Vine Sphinx (Eumorpha vitis) Life History

Green color morph, 10-11-08

Blue-green color morph, 10-11-08. Right: detail of "mosquitoes"(!) and face.

Pupa, 10-23-08

Just-eclosed moth on 3-6-09 at 9:33 and 9:35 p.m., respectively

Moth at 9:40 and 10:06. Wings still hanging in upward position. Note drop of fluid from tiny wing cut.

            Wings were fully extended by 10:30, about an hour after emergence. This picture was taken at 11:00 p.m., shortly before the moth was released.

In October of 2008 I found several large caterpillars feeding on Cisis incisa in my yard in Falcon Heights, TX. These turned out to be larvae of the Vine Sphinx moth. One had two mosquito-like parasites (family: Ceratopogonidae) feeding on it; warm-blooded animals aren't the only ones to suffer from such pests!

One caterpillar was collected for observation. It was kept in a plastic container with fresh food added daily. When the caterpillar appeared ready to pupate, shredded bark was added to the container and the caterpillar buried itself in the bark around 10/17/08. After several days, I uncovered the pupa to photograph it and then returned it to its original state. The container was kept on the porch (outdoors, but sheltered) and checked regularly.

The moth emerged on the evening of March 6, 2009, a little less than 5 months after it pupated. Providentially, I checked the container shortly after it emerged (only because that is when I happened to arrive home). When I reached into in the container, the moth immediately crawled up my hand and positioned itself so that the wings could hang downward. I suspect I should have provided a perch for this purpose.

After a short photo shoot, and when the wings were fully extended but still soft, the moth was transferred to a net cage where it hung until it appeared ready for flight. At that time it was set outside. It was last seen buzzing its wings rapidly, in apparent preparation for flight.