Moths of North Carolina
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Smerinthus Members:
20 NC Records

Smerinthus jamaicensis (Drury, 1773) - Twin-spotted Sphinx

Superfamily: Bombycoidea Family: SphingidaeSubfamily: SmerinthinaeTribe: SmerinthiniP3 Number: 890140.00 MONA Number: 7821.00
Comments: A genus of 10 species across the Holarctic with three occurring in the United States and one reaching North Carolina. The hindwing pattern will recall Paonias to which Smerinthus is closely related.
Species Status: Barcodes are not available from North Carolina specimens but there is no evidence for heterogeneity elsewhere.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1948); Hodges (1971); Tuttle (2007)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1948); Wagner (2005); Tuttle (2007)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A spectacular brown or gray sphinx moth with a waved outer margin on its forewings and two iridescent blue eyepots on the hindwings, surrounded by crimson and yellow. Even with the hindwings not in view, the presence of the black half moon at the apex of the forewing distinguishes our species (this character is variable in size and sometimes missing on one wing). Sexes are similar.
Wingspan: 5 - 7 cm (Covell, 1984)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are blue-green and are covered with white granules (Wagner, 2005). Six lateral, oblique pale stripes are present, the last of which extends onto the caudal horn. Similar in appearance to some forms of Paonias excaecata (see Wagner, 2005 for distinguishing details).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Given its overall geographic range, this species should be expected to occur throughout the state.
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ‚Č• 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: In the coastal plain there are two broods (April, July) but records from the mountains indicate a single brood.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Any habitat that supports willows which usually means wet meadows or freshwater marshlands, or along ditches and small streams.
Larval Host Plants: Willows but no preferences among the species or specific willow habitats have been reported. Poplar, birch and apple have been reported as foodplants in the past but recent use of these plants is unrecorded. - View
Observation Methods: Adults come to lights but not to flowers nor bait. The scarcity of records may indicate that higher intensity UV lights are needed instead of the 15 watt blacklights normally used for sampling. Although we have often searched for caterpillars on willows, this species has not been found. It is not likely that adults fly far from the foodplants as the females are quite heavy with eggs.
See also Habitat Account for Shoreline Shrublands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: [W3]
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 S3S4
State Protection: Not currently listed by the Natural Heritage Program but the scarcity of records suggests that it be added to the Watch List. While it has no statewide protection, permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This species appears to be quite scarce in North Carolina. Host plants and habitats do not appear to be limiting factors, nor does this species appear to show any geographic restrictions. Although use of higher intensity UV lights, such as mercury vapor, is likely to produce a more accurate assessment of its abundance and distribution, we note that it was collected using 15 watt blacklights on six different occasions covering two different years at Eagle Island in the Cape Fear River estuary.

 Photo Gallery for Smerinthus jamaicensis - Twin-spotted Sphinx

Photos: 9

Recorded by: Lior S. Carlson, Dean Furbish on 2024-06-18
Lincoln Co.
Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2023-05-23
Orange Co.
Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2023-05-23
Orange Co.
Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2019-07-18
Buncombe Co.
Recorded by: B. Bockhahn on 2014-05-27
Durham Co.
Recorded by: Lenny Lampel on 2014-04-24
Mecklenburg Co.
Recorded by: Doug Blatny / Jackie Nelson on 2013-08-22
Ashe Co.
Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2013-05-16
Cabarrus Co.
Recorded by: SPH on 2006-08-25
Orange Co.
Comment: Wingspan = 5.9 cm; forewing length = 3.0 cm