Updated as per More, Kitching and Cocucci's Hawkmoths of Argentina 2005, October, 2007
Updated as per All Leps Barcode of Life, October, 2007
Updated as per Fauna Entomologica De Nicarauga, November 2007
Updated as per personal communication with Shelby Heeter, Islamorada, Florida, January 2009
Updated as per CATE Sphingidae (description; Paraguay, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia); May 15, 2011
Updated as per personal communication with Sergio D. Ríos Díaz in CATÁLOGO DE LOS SPHINGIDAE (INSECTA: LEPIDOPTERA) DEPOSITADOS EN EL MUSEO NACIONAL DE HISTORIA NATURAL DEL PARAGUAY; sent to me in July 2014 by Sergio D. Ríos Díaz.
Updated as per personal communication with Ezequiel Bustos (Shilap revta. lepid. 43 (172) diciembre, 2015, 615-631 eISSN 2340-4078 ISSN 0300-5267), January 4, 2016
Updated as per personal communication with Francierlem Oliveira (Extremoz, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil); May 31, 2016

Aellopos tantalus
The Tantalus Sphinx

Aellopos tantalus courtesy of Paul Opler.

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke at oehlkew@islandtelecom.com
Comments, suggestions and/or additional information are welcomed by Bill.


Family: Sphingidae, Latreille, 1802
Subfamily: Macroglossinae, Harris, 1839
Tribe: Dilophonotini, Burmeister, 1878
Genus: Aellopos Hubner, [1819] ...........
Species: tantalus Linnaeus, 1758


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Aellopos tantalus, Islamorada, Monroe County, Florida, December 22, 2008,
courtesy of Kevin and Shelby Heeter, id confirmed by James P. Tuttle.

Islamorada, "Village of Islands" is an incorporated village in Monroe County, Florida, on the islands of Lower Matecumbe Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Windley Key and Plantation Key in the Florida Keys.


Aellopos tantalus, the Tantalus Sphinx (wingspan: 1 3/4 - 2 1/4 inches (4.5 - 5.7 cm)), is found in Tropical America, preferring tropical and subtropical lowlands. The moth is on the wing during the day, and it has been reported in
Mexico as subspecies zonata;
Nicaragua: Matagalpa;
Argentina: Buenos Aires, Catamarca, Chaco, Corrientes, Entre Rios, Formosa, Tucuman, Salta, Misiones;
Brazil: Matto Grosso: Miranda; Rio Grande do Norte: Extremoz (FO?);
Paraguay: Asuncion; Concepcion; Central; Palino Cue;
and the West Indies to Florida. There is at least one record each from New York and southern Michigan.

There are East Caribbean records from
St. Lucia;
St. Martin; St. Bart's; Dominica; and

Aellopos tantalus, Dominican Republic,
May 24, 2007, courtesy of Sarah Kickler Kelber

The body is reddish brown with a wide white band across the abdomen segment 4. The forewing upperside is reddish brown with a black cell spot and three white spots (upper spot largest and often divided) near the gray marginal area. A paler, almost vestigial median band runs from the cell spot to the inner margin of the wing. The hindwing upperside is dark brown with an indistinct pale yellow median band on the upper half of wing; no white patch at anal angle.

Aellopos titan/tantalus, Extremoz, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil,
courtesy of Francierlem Oliveira, id by Bill Oehlke.

The image directly above could be either Aellopos titan or Aellopos tantalus. I favour titan, but would want to see the hindwing anal angle to be more certain.

Sphinx ixion Linnaeus 1758;
Sphinx zonata Drury 1773;
Sphinx terpunctata Goeze 1780;
Macroglossa sisyphus Burmeister 1856.

Aellopos tantalus nectaring on Draceana fragrans, Islamorada, Monroe County, Florida, December 22, 2008,
courtesy of Kevin and Shelby Heeter, id confirmed by James P. Tuttle.


This species broods continuously in the tropics and in Florida.

Adults nectar on flowers, including white stopper (Eugenia axillaris), corn plant (Draceana fragrans), lantana, flamevine and golden creeper/beach creeper/cough bush ( Ernodea littoralis).

Aellopos tantalus nectaring on Draceana fragrans, Islamorada, Monroe County, Florida, December 22, 2008,
courtesy of Kevin and Shelby Heeter, id confirmed by James P. Tuttle.


Adults eclose in the morning from pupae formed in cocoons in shallow subterranean chambers or under leaf litter.


Females call in the males with a pheromone released from a gland at the tip of the abdomen.


Yellow-green, translucent eggs are usually deposited singly on new foliage or buds in the early afternoon.

Within a few days, the deleloping larva can be seen through the eggshell. Newly emerged larvae feed on tender, new leaves until they have developed a bit.

Larvae feed on seven year apple, Casasia clusiifolia, and probably other plants in the madder family. They have been reported on Indigo-berry (Randia aculeata).

Aellopos tantalus fifth instar, North Key Largo, Monroe County, Florida,
copyright/courtesy of James P. Tuttle.

Caterpillars pupate in loose cocoons in shallow underground chambers or in leaf litter.

Pupae are dark, smooth and shiny, and relatively thin considering the stout appearance of the moth.

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