Species Details

Pachysphinx modesta

University of Alberta E.H. Strickland Entomological Museum Read more about this collection »

Common NameBig Poplar Sphinx SeasonalityAdults are on the wing from mid May through mid July. IdentificationA very large moth (10.0-12.0 cm. wingspan) with long, narrow forewings banded with light and dark grey-brown and a maroon hindwing with a blue-black blotch in the anal angle. Nearly impossible to mistake for any other Alberta moth. Very pale specimens from southern Alberta have been called Pachysphinx occidentalis. P. occidentalis is a much lighter tan moth with more extensive maroon shading on the hindwing. However, Alberta specimens appear to grade from pale to dark forms, and all Alberta Pachysphinx are treated here as modesta, pending further study.

Scientific Name Pachysphinx modesta Common Name Big Poplar Sphinx Habitat Open mature poplar forest or mixedwood forest with poplar. Seasonality Adults are on the wing from mid May through mid July. Identification
A very large moth (10.0-12.0 cm. wingspan) with long, narrow forewings banded with light and dark grey-brown and a maroon hindwing with a blue-black blotch in the anal angle. Nearly impossible to mistake for any other…
A very large moth (10.0-12.0 cm. wingspan) with long, narrow forewings banded with light and dark grey-brown and a maroon hindwing with a blue-black blotch in the anal angle. Nearly impossible to mistake for any other Alberta moth. Very pale specimens from southern Alberta have been called Pachysphinx occidentalis. P. occidentalis is a much lighter tan moth with more extensive maroon shading on the hindwing. However, Alberta specimens appear to grade from pale to dark forms, and all Alberta Pachysphinx are treated here as modesta, pending further study.
Life History
Adult Big Poplar sphinx are nocturnal, and come readily to light. The large green larvae are reputed to be the largest insect in Alberta, based on weight. The larval stage extends from mid-July to September, and they…
Adult Big Poplar sphinx are nocturnal, and come readily to light. The large green larvae are reputed to be the largest insect in Alberta, based on weight. The larval stage extends from mid-July to September, and they overwinter in the ground as pupae.
Conservation A common, widespread moth. No concerns. Diet Info No Alberta data. Elsewhere poplars, and in particular aspen poplar. There are also single reports from willow and birch, but these should be confirmed. Range
Throughout much of North America, from the Gulf States north into the Boreal forest region across Canada. In Alberta, it occurs in cottonwood stands along the rivers of the plains (occidentalis ?) north into the…
Throughout much of North America, from the Gulf States north into the Boreal forest region across Canada. In Alberta, it occurs in cottonwood stands along the rivers of the plains (occidentalis ?) north into the boreal forest at least to Ft. McMurray, and west into the mountains at low elevations.
Pachysphinx modesta
Pachysphinx modesta

Citation

Page Citation for Pachysphinx modesta

Page Citation

"Pachysphinx modesta, University of Alberta E.H. Strickland Entomological Museum." University of Alberta Museums Search Site, https://search.museums.ualberta.ca/g/2-439. Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Kingdom Animalia Phylum Arthropoda Class Hexapoda Subclass Insecta Order Lepidoptera Suborder Ditrysia Superfamily Sphingoidea Family Sphingidae Genus Pachysphinx Species Pachysphinx modesta
This hierarchy is created from our museum records, it may not always accurately reflect modern taxonomies.

Taxonomic Hierarchy for University of Alberta E.H. Strickland Entomological Museum