mexico Fascicle 21 Sphingidae
Ronald W. Hodges. 1971. The Wedge Entomological Research Foundation.
6.Moths of Western North America
Powell and Opler. 2009. UC Press.
7.Insects in Kansas
Glenn A. Salsbury and Stephan C. White. 2000. Kansas Dept. of Agriculture.
8.Caterpillars of Eastern North America
David L. Wagner. 2005. Princeton University Press.
9.Pacific Northwest Moths
10.North American Moth Photographers Group
11.BOLD: The Barcode of Life Data Systems
12.Butterflies of North America