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Nature Notebook – Small-eyed Sphinx Moth

On a walk through the Nature Center trails, a large moth on the ground caught my eye. With a furry abdomen, long bristled antennae and small bluish eyespots on the hindwings, the small-eyed sphinx moth rested on a tall piece of unmowed grass. These moths use mimicry with their eyespots, appearing as a larger, inedible animal.

While holding the moth in my hand, it started to fervently vibrate its wings. The small-eyed sphinx moth was warming up its wings in anticipation of a short flight from my hand to the ground.

Wings are not only used for flying in moths. When its time for mating, females, or sometimes males, will climb vegetation, and at a light-cued hour they will fan their wings and release chemical mating lures to attract their counterpart.

The adult moths focus on reproduction, but the bright green caterpillars feed on cherry, basswood or serviceberry. The pupa winters underground and emerges as a moth in late spring and early summer. Adult small-eyed sphinx moths may also look like a curled, dry leaf when perched with the abdomen arched.