Butterflies and Moths of North America

collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera

Plebeian sphinx
Paratrea plebeja (Fabricius, 1777)


Family: Sphingidae
Subfamily: Sphinginae
Identification: Forewing is gray with indistinct black and white markings, a series of black dashes from the base to the tip, and a small white cell spot. Hindwing is dark gray with an obscure dark median band.
Wing Span: 2 3/8 - 3 inches (6 - 7.5 cm).
Life History: Caterpillars hide on the underside of stems during the day, and emerge to feed at night. Fully-grown caterpillars pupate in chambers in soft soil. Caterpillars of the second brood pupate and overwinter in their chambers.
Flight: One brood in the north from May-July, at least two broods in the south from March-November.
Caterpillar Hosts: Common trumpetcreeper (Campsis radicans), Florida yellow-trumpet (Tecoma stans), lilac (Syringa species), and passionflower (Passiflora species).
Adult Food: Deep-throated flowers including honeysuckle, bouncing bet, and verbena.
Habitat: Not reported.
Range: Connecticut south to Florida; west to Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Ranges south to Veracruz, Mexico.
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: None reported.
Comments: Genus changed from Paratrea to Paratraea. Apparent misspelling. Fixed 8/2009.
Alternate Scientific Names:
Paratrea plebeja

Pollinator Week was June 20-26, 2022!

Butterflies and moths are accidental pollinators of many flowering plants. While most species do not have special structures to carry pollen, they do brush against pollen and transfer it to other flowers.

Did you know? The Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido comyntas) flies close to the ground and uses its short proboscis to probe flowers of wild strawberry, white sweet clover, and other low-lying plants.