Hawk Moths

By William T. Hathaway

Hawk Moths

Sphinx Moths are very large to medium-sized moths with a strongly built body, terminating with a sharply pointed abdomen. The wings are usually narrow.

Some young students seem uncertain as to the pronunciation of the name “sphinx.” There is a tendency to leave out the letter “h.” The alternate name, “hawk moth,” presents no reluctance or hesitation problem in spurting out the name.

The white-lined sphinx (top photo) and the nessus sphinx (below) are two of the smaller species in the family Sphingidae.

The late naturalist Johnny Westbrook aptly described sphinx moths:

“These graceful insects fly with amazing celerity among the flowers, surpassing even the marvelous flight of the hummingbird. At dusk one may stand near a petunia bed and see these moths appear suddenly, flitting from flower to flower with whirring wings, probing the depths for nectar with their long tongues. The tongues are coiled when the moth is resting.”