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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Did You Know? 21 Incredible Modest Sphinx Moth Facts

Explore modest sphinx moth facts.

The modest sphinx moth is one of many species of moths in North America. The modest sphinx is of the family Sphingidae, which is known for having large moths. Also known as big poplar sphinx, they can be found in Canada, New Mexico, Maine, Texas, Oregon, Florida, California, Idaho, and many other areas in the west of Northern America. Big poplar sphinx moths are not as colorful as other butterflies and moths and but known for their dull median band range of colors.  A big poplar sphinx moth is also known for its large size that can be quite overwhelming to most people. Keep on reading to learn more interesting facts about one of the common species moths of North America. Some other great butterflies and moths to check out are the five-spotted hawk moth and the plume moth.

Modest Sphinx Moth Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a modest sphinx moth?

The modest sphinx is a butterfly and a moth.

What class of animal does a modest sphinx moth belong to?

Modest sphinx moths belong to the Insecta class of animals.

How many modest sphinx moths are there in the world?

There is estimated to be a population of 11,000 sphinx moths in the world.

Where does a modest sphinx moth live?

The modest sphinx moth lives in woodlands.

What is a modest sphinx moth's habitat?

An adult sphinx moth usually lives near its larvae food plants, because the female moth much releases the larvae on or near the leaves of host trees. So if you are looking to spot this moth, try searching for willow trees, poplar trees, and cottonwood trees.

Who do modest sphinx moths live with?

Modest sphinx lives among other months with its family and near humans in North America.

How long does a modest sphinx moth live?

Modest sphinx moth's range of life is between 10-30 days, once they become adults.

How do they reproduce?

Adult female modest sphinx moths produce a scent gland from their stomach that will attract male poplar sphinx moths. The female big poplar sphinx moth will lay her eggs on the leaves of host plants, which include poplar, aspen, cottonwood, and willow trees. The eggs are large and translucent light green in color. The eggs take a common range of about nine days to hatch. When the eggs are near the hatching stage, they will turn light brown in color. The caterpillar, or larvae,  is usually light green in color.

What is their conservation status?

The sphinx modest moth's conservation status is Least Concern.

Modest Sphinx Moth Fun Facts

What do modest sphinx moths look like?

Modest sphinx moth adults are hairy and dark gray, taupe, or dark brown in color. Both forewings have two median bands.  The upper median band part is light gray and the bottom half of the median band is light black. It is common for the bottom half median band to have a lighter band; which creates a gradient effect. In the dark center of both forewings,  there is a white dash, also known as a caret. The forewing also has a deeply scalloped outer margin with the bottom outer edges of the wing having a very thin white line along the rim. The bottom half of the moth's wing is a common tan or dark gray. The hind wing is tan with a dark crimson patch and a dark black triangle near its outer margin. The deep crimson patch is found on both the male and the female modest sphinx moth.

Close-up of a modest sphinx moth.

How cute are they?

No. Due to their large size and dark natural color, the giant modest sphinx moth is considered scary to most people.

How do they communicate?

It is common for a moth to communicate with another moth through sound and smell.

How big is a modest sphinx moth?

The modest sphinx moth has a wingspan of approximately 3-5 in (8-12 cm) and a height of 2-3 in  (5-8 cm), which is larger than most moths.

How fast can modest sphinx moths fly?

The North American modest sphinx moth can fly 12 mph (19 kph).

How much does a modest sphinx moth weigh?

Modest sphinx moths weigh around 1 oz (28 g) as adults.  

What are the male and female names of the species?

Female and male species of moths have no distinct names, they are both known as moths.

What would you call a baby modest sphinx moth?

The baby poplar moths are known as caterpillars, eggs, and larvae depending on what stage of development they are in.  

What do they eat?

A big poplar sphinx uses its tongues to consume nectar from flowers. Caterpillar poplar sphinx feasts on host plants of cottonwood trees, poplar trees, aspen trees, and willow trees.

Are they dangerous?

Despite their large size, modest sphinx moths are not considered to be dangerous as moths or caterpillars.

Would they make a good pet?

Not really. Due to their short span of life, a modest sphinx moth would not make a good pet.

Did you know...

Modest sphinx moths are seen once a year throughout North America, from June to July. The caterpillars are spotted from later in July to early September.

Like most species of moth, modest sphinx moths, are asleep during the day and active at night.

The best way to attract a modest sphinx moth is at night with a light source.

Modest sphinx moth's caterpillars pupate and emerge over winter from the shallow burrow in the ground.

Depending on the season and environment, the sphinx moth can take many months to pupate. During the summer, pupation may take just a couple of weeks, but larvae that pupate in autumn will emerge as adults in the spring.

The modest sphinx moth's forked tail is dark gray and brown.

The modest sphinx moth's tail is also fuzzy.

Many species of moths develop ears in order to hear if their predators are near.

Historically, it was believed that moths were not smart, but many moths have the ability to produce sound. These sounds are so soft that bats cannot hear them.  Moths also make sounds to communicate sexually.

Some moths are able to disguise as wasps, tarantulas,  praying mantis, and even bird droppings in order to avoid being eaten.

Caterpillars are known to blend into leaves in order to escape danger.

Moths' fury bodies allow for them to easily pollinate. By simply landing on one flower they are able to collect pollen and pass it off on their next journey. Moths pollinate flowers that are typically highly fragranced and white.

Moths do not have noses, but they are excellent sniffers. Moths use their antennas to detect odors instead of the nose.

Some male moths have the ability to detect a female moth from as far as 7 mi (11 km) away.

Some species of Sphingidae have a proboscis that can measure up to 12 in (30 cm) long.

The sphinx moth species of the family Sphingidae have the longest tongue of all butterflies and moth species.

It is common for adult species of sphinx moths to feed on nothing.

There are estimated to be over 1,200 species of sphinx moths.

Only 125 species of Sphingidae live in North America.

The species of sphinx moths within North America can be found in Mexico, west of Canada, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, and Oregon.  

Sphinx moths are common moths found in every continent except Antarctica.

Sphinx moth larvae are also called hornworms as they possess a harmless but noticeable horn on the outer margin of their hind ends.

Some species of larvae are considered pests because they feed on agricultural crops and cause significant damage.

In their final stage, sphinx moth caterpillars are large in size, some as long as an adult pinky finger!

There are more moths in the world than butterflies!

According to a recent study, more than 90% of people within African countries consume moths, butterflies, and caterpillars.

According to the FDA – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – caterpillars contain healthy fats and proteins. Studies have shown that 3.5 oz (100 g) of caterpillars provide over 100% of the daily requirement of potassium, calcium, zinc, and iron.

Why are they also called poplar moths?

The modest sphinx moth is known as a poplar moth because the leaves of poplar trees are their preferred hosts.

What is the difference between a modest sphinx moth and other moths?

The modest sphinx moth is one of the largest within the Sphingidae family of moths.

The modest sphinx moth is also one of the most common sphinx moths.

Modest sphinx moths are famous for their ability to hover over flowers just like hummingbirds.

Modest sphinx moths are recognized by the crimson patch covered on the center of their outer forewing.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods from our hag moth facts and giant leopard moth facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Modest sphinx moth coloring pages.

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