Selected Moths of South Texas
Polyphemus Moth (Anthera polyphemus) Belongs to the Saturniidae family of over 1,000 species which includes many of the world's largest and most spectacular moths. This species is common in the USA.
Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) Rare in southmost Texas. Occurs from Rocky Mountains to east coast.
Calleta Silkmoth (Eupackardia calleta) A southwestern species, present in south Texas primarily along the coastal bend, also in Big Bend and southeastern Arizona.
Forbes' Silkmoth (Rothschildia lebeau forbesi) Only U.S. records from Cameron and Hidalgo Counties. This moth feeds on the plants of many different species in the tropics.
"Chihuahuan Agapema" (Agapema dyari) Similar to Tamaulipan agapema (Agapema galbina), a species which has not been reported north of Mexico since the 1960s.
Io Moth (Automeris io) Wide spread in Eastern U.S., ranges south to at least Costa Rica. Larvae have stinging hairs.
Peigler's Buckmoth (Hemileuca peigleri) All records in central Texas except this one from the coast...
Aellopos Sphinx (Aellops clavipes) Usually Present in the Rio Grande Valley in August. Closely resembles Titan Sphinx. Body is dark brown with a wide white band across the abdomen. Wings are dark brown. Forewing has a black cell spot and 3 white spots near the pale brown marginal area.
Obscure Sphinx (Erinnyis obscura) Present in the Rio Grande Valley. Strays well north of Texas.
Ello Sphinx (Erinnyis ello) Resident in south Florida, Texas, Arizona, southern California, and southern Nevada. Strays northward.
Gaudy Sphinx (Eumorpha labruscae) Recorded from Hidalgo and Cameron Counties. Strays north all the way to southern Canada.
Satellite Sphinx (Eumorpha satellitia) U.S. range restricted to RGV and SE AZ.
Fig Sphinx (Pachylia Ficus) Larvae feed on various species of figs (Ficus sp.) Most U.S. records from southern Florida, Texas and Arizona. Has strayed to Indiana and New York.
Rustic Sphinx (Manduca rustica) Ranges from southern California east to New Jersey. Larvae feed on members of the Oleaceae, Verbenaceae, Boraginaceae, and Bignoniaceae families. This species is less common than other members of the Manduca genus.
Pluto Sphinx (Xylophanes pluto) U.S. records from RGV, Texas and south Florida. In Texas, larvae host on Firebush (Hamelia patens) and Milkberry (Chiococca alba), both in the family Rubiaceae.
Black Witch (Ascalapha odorata) Underside - Eggs - Common most of the year in the RGV. Caterpillar food plants include Acacia, Ebony, Cassia, and Mesquite. This moth regularly migrates to Canada. Natural and Cultural History - North American Records. 2004 was outbreak year. Please send me your records. Thanks!
Owl Moth (Thysania zenobia) A large moth similar in size to the Black Witch but less common.
White Witch (Thysania agrippina) This moth has the largest wing-span of any insect. Ranges north to Mexico.
"Disparate Forester" (Androloma disparata) Common in the RGV. Larvae feed on peppervine.
White-tipped Black (Melanchroia chephise) Most records from November to January. Has been recorded as far north as Dallas, Texas. The larvae of this uncommon moth feeds on Phyllanthus sp. in Florida, family Euphorbiaceae. Phyllanthus spp. are common in Texas. The adults probably mimic Red-bordered Pixies.
Adela Moth (Adela sp.) A small moth with quite long antennae.
Milkweed Tiger Moth (Euchaetes egle) Common throughout eastern North America.
Ornate Utethesia (Utetheisa ornatrix) Common on S. Padre Island. It breeds year round at the Convention Center.
Scarlet-bodied Wasp Moth (Cosmosoma myrodora) Stunning moth! New Calhoun County Record recorded in Port O'Connor October 25, 2006. These moths display warning coloration, yet the caterpillars host on non-toxic Climbing Hempweed, Mikania scandens, (family Asteraceae), a weedy vine at field margins and roadsides that can completely obscure bushes and small trees. The male moth extracts toxins called "pyrrolizidine alkaloids" from Dogfennel Eupatorium (Eupatorium capillifolium) and showers these toxins over the female prior to mating. The scarlet-bodied wasp moth is the only insect known to transfer a chemical defense in this way. For more information, see this Wake Forest University article: A gift of poison: moths and safe sex. The moth occurs along the southeastern U.S. coast from Texas to Florida, This is the fourth Texas coastal record.
Texas Wasp Moth (Horama panthalon texana) A not uncommon day-flying moth in the RGV. Ranges north to the Red River, and west to the Trans-Pecos and Southeastern Arizona.
Syntomeida melanthus "Fairly common in southwest. The adults are both diurnal and nocturnal. The larval hosts are Morning-glories." Per Bordelon's RGV macro moth illustrated checklist
Pseudosphex leovazquezae - US records restricted to Hidalgo Co.
Southern Cyan Tiger Moth (Macrocneme chrysitis) US Records from LRGV with one Hill Country record from Concan, Uvalde County. Sighting in 2006 from Sierra Picachos Mountains in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon.
Saucy Tiger Moth (Phaloesia saucia) - According to Bordelon and Knudson, this locally common species has apparently become more common in recent years. Usually found in the shady area of woods. The males are significantly smaller. Only U.S. records are from Hidalgo and Cameron Counties. Its caterpillar food plant is unknown. The first U.S. specimen was collected in 1910 near Brownsville.
Carmenta armasata - A south Texas diurnal moth not often seen. Known from Starr, Hidalgo, Cameron, Willacy, Uvalde, Medina, Bexar, Travis, and Bastrop counties. Host is unknown. (Data per Charles Bordelon.)
Urania Moth (Urania fulgens) This species undergoes massive migrations in the tropics. Strays have reached as far north as Dallas in the past, yet their food plant doesn't grow further north than southern Veracruz, ~1000 miles to the south!!! Photo of mass laying of fertile eggs in Panama.
Urania Moth (Urania boisduvalii) Present on Cuba.
Southern Flannel Moth (Megalopyge opercularis) DO NOT TOUCH this caterpillar! Also know as an "Asp."
Norape virgo, a Flannel Moth, (photo of larva: hairy, light blue with yellow spots)