Tersa Sphinx Moth (Xylophanes tersa)

Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Sphingidae
Genus: Xylophanes
Species: tersa


This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:

Hartford, Alabama
Vincent, Alabama
Barling, Arkansas
Altamonte Springs, Florida
Beverly Hills, Florida
Bradenton, Florida
Cantonment, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida
Crestview, Florida
Frostproof, Florida
Gotha, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Lake City, Florida
Lake Worth, Florida
Largo, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Melbourne, Florida
Port Richey, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Columbus, Georgia
Kennesaw, Georgia
Ringgold, Georgia
Hinsdale, Illinois
Jeffersonville, Indiana
Benton, Kentucky
Coushatta, Louisiana
Tupelo, Mississippi
Roswell, New Mexico
Holly Springs, North Carolina
Mooresville, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Edmond, Oklahoma
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
Greenbrier, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee
Collinsville, Texas
Edinburg, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas (3 reports)
Houston, Texas
Jacksonville, Texas
Laredo, Texas
Linden, Texas
Missouri City, Texas
New Caney, Texas
Portland, Texas
Rowlett, Texas
Spring, Texas
Norfolk, Virginia
Show all

Members' Notes:


On Jan 5, 2021, mcrousse from Holly Springs, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Zone 7b NC here.

Every year, we get this species on our Manettia cordifolia plants. I don\'t mind a few of them, but if their numbers aren\'t thinned out (manual removal), they completely decimate the plant. My local birds don\'t seem to to be interested in eating them. They even crawled into our garage as a last instar caterpillar and pupated there next to the wall.


On Feb 14, 2016, JoyganicGardens from Largo, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I discovered these beauties a couple days ago and every day I go and check in the flower bush to see if they are there and admire them. Every day i discover another one. So far I have found a total of 5 of them in 3 different color markings (2 photos of them have been uploaded into the database). I am so fascinated by these cats! Flowers here are grown for the purpose of attracting our wildlife critters such as bees and butterflies, so we certainly don't mind them getting their grub on here. I'm new to the tampa bay area of florida so these were an awesome find to me. I discovered their adult moth form last summer so it is even more exciting to me to see them in their cat form :)


On Feb 8, 2012, Milly10 from Altamonte Springs, FL wrote:

About a month ago, while weeding around the edges of my lawn, I found a chrysalis of what turned out to be the tersa sphinx. I was surprised to find it just laying in the grass and assumed it must have blown off a tree or bush. I now know that these moths pupate underground or under leaf debris. A day later, perhaps I wouldn't have found it!
I waited patiently for a month with the chrysalis in a glass jar. Finally, two days ago the color changed to a darker brown and this morning the moth eclosed--while I was away from my desk, of course. It was a wonderful experience and several of my coworkers were just as excited as I was to watch its wings dry and its full color appear. When its wings were working, we took the moth outside and released it.


On Mar 1, 2010, LoveForests from FU,
United States (Zone 9b) wrote:

Was sitting outside one late night. They like to rest near an outdoor light on the house. I went to pet his wing while he was resting on the ground and he turned around, started to vibrate his wings real fast and it sounded like a Bee sound, then I got up and moved away slowly and he started to walk after me, following my every move, lol. So I decided to get away from him and go back indoors for the night.


On Aug 15, 2009, crickett1142 from Jeffersonville, IN wrote:

I found a yellow one on my rose bush. as not knowing what they was, we came here to see if we could fine one.


On Apr 27, 2008, debnes_dfw_tx from Fort Worth, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This is some very cool garden character. Sure they do "damage", lol... It's called sustenance! Every caterpillar requires a host plant in order to become a butterfly or moth. The main favorite of the Tersa is Penta, and they are actually quite picky. The cats can always be moved out of the main "show" garden to some potted plants in a less visible location.
These are very fun cats to raise, especially if there are any children around to track the stages with. Their cartoonish faces are way too cute not to love!! When they are ready to pupate they will crawl down into the leaf litter below the plant. This pupa can be collected to await it's emergence. That will generally happen sometime after midnight on about day 10-12. Like the majority of moths, the Tersa Sphinx Moth is... read more


On Nov 12, 2006, TexasPuddyPrint from Edinburg, TX wrote:

I added a photo of both a brown and green tersa sphinx cat. They are good looking cats :o) Our local butterfly parks plant plenty of nectaring and larval host plants so it's always nice to see their efforts paying off :o)

One of the local nurseries calls me up periodically - seems their customers come in with jars of 'worms' they find eating their plants and want to know how to kill them!

Am always puzzled why folks want butterflies in their yard then complain about the 'worms' - it's called the cycle of life.

It's a good thing the guys at the nursery just about have me on speed-dial :o) They call me up and I go collect the caterpillars to raise and release them in my yard.

Will say Tersa cats are voracious eaters and they ... read more


On Oct 25, 2006, aprilwillis from Missouri City, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Amazingly interesting cat for such a boring looking adult moth- unfortunately sphinx moths do a lot of damage to ornamentals.


On Oct 4, 2006, tajataja from Hull,Ga, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

This evening I was outside taking pictures of my angles trumpets and these moths were all over the flowers, going up in them. WOW I got a picture....