Sphinx libocedrus
Incense Cedar Sphinx

Sphinx libocedrus, Starr County, Texas, courtesy of Michael van Buskirk.

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TAXONOMY:

Family: Sphingidae, Latreille, 1802
Subfamily: Sphinginae, Latreille, 1802
Tribe: Sphingini, Latreille, 1802
Genus: Sphinx Linnaeus, 1758 ...........
Species: libocedrus Henry Edwards, 1881

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Sphinx libocedrus courtesy of Bruce Walsh.

DISTRIBUTION:

The Incense cedar sphinx, Sphinx libocedrus (Wing span: 2 3/4 - 3 1/4 inches (7 - 8 cm)), flies in arid chaparral, brushlands, and prairie breaks from Texas west through New Mexico and Arizona to southern California, and further south to Sonora and Baja California Sur.

Prescott, Arizona is the specimen type locality.

It is very rarely found and is threatened due to habitat destruction.

Sphinx libocedrus, Starr County, Texas, courtesy of Michael van Buskirk.

The upperside of the forewing is pale blue-gray to dark gray with a black dash reaching the wing tip and a white stripe along the lower outer margin. The upperside of the hindwing is black with two diffuse white bands, the upper one being practically non-existent.

Sphinx libocedrus, Starr County, Texas, courtesy of Michael van Buskirk.

FLIGHT TIMES:

Sphinx libocedrus adults fly as a single brood from July-September. Evan Rand has taken specimens in May and August in Yavapai County, Arizona, suggesting two broods in that area. Derek Bridgehouse reports a July flight in Copper Canyon, Arizona.

Sphinx libocedrus, Copper Canyon, Cochise County, Arizona,
July 26, 20081, courtesy of Derek Bridgehouse.

Sphinx libocedrus, Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Brewster County, Texas
April 23, 2011, courtesy of Bill Dempwolf,
id by Bill Oehlke.

I was able to make the determination of the above specimen, based on size and strong presence of a black mesial line on the abdomen. The similar, but larger Sphinx chersis lacks the abdominal mesial line or at best has a greatly reduced one.

ECLOSION:

Pupae wiggle to surface from subterranean chambers just prior to eclosion.

SCENTING AND MATING:

Females call in the males with a pheromone released from a gland at the tip of the abdomen. Adults nectar at a variety of flowers, including honeysuckle. Both sexes come to lights.

EGGS, LARVAE, PUPAE:

Larvae feed on New Mexican forestiera (Forestiera neomexicana) and on little leaf ash (Fraxinus gooddingii) in the Oleaceae family. There are green and dark forms and all larvae tend to darken just before pupation.

Michael Van Buskirk reports a larva (beautiful image) find on Forestiera angustifolia, Elbow Bush-Oleaceae, on October 29, 2005, in Starr County, Texas.

The larval images below are courtesy of Bruce Walsh.

Sphinx libocedrus pupa, courtesy of Mike van Buskirk.

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