Amorpha juglandis

Amorpha juglandis
uh-MOOR-fuhmmjug-LAN-dis
(J. E. Smith, 1797) Sphinx

Cressonia juglandis male courtesy of Lynn Scott.

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

TAXONOMY:

Superfamily: Sphingoidea, Dyar, 1902
Family: Sphingidae, Latreille, 1802
Subfamily: Smerinthinae, Grote & Robinson, 1865
Tribe: Smerinthini, Grote & Robinson, 1865
Genus: Amorpha, Hubner, [1809]
Species: juglandis, (J. E. Smith, 1797)

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DISTRIBUTION:

Amorpha and Cressonia and Laothoe are often used as the genus name for this species.

The Amorpha juglandis moth (wingspan 45-75 mm; males smaller than females) flies from Maine south to Florida, west to North Dakota and west Texas, and south to Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

Amorpha juglandis, Port Neches, Jefferson County, Texas,
May 9, 2009, courtesy of Linda Williams.

The populations of Amorpha juglandis in western Ontario are the reportedly birch-feeding subspecies manitobae according to Riotte.

This species is also know as the Walnut sphinx, (Laothoe juglandis). Typical of species within the Smerinthini tribe, these moths do not feed as adults.

Amorpha juglandis, Salada, Bell County, Texas,
September 12, 2012, courtesy of Fred Colwell.

The adults are also highly variable; sometimes wings of an individual may be all one color or may have several colors, ranging from pale to dark brown, and may have a white or pink tinge. Patterns range from faint to pronounced.

Amorpha juglandis, Arlington (Tarrant County), Texas,
April 19, 2006, courtesy of Dale Smith.

Visit Amorpha juglandis, Searcy County, Arkansas, April 4, 2012, Marvin Smith

Visit Amorpha juglandis, Shreveport, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, Rosemary Seidler.

Visit Amorpha juglandis female, Eddie Jones Park, Shreveport, April 15, 2013, courtesy of Jeff Trahan.

Visit Amorpha juglandis, Priddy, Mills County, May 12, 2014, Melinda Adams.

Visit Amorpha juglandis, MV light on small building on County Hwy R18, Boone County, Iowa, June 23, 2009, Thomas Jantscher.

Visit Amorpha juglandis male, Londonderry, Rockingham, New Hampshire, June 28, 2006, courtesy of Deb Lievens.

Visit Amorpha juglandis female, Waubonsie S.P., Fremont County, Iowa, July 5, 2013; Thomas Jantscher

Visit Amorpha juglandis, Big Spring, Howard County, Texas, September 17, 2013, Jay Phinney.

FLIGHT TIMES AND PREFERRED FOOD PLANTS:

Amorpha juglandis adults fly from May-August in the northern part of their range, and as at least four broods in Louisiana from March-October.

Amorpha juglandis larvae feed upon Walnut and butternut (Juglans), hickory (Carya), alder (Alnus), beech (Fagus), hazelnut (Corylus), and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya).

Amorpha juglandis male, May 17-18, 2006, Peterborough, Ontario, courtesy of Tim Dyson. View additional Amorpha juglandis by Tim. Visit Amorpha juglandis courtesy of Alison Sklarczyk.

ECLOSION, SCENTING AND MATING:

Moths emerge from subterranean pupae.

Amorpha juglandis female courtesy by Drees.

Amorpha juglandis female, Navarro County, Texas, courtesy of Lacey L. Ogburn.

After emerging from her subterranean chamber, the female will usually climb to hang and inflate her wings properly. At night, before her first flight, she will extend a scent gland from the tip of her abdomen. The gland releases a pheromone into the night sky, and males, flying into the wind in a zig zag fashion, are able to detect the scent, via their antennae, and locate the female.

The moths will often remain "in copula" (paired) until the following evening. The male will fly off in search of another female, and the female will fly off to deposit her green eggs, as many as 200-300 of them (note her swollen abdomen, below).

Ashley Tarleton sends the following image from Houston Texas.

Amorpha juglandis in copula, Houston, Texas,
July 1, 2014, courtesy of Ashley Tarleton.

This species has no mouth parts and no feeding tube. It does not eat in its adult stage, and usually exists as an adult moth for only about a week, just long enough for mating and dispersal of eggs. The moths get their energy for flight from fats stored during their feeding stage as larvae (caterpillars).

EGGS, LARVAE AND PUPAE:

Caterpillars make a squeaking sound when disturbed.

This is one of the first Sphingidae I reared as a boy.

I fed them on hop-hornbeam in a sleeve by our backyard pond/river in New Jersey. I wasn't ready for them when they reached maturity and didn't know they would pupate in a bucket under loose paper towelling.

Seana Saxon sends these nice images from Dallas, Texas, August 3, 2006. The pointed head (outlined in yellow), grainy skin and dominant last abdominal stripe are diagnostic.

Amorpha juglandis fifth instar, Guilford County, North Carolina,
October 2009, courtesy of Susie Bell, her daughter Adrienne, and Isaac Savage.

Susie sent me the image of the Amorpha juglandis image posted above. It had been forwarded to her by her daughter for identification, with the actual image taken by Isaac Savage.

Usually Amorpha juglandis larvae are without the red patches, but the red markings can occur to varying degrees. More consistent characters for this species are the raised whitish dots in regular rings around the girth, the pointed head capsule and the two small protuberances, one on the upper outer edge of each anal claspers.

There are seven diagonal lines with the one extending to the anal horn being the most pronounced.

Visit Amorpha juglandis, Austin, May 13, 2010, courtesy of Suvi Aika.

Larval Food Plants


Listed below are primary food plant(s) and alternate food plants. It is hoped that this alphabetical listing followed by the common name of the foodplant will prove useful. The list is not exhaustive. Experimenting with closely related foodplants is worthwhile.

Alnus
Carya
Corylus.......
Fagus
Juglans
Ostrya

Alder
Hickory
Hazelnut
Beech
Walnut and Butternut
Hop-hornbeam

Return to U. S. A. Table
Return to Main Sphingidae Index
Return to Smerinthini Tribe

Enjoy some of nature's wonderments, giant silk moth cocoons. These cocoons are for sale winter and fall. Beautiful Saturniidae moths will emerge the following spring and summer. Read Actias luna rearing article. Additional online help available.

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