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Species Paratrea plebeja - Plebeian Sphinx - Hodges#7793

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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 Paratrea
Species plebeja (Plebeian Sphinx - Hodges#7793)
Hodges Number
Other Common Names
Trumpet Vine Sphinx
the only species in this genus in North America (and the world) listed at All-Leps
Wingspan 60-75 mm
Adult: forewing pale gray to grayish-brown with distinct white reniform spot; black basal dash projects like a thorn from inner margin (an important feature); 3 or 4 black longitudinal dashes near middle of wing intersect 2 dark lines, often diffuse or indistinct, completely crossing wing in postmedial area; hindwing mostly dark gray with white and dark checkered fringe
Eastern United States plus southern Ontario; also occurs in Mexico.
Fields, edges, with hostplants, and nearby areas; adults are nocturnal and come to light.
Adults fly from April to October in the south [Charles Covell]. Bill Oehlke reports flight seasons of May-July in the north, and March-November (2 broods) in the south. In Durham, North Carolina, Patrick Coin recorded this species at the same lighted wall on these dates: 5/28, 6/9, 6/22, 7/12, 8/13, 8/22.
Larvae feed on Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans), Yellow Trumpetbush (Tecoma stans), passionflower (Passiflora spp.), and lilac (Syringa spp.)
Adults take nectar from deep-throated flowers.
Life Cycle
Caterpillars hide on underside of foliage during day, and emerge to feed at night. First brood pupates in soil, emerges later that year (if two broods). Overwinters as a pupa in chamber in soil.
See Also
easily distinguished from Waved Sphinx (Ceratomia undulosa) by black basal dash on forewing - lacking in undulosa (Waved Sphinx also has several wavy lines completely crossing forewing, whereas Plebeian Sphinx has only two lines - compare images of both species at CBIF)
distinguished from Northern Apple Sphinx (Sphinx poecila) and Apple Sphinx (Sphinx gordius) by lack of subterminal line projecting from inner margin of forewing (compare images of all 3 species at CBIF)
Print References
Covell, p. 34, plate 5 #5 (1)
Internet References
live and pinned adults, and live larva images by various photographers, plus common name reference [Plebeian Sphinx], distribution, description, flight season, biology, foodplants (Bill Oehlke,
pinned adult image by John Glaser, plus dates and foodplants (Larry Line, Maryland)
pinned adult image plus collection site map (All-Leps)
pinned adult images (Robert Nuelle, Texas)
North Carolina State University Entomology Collection has 67 pinned, including specimens from that state.
common name reference [Trumpet Vine Sphinx] (Tom Howard, North Carolina State Parks)
foodplants plus distribution, synonyms, references (Markku Savela, FUNET)
pinned adult image by Paul Opler, plus US distribution map, description, flight season, biology, foodplants (
Works Cited
1.Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Moths
Charles V. Covell. 1984. Houghton Mifflin Company.