Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFSphingidae Members: 111 NC Records

Xylophanes tersa (Linnaeus, 1771) - Tersa Sphinx



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Bombycoidea Family: SphingidaeSubfamily: MacroglossinaeTribe: MacroglossiniP3 Number: 890211.00 MONA Number: 7890.00
Comments: Xylophanes is a very large Neotropical genus of some 87 species of which 5 have been found in the U.S. and 1 is resident in North Carolina.
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: Xylophanes tersa is moderately small yellow-brown Sphingid with very narrow, angular wings. Forewings and body are tan and longitudinally striped with narrow bands of yellow and darker brown. The hindwing is black along the costal edge and a band of yellow wedges parallels the margin of the hindwing. Other species of Xylophanes could possibly occur as migrants in North Carolina but have hindwings that usually are uniformly colored and lack the central yellow band. Sexes are similar.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae vary from green to brown and have distinctive sub-dorsal rows of eyespots, the first of which is largest and has eye-lid like bands above and below a dark "pupil". The body is also covered rows of fine circles that form a reticulated pattern; a lateral pale band connects the lower portion of the eyespots and the usual sphingid pattern of oblique pale lines may be present on the sides. Pupation occurs in loose debris on or just below the ground surface (Tuttle, 2007).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Occurs statewide, from the Barrier Islands to 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: There are probably 2-3 broods in the coastal plain and fewer in the mountains.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Occurs primarily in open habitats. We have a large number of records from the Barrier Islands from both dune habitats and maritime forest. Farther inland, tersa has been commonly collected in Longleaf Pine habitats, ranging from wet savannas and flatwoods to dry sandhills. Records from bottomland forests appear to be lacking but we have a number of records from lakeshore habitats. In the Piedmont and Mountains, tersa has been recorded from dry woodlands on ridge tops and there are at least a couple of recent records from high elevation habitats in Mount Mitchell State Park.
Larval Host Plants: Stenophagous, feeding on members of the Rubiaceae. Tuttle (2007) and Wagner (2005) specifically list Buttonweed (Diodia teres) and Buttonplant (Spermacoce glabra), both of which occur in North Carolina; at least some of the larvae that have been photographed here seem to be feeding or resting on Diodia. Other species of the Rubiaceae may also be used, although no records appear to exist from Galium, Houstonia, Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) or other common members of that family. A few records also exist for members of other plant families, including Catalpa (Wagner, 2005; Tuttle, 2007).
Observation Methods: Adults are avid flower visitors at dusk, and we also have a few records from baits. They come well to 15 watt UV lights. Larvae have been observed on a number of occasions, usually as single individuals. We have at least a few records for pupae, probably reflecting the fact that they pupate at or near the surface of the ground.
Wikipedia
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: With its statewide distribution and use of a broad range of habitat types, this species appears to be secure.

 Photo Gallery for Xylophanes tersa - Tersa Sphinx

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

Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-10-01
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: R. Newman on 2021-09-13
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Bo Sullivan on 2021-08-10
Moore Co.
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Recorded by: Darryl Willis on 2021-07-12
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2020-12-04
Harnett Co.
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Recorded by: Susannah Goldston on 2020-11-24
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2020-11-19
Harnett Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2020-11-19
Harnett Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2020-11-19
Harnett Co.
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Recorded by: J. A. Anderson on 2020-11-15
New Hanover Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2020-11-09
Harnett Co.
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Recorded by: R. Newman on 2020-10-25
Carteret Co.
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Recorded by: Erich Hofmann on 2020-09-15
New Hanover Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-09-08
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-09-02
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-08-27
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Heather Burditt on 2020-06-08
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Heather Burditt on 2020-06-08
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Amanda Auxier on 2019-10-20
Pender Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2019-08-26
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2019-08-26
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2019-08-06
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2019-08-03
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2019-07-30
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: L. M. Carlson on 2019-07-28
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2019-05-09
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: R. Evans on 2018-09-27
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Alicia Ballard on 2018-08-05
Alamance Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields, Zoology students on 2017-10-24
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Mark Shields on 2017-09-29
Onslow Co.
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