Arctonotus lucidus

Arctonotus lucidus
Boisduval, 1852

Arctonotus lucidus courtesy of T. W. Davies, enhanced by Dennis Haines.

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Family: Sphingidae, Latreille, 1802
Subfamily: Macroglossinae, Harris, 1839
Tribe: Macroglossini, Harris, 1839
Genus: Arctonotus Boisduval, 1852 ...........
Species: lucidus Boisduval, 1875


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The Pacific Green Sphinx Moth or Bear Sphinx, Arctonotus lucidus, [wingspan: 1 7/8 - 2 3/8 inches (4.8 - 6.1 cm)], flies in the early evening (after 6:00 pm) and at night in oak woodlands and grassy meadows in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California and into Mexico. They respond to lights at night.

Arctonotus lucidus, male, Orange Cove, Tulare County, CA,
December 13, 2004, at lights, courtesy of Dennis Haines.

Arctonotus lucidus, male, Orange Cove, Tulare County, CA,
elev. 470', January 12, 2005, at lights, courtesy of Dennis Haines.

These moths have a short, stout body. The upperside of the forewing is green to olive green with pink and brown markings. The upperside of the hindwing is pale rose pink with a darker submarginal band.

Arctonotus clarki Barnes & Benjamin, 1923, Washington, is the same as Arctonotus lucidus.

Dave Wikle reports: "This little gem (just slightly northeast of center) came to blacklight with 3 buddies between 9:00pm and 9:45pm. These were found in the Cuyama Valley, Santa Barbara County, Ca., last night December 17, 2003. Temps 2 nights ago in upper 20's, following rains of 1/10" 3 days ago, last night upper 40's when they flew. Elevation 2570', South side of the valley, habitat is live oak and scrub grassland (ag+grazing) bordering the manzanita, cercocarpus, redshanks community 1/2 mile to the South."


Arctonotus lucidus adults fly as a single brood from mid January to March and nectar at flowers. Moths can be spotted much earlier (mid December) in more southerly locations (San Diego, California; Mexico) when weather conditions are right. Paul Johnson writes, "In the last couple years this species has been flying in early November in Central and Southern California. Paul regularly sees them at lights at night.

David Wikle reports taking a female at 6:30 pm, January 13, 2004, near San Diego at high elevation 3700 feet and temp of 59 F.

Patience Hervey reports them in Chico (Butte County), California, on December 29-30 at lights.

Edna Woodward reports a flight on January 16, 2010 in Wolf Creek, Josephine County in southwestern Oregon.

Visit Arctonotus lucidus, Mariposa, Mariposa County, California, January 29, 2012, Laura Pound

Visit Arctonotus lucidus, Wolf Creek, Josephine County, Oregon, February 1, 2010, air temperature at 35 F, courtesy of Edna Woodward.

Visit Arctonotus lucidus, Spokane, Washington, March, 2011, courtesy of Zana Goulding.


Pupae probably wiggle to surface from subterranean chambers just prior to eclosion.

Dave Wikle, Pasadena, California, writes, "News from the zoo: The first progeny of a 2004 female Arctonotus lucidus eclosed on Tuesday Jan 25, 2005, or Monday night after dark.

"It is a male, the green color even more emerald and brilliant than the ones taken in the field.

It had been warm and dry since our monster rains of the first half of January 2005, and this eclosure was 24 hrs prior to the next rains (as in it is raining right now in So Cal.)

"The gravid female was taken in San Diego Co. Jan 13, 2004 and oviposited for me a week later. I collected the pupae from the rearing tub floor several weeks after pupation, and kept them indoors, non refrigerated, in a sealed tupperware container with a dry paper towel in it to absorb excess moisture till December when I set them near an open window to be closer to outside temps.

(Arctonotus lucidus male, Dave Wikle.)

"At the onset of the late December rains, I moved the bulk of the pupae to a larger tub with 2" of moist/wet sand, and made small impressions in the sand for each pupa, then covered with a layer of TP (unscented) and sprayed down with water.

"I kept about half a dozen in the original dry tupperware container inside near the window but moved the sanded pupae outside into the torrential rains (having cut drainage slits in the plastic tub) about Jan 3.

"The inside dry pupae stayed compact but the wet ones immediately expanded to twice their size, waiting for the right time to eclose. With this first eclosure and another rain, I have sprayed down the dry pupae and will move them outside this week to see if the 3 week gap has any effect on eclosion time- as in will the two batches all eclose en masse."


Females call in the males with a pheromone released from a gland at the tip of the abdomen. Daniel Rubinoff writes, "The females have threadlike antennae and noticably broader forewings than the males."


Eggs are emerald green and females will oviposit in a paper bag without feeding.

Larvae feed on evening primrose (Oenothera dentata var. campestris) and clarkias. David Wikle fed them on both Mexican evening primrose, Oenothera berlandieri and evening primrose, Oenothera biennis.

To the right, tiny first instar larvae are feeding on a potted plant.

David reports: "From what I could garner, the first instar is yellowish with a black head, the second is green with a green head, the third stays green but gains a slight white side stripe, and the fourth is either dark colored (early on, it is an incredibly beautiful slate/cobalt mix on top) or else green, but with side spots,"

David continues, "and in the fifth, the 'eye of God' is pasted on its arse and the horn is replaced by a raised area like Xylophanes or Eumorpha larvae."

All larval images are courtesy of David Wikle.

Paul Johnson sent me this image of what appears to be a fourth instar larva, 2 April, 2004 at Pinnacles National Monument, San Benito County, Caklifornia. He writes, "The image was taken first thing in the morning, so I think this was its overnight position. The Arctonotus is on Camissonia.

David Wikle was successful in getting this species to pupate.

The pronunciation of scientific names is troublesome for many. The "suggestion" at the top of the page is merely a suggestion. It is based on commonly accepted English pronunciation of Greek names and/or some fairly well accepted "rules" for latinized scientific names.

The suggested pronunciations, on this page and on other pages, are primarily put forward to assist those who hear with internal ears as they read.

There are many collectors from different countries whose intonations and accents would be different.

Some of the early describers/namers chose genus and species names indicating some character of the insect, but more often, they simply chose names from Greek or Roman mythology or history.

Those species names which end in "ensis" indicate a specimen locale, and those which end in "i", pronounced "eye", honour a contempory friend/collector/etc.

In Greek myth, "Arcto" means bear and "Notus" is the God of the South Wind which is warm, humid and quite balmy. As a very early-spring flier along the west coast, the name for this genus may have been chosen to reflect the weather and the emergence of bears from their hibernation.

The species name "lucidus" may have been chosen for the relative brightness of the hindwings.

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