Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the August 31, 2003 Newsletter, issued from near Natchez, Mississippi:

Last week I told you how the Carolina Sphinx Moth, Manduca sexta, came to my Four O'clocks as I waited for the Moonflower to open. One recent evening a friend came by with a digital camera, so at dusk we tried for a picture. We were lucky, for that night THREE sphinx moths appeared.

Rustic Sphinx, MANDUCA RUSTICAAfter a few failed attempts, just as we were giving up because it was getting too dark, we did get a good picture of a sphinx moth. Moreover, once we saw the picture, it was apparent that we had a sphinx moth other than the Carolina. Turns out that that night along with two Carolinas we also had a closely related Rustic Sphinx, MANDUCA RUSTICA, shown at the right.

Rustics are distributed from Virginia to south Florida, west to Arkansas, Texas, southern New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California, then south through Central America to Uruguay. In our area the species' caterpillars, instead of eating tomato vines like the Carolina Sphinx Moth, feed on members of the Vervain and Bignonia families. Our Loblolly field is thick with Brazilian Vervains, and our woods have many Cross-vines and Trumpet Creepers, which are members of the Bignonia Family. You can compare our picture with a Rustic Sphinx moth at www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/lepid/moths/usa/1080.htm