Euproserpinus euterpe

Euproserpinus euterpe
you proh-SER-pye-nus mm you-TUR-pee
H. Edwards, 1888
Kern Primrose Sphinx

Euproserpinus euterpe

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke at
Comments, suggestions and/or additional information are welcomed by Bill.


Family: Sphingidae, Latreille, 1802
Subfamily: Macroglossinae, Harris, 1839
Tribe: Macroglossini, Harris, 1839
Genus: Euproserpinus Grote & Robinson, 1865...........
Species: euterpe H. Edwards, 1888


.....It's a Wonderful World.....
copyright C. Odenkirk
<bgsound src="world.mid" LOOP=FOREVER>

Paul Tuskes, May 4, 2005 writes, "This moth is listed as a threatened species, and is not to be collected, nor are collectors to disturb the habitat, eggs, larvae or the moth."

Kern Primrose Sphinx, Carrizo Plain, San Luis Obispo County, California,
courtesy of Paul Johnson, late January 2005. This is a protected species.

Paul Johnson, (National Parks Service) writes, "It's my understanding that it's the only moth in the continental U.S. listed under the Endangered Species Act. It's listed as threatened, so it is legally protected from collecting or any sort of harm wherever it is found."

See an image of a sleeping male courtesy of Paul Johnson.

For additional information see Tuskes, P.M. and J.F. Emmel. 1981. The Life History and Behavior of Euproserpinus euterpe (Sphingidae). J. Lep Soc. 35(1) pp 27-33.


Kern Primrose Sphinx, Euproserpinus euterpe, [wingspan: 1 3/4 - 2 1/8 inches (4.5 - 5.4 cm)], flies during the day in the Walker Basin in Kern County, San Luis Obispo County, southern California, (specimen type locality), and probably in at least one other southern California county.

The upperside of the forewing is brown with black transverse lines throughout. The upperside of the hindwing is white with a black outer margin and black at the base.

E. euterpe is distinguished by the "labial palpus that is mixed pale and dark gray, not bordered dorsally with a distinct black line; middle portion of the forewing with numerous, transverse lines and dark gray pattern.

The image of the live moth to the right, March 7, 2004, is thought to be either E. euterpe or possibly an unidentified Euproserpinus species from southern California.

The same moth, below, courtesy of Paul Johnson, has been confirmed as E. euterpe.

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.

I do not know the origin of "Euproserpinus", but the species name "euterpe" comes from the Greek muse of music, Euterpe the "Giver of Pleasure", who is represented with a flute. She bore, by the river Strymon, Rhesus who was slain at Troy.


Euproserpinus euterpe adults fly in pastures and fallow fields. as a single brood from late January-February-April and nectar at flowers of filaree (Erodium) and Nemophila during the warm parts of the day, basking on patches of bare ground, roads, and rodent burrows. When the afternoon wind stirs up, the moths move to more sheltered basking sites.


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


Females call in the males with a pheromone released from a gland at the tip of the abdomen.


Females deposit eggs singly or in pairs on the underside of host leaves. Young caterpillars eat flowers, while older caterpillars eat flowers and new leaves. Larvae feed on Camissonia contorta epilobioides in the primrose family (Onagraceae).

Image of larva on Camissonia courtesy of Paul G. Johnson II.

This larva is believed to be that of Euproserpinus euterpe.

The next two images below are also thought to be Euproserpinus euterpe, taken April 2, 2004 by Paul Johnson. The larva is in an early instar, probably late second or early third, being about 10mm long.

The next two images are from April 13, 2004 courtesy of Paul Johnson. This is probably the final instar.

This one, also by Paul Johnson, is from 2003.

The next two images are also thought to be Euproserpinus euterpe, courtesy of T. W. Davies, 1979, CAL photos. Note date.

Visit Euproserpinus phaeton "mojave" or nominate phaeton or euterpe larvae (all instars), Los Angeles County, California, courtesy of Jennifer L. Bundy.

Jennifer writes, "First weekend of April, I hit the road in search of Euproserpinus phaeton mojave (either adult, caterpillar, or ova). My trip would end as far north as Los Angeles County. In one region of L.A. county, I sampled from 5 different localities (roadside, washes, hillside) and looking under every Oenothera (Primrose) leaf I could for ova. The problem is that Euproserpinus and Hyles ova are almost identical and both moths post ova under the leaf. With each tiny green egg I found, my only option was to take it home and wait to see what emerges.

"I brought the ova home and set them up in cups labeled with locality markers. Of the estimate 150 ova from L.A. County, 149 were Hyles and only one would turn out to be Euproserpinus.

"Being that the ovum is from L.A. County, and based on prior research, the species would have to be mojave, or nominate, and not euterpe. However, this caterpillar is rather colorful. Comparing my photos of this cat with Paul Johnson’s photos at Bill Oehlke’s site, it looks like euterpe. For those familiar with seeing phaeton and euterpe caterpillars in the field, please have a look at my shots and tell me what you think. Regardless of what species, I was sad to see the conditions of the habitat - there was trash piles everywhere and it's also a semi-motocross track."

I think Jennifer's images from Los Angeles County, California, are probably nominate phaeton, or just a normal variation in colour. They could also be Euproserpinus euterpe, representing a slight extension of the published reports for this species. The possibility of naturally occuring hybrids should not be ruled out.

Use your browser "Back" button to return to the previous page.

Goto Main Sphingidae Index
Goto Macroglossini Tribe
Goto Central American Indices
Goto Carribean Islands
Goto South American Indices
Goto U.S.A. tables

Enjoy one of nature's wonderments: Live Saturniidae (Giant Silkmoth) cocoons.

Show appreciation for this site by clicking on flashing butterfly to the left.
The link will take you to a page with links to many insect sites.