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Species Page - Sphinx poecila
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scientific name    Sphinx poecila    

common name     Poecila Sphinx

Mesic boreal forest, bogs and fens.

Adults are on the wing in Alberta from late May through early July.

A large (6.5-9.0 cm wingspan), long-winged, heavy-bodied dark grey moth. The forewings are dark grey and black with a number of fine black horizontal streaks, and the veins are faintly marked with black scales. There is usually a small white spot in the forewing cell, and the fringe is white with some black checkering. The hindwings are black with a lighter grey basal patch and median band and a white fringe. The thorax is black with grey along the sides, and the abdomen has a series of large, lateral grey and black spots. S. poecila is similar in pattern to S. vashti and S. chersis, but much darker grey overall. S. drupiferarum is two-tone black and grey. The very closely related S. gordius has been found as far west as central Saskatchewan and may well turn up in Alberta. In poecila, the submarginal area maintains the same general ground color as the rest of the dorsal forewing, while the submarginal area in gordius is distinctly darker than the ground color of the remainder of the wing.

life history
Poecila sphinx are largely nocturnal and come to light, but have also been observed nectaring at blossoms during the day. There is a single brood each year. The larvae are solitary defoliators, and the pupae overwinter in the soil. It is considered by some to be the most common sphinx moth in Canada.

A locally common widespread species; no reasons for concern.

diet info
No Alberta data; elsewhere larch (Larix laricina), sweetfern (Myrica gale), meadowsweet (Spiraea sp), and blueberry (Vaccinium sp.).

Mainly Boreal, from the Maritimes west to the Alberta foothills. The southern limits of occurrence are uncertain owing to the confusion in the literature with S. gordius. In Alberta, poecila has been collected throughout the Boreal forest region, north to the Peace River and Lake Athabasca areas, south to Nordegg and Edmonton.

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Comments (3)Add New Comment

G.de Heus (2013-08-11)
ik heb er een in onze tuin ontdekt.

Danny Shpeley (2013-08-12)
The above comment translates to "I've come across one in our garden". Sphinx poecila does not occur in the Old World. The one observed by G. de Heus in the Netherlands is a sphingid that is similar in appearance to Sphinx poecila.

Arthur (2013-09-14)
Hier in Enschede zon rups gevonden

Comments are published according to our submission guidelines. The EH Strickland Entomological Museum does not necessarily endorse the views expressed.

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Related Species Info
Display Hierarchy
References (2)
Specimen Info
There are 30 specimens of this species in the online database
Map Distribution
Adult Seasonal Distributioncreate a collection histogram with specimens
Specimen List (30)
Related Links
Moth Photographers Group


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