Butterflies and Moths of North America

collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera

Carolina sphinx
Manduca sexta (Linnaeus, 1763)


Family: Sphingidae
Subfamily: Sphinginae
Identification: Abdomen usually has 6 pairs of yellow bands. Forewing has indistinct black, brown, and white markings. Hindwing is banded with black and white and has 2 black zigzag median lines that are very close together with hardly any white showing between them. Wing fringes on forewing are spotted with white.
Wing Span: 3 3/4 - 4 3/4 inches (9.5 - 12 cm).
Life History: Adults fly at dusk, and females lay eggs singly on the upperside of host plant leaves. The caterpillars are known as Tobacco Hornworms, and each has a red-tipped horn at the end of its abdomen. Caterpillars have large appetites for leaves and fruits and can defoliate plants quickly. Fully-grown caterpillars pupate and overwinter in burrows in the soil.
Flight: . Several broods throughout the year in Florida, several broods from April-October in Louisiana, and two broods from May-October in the remainder of the range.
Caterpillar Hosts: Potato, tobacco, tomato, and other plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).
Adult Food: Nectar from flowers including Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), moonflower (Calonyction aculeata), and petunia (Petunia hybrida).
Habitat: Tobacco fields, vegetable gardens, and a wide variety of habitats.
Range: Massachusetts west across southern Michigan to Minnesota, central Colorado, and northern California; south to Florida, the Gulf Coast, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California.
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: Caterpillars are pests on tobacco and tomato, and occasionally potato and pepper crops.
Comments: NULL