Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFSphingidae Members: 81 NC Records

Manduca sexta (Linnaeus, 1763) - Carolina Sphinx



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Bombycoidea Family: SphingidaeSubfamily: SphinginaeTribe: SphinginiP3 Number: 890090.00 MONA Number: 7775.00
Comments: A large Neotropical genus (63 species) of which 10 occur in the United States and 4 in North Carolina. This is our most well-known species.
Species Status: Barcodes indicate that Manduca sexta is a single, well-defined species in our area.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1948); Hodges (1971); Tuttle (2007)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1948); Wagner (2005); Tuttle (2007)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A large, grayish-brown sphinx moth. Manduca sexta is very similar and often confused with M. quinquemaculatus which is grayer but similar in size and feeds on many of the same plants. M. sexta is browner and in the hindwing there is a median thick black line formed by the merger of two lines. In M. quinquemaculatus these two black lines are separate for their entire length with gray between them. Additionally, M. sexta has a series of small white dots at the base of the forewing which are absent in M. quinquemaculatus. The overall pattern is smudged in M. sexta but distinct, crisp and quite elegant in M. quinquemaculatus.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are green or brown and have seven oblique white lines along their sides, along with a reddish horn (Wagner, 2005). Pupation occurs underground.
Larvae ID Requirements: Unmistakable and widely known.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: This species occurs across the state, but is rare in the high mountains.
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Immature Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Probably two principal broods.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species occurs in open agricultural areas throughout the state. The larvae are known as tobacco hornworms and are a common pest of tomatoes in home gardens and tobacco in agricultural fields.
Larval Host Plants: Feeds on most members of the Solanaceae but most often on tobacco and tomato.
Observation Methods: Adults are active from dusk onward at flowers and are attracted to strong lights, such as mercury-vapor lamps, but come only in small numbers to 15 watt UV lights. They do not come to baits.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Fields, Gardens, and Ruderal Habitats
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S5]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: Found primarily in agricultural areas and is not of conservation concern in North Carolina

 Photo Gallery for Manduca sexta - Carolina Sphinx

47 photos are available. Only the most recent 30 are shown.

Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-09-04
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-08-12
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Bo Sullivan on 2021-08-10
Richmond Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Bo Sullivan on 2021-08-09
Moore Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-08-05
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-08-02
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-06-17
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-06-14
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-09-04
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-08-27
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-08-25
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Linda Batts on 2019-08-17
Wilson Co.
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Recorded by: Linda Batts on 2019-08-17
Wilson Co.
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Recorded by: Linda Batts on 2019-08-17
Wilson Co.
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Recorded by: L. M. Carlson on 2019-07-31
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Becky Elkin, Steve Hall and Bo Sullivan on 2019-07-30
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-07-10
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-07-10
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2018-09-05
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2018-09-05
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2018-08-30
Orange Co.
Comment: Feeding on bell pepper
Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2018-08-29
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2018-08-29
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2018-08-08
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Ken Kneidel on 2018-08-08
Mecklenburg Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Dowlan on 2018-07-19
Watauga Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2016-08-30
McDowell Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2016-08-30
McDowell Co.
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Recorded by: Hunter Phillips on 2016-06-04
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2015-08-31
Warren Co.
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