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Sphinx Moths belong to the family Sphingidae within the insect order Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). Some of the moths in this family are also sometimes called hawk moths or hummingbird moths and a few species are called hornworm moths but it is acceptable to call any member of the family a sphinx moth. Most sphinx moths have heavy, football-shaped bodies and relatively narrow wings. Their antennae are thickened at the tips. There are many species of sphinx moths, and many of them look very similar. We only have a few examples here, so it is important to closely examine field guides for accurate identification. Detailed pictures of sphinxes and other moths are available in many field guides, including the following.
Sphinx moth caterpillars vary in color and shape, depending on the species, but most have smooth skin. Some, especially the hornworms, have distinctive horns at the end of the body. Pictured below is a typical sphinx caterpillar, the larva of the White-Lined Sphinx Moth.
SIZE: Adult wingspan up to 5 1/2â€ł, caterpillar up to 3â€ł.
LIFE CYCLE:As with all butterflies and moths, sphinx moths have a complete metamorphosis with egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages. Adults and caterpillars are active in warm months. Most species overwinter as pupae.
ECOLOGY: Many sphinx moth adults and caterpillars are common in crops, gardens, meadows, forests; they are found anywhere that their host plants grow. Sphinx moth caterpillars feed on a variety of plants, depending on the species and some are important pests (tobacco hornworm, e.g.). Adult sphinx moths feed only on nectar. Sphinx moth caterpillars are preyed upon by many creatures, including mantids, assassin bugs, birds, and spiders. Some sphinx caterpillars are partially defended by chemicals that they received from their food plants. For instance, the tobacco hornworm caterpillar gets nicotine, which is a poison to most animals, from tobacco. Some sphinx larvae exhibit defensive behaviors when attacked, such as thrashing and regurgitation. Sphinx moths are also eaten by many creatures, but they often have subdued colors which help to provide camouflage. A few sphinx moths, such as the clearwing hummingbird moths, are bright black and yellow and resemble bees: this color mimicry is believed to provide some protections from predators. Unlike most moths, sphinx moths are very good fliers. Many species are able to hover in mid-air, just like hummingbirds. Sphinx moths use this ability to feed on the nectar of hard-to-reach flowers.
PEST STATUS:The only important sphinx moth pests are tobacco and tomato hornworms.
CONTROL: â€śTomatoâ€ť hornworms are easily controlled by garden insecticides (e.g., carbaryl, permethrin, spinosad). A biological control organism that is also highly effective and sold commonly is Bacillus thuringiensis (e.g., Dipel, Thuricide). Hornworm larvae can also be hand-picked although they are surprisingly difficult to detect because of their cryptic coloration. Larvae tend to feed on the exterior parts of plants during shadier periods, near dusk and dawn, when they may also be more readily observed and destroyed.
But even after all these measures, you still have moth problem in your home, then the best option is to call Beyond Pest Control. Our pest control services will eliminate this problem forever. They can ensure that all moths including Indian meal moths and clothing moths are eliminated from every nook and corner of your home.
Our pest control specialists service all NYC boroughs, including Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island (both Nassau & Suffolk counties), Staten Island and even both Westchester & Rockland counties.