Smerinthus jamaicensis, the Twin-spotted Sphinx

Smerinthus jamaicensis
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(Drury, 1773) Sphinx

Smerinthus jamaicensis male by Bill Oehlke

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

TAXONOMY:

Family: Sphingidae, Latreille, 1802
Subfamily: Sphinginae, Latreille, 1802
Tribe: Smerinthini, Grote & Robinson, 1865
Genus: Smerinthus Latreille, 1802
Species: jamaicensis (Drury, 1773)

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DISTRIBUTION:

Smerinthus jamaicensis, the Twin-spotted Sphinx (wingspan 60-85 mm), is widely distributed across North America and is found everywhere except in the southern half of western California. It has been taken as far north as the Yukon.

I took the first male Smerinthus jamaicenis of season at a light on June 1, 2000, in Montague, P.E.I.. Weather has been very cool and wet.

Smerinthus jamaicensis closely resembles Smerinthus cerisyi, but jamaicensis is much smaller with larger blue patches on more vibrant and deeper purple in the lower wings. Also note the complete (i.e. outer margin to outer margin) off-white arc just below the forewing apex. In S. cerisyi the lower portion of the arc does not return to the outer margin.

Smerinthus jamaicensis, pairing, courtesy of Hynek Habal copyright

Visit Smerinthus jamaicensis, Chaseburg, Vernon County, Wisconsin, May 3, 2012, Dan Jackson

Visit Smerinthus jamaicensis male, Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, 12:30 am, May 19, 2011, courtesy of Ian Miller.

Visit Smerinthus jamaicensis male, Athol, Worcester County, Massachusetts, June 4, 2011, courtesy of Dave Small.

Visit Smerinthus jamaicensis, Los Lunas, Valencia County, New Mexico, July 29, 2009, courtesy of Tracey L. Ballou.

Visit Smerinthus jamaicensis male, Greenfield Center, Saratoga County, New York, August 5, 2010, courtesy of Brandon Capasso.

FLIGHT TIMES:

The Twin-spotted sphinx is single brooded in the northern portions of its range with moths on the wing from early June to early August.

In Louisiana there are at least five broods from late May through November.

ECLOSION:

Moths eclose at night from subterranean pupae which have wiggled to the surface.

The curved abdomen is a clear sign that this moth is a male. Females of the various "eye-sphinxes" rest with the abdomen hanging straight down. Images courtesy of Tim Dyson, Peterborough, Ontario.

SCENTING AND MATING:

The females call the same night and pairing can last for up to twenty hours. Male antennae are quite large, and males rest with their abdomens arced as in the image below.

Smerinthus jamaicensis, Guelph, Ontario, July 23, courtesy of Chris Lee.

EGGS, LARVAE, PUPAE:

Pale green eggs are deposited singly or in pairs on host plant foliage.

Larvae feed upon many forest trees including birches and cherries, but are expecially fond of poplars and willows.


Photo courtesy of David L. Wagner

Smerinthus jamaicensis courtesy/copyright David Wagner.

Smerinthus jamaicensis, fifth instar, Fowl Meadow, Readville, Suffolk County, Massachusetts,
on aspen/poplar, September 24, 2008, courtesy/copyright of Sam Jaffe.

Smerinthus jamaicensis, fifth instar, Fowl Meadow, Readville, Suffolk County, Massachusetts,
on aspen/poplar, September 24, 2008, courtesy/copyright of Sam Jaffe.

Smerinthus jamaicensis larvae can show considerable variation.

Smerinthus jamaicensis third instar, British Columbia,
courtesy of Ben Trott.

Smerinthus jamaicensis fifth instar, British Columbia,
courtesy of Ben Trott.

Smerinthus jamaicensis fifth instar, British Columbia,
courtesy of Ben Trott.

Foodplants:

Populus grandidenta .......

Large-toothed/Bigtooth Aspen

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Enjoy some of nature's wonderments: Saturniidae cocoons. Cocoons of these giant silkmoths are for sale in fall and winter. Large, beautiful moths emerge in the spring and summer.


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