Butterflies and Moths of North America

collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera

Ello sphinx
Erinnyis ello (Linnaeus, 1758)

Family: Sphingidae
Subfamily: Macroglossinae
Identification: Abdomen has very distinct gray and black bands. Upperside of female forewing is pale gray with a few dark dots near the outer margin. Upperside of male forewing is dark gray and brown with a black band running from the base to the tip. In both sexes, the hindwing upperside is orange with a wide black border.
Wing Span: 2 15/16 - 3 5/16 inches (7.5 - 8.5 cm).
Life History: Adults begin feeding at dark. Fully-grown caterpillars spin cocoons on the soil surface.
Flight: . Several flights throughout the year in Florida and South Texas. Strays north July-October.
Caterpillar Hosts: Papaya (Carica papaya) in the Caricaceae family; various plants in the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) including poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima); guava (Psidium species) in the myrtle family (Myrtaceae); also saffron plum (Bumelia angustifolia) in the Sapotaceae.
Adult Food: Nectar from flowers including bouncing bet (Saponaria officinalis).
Habitat: Tropical and subtropical lowlands and foothills.
Range: Resident in Argentina north through Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies to south Florida, Texas, Arizona, southern California, and southern Nevada. Strays northward.
Conservation: Not usually required.
NCGR: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management Needs: Ello sphinx caterpillars can be pests of poinsettias.
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