Lapara bombycoides, the Northern Pine Sphinx

Lapara bombycoides
luh-PAHR-uhmm bom-bih-KOY-dees
Northern Pine Sphinx
Walker, 1856

Lapara bombycoides courtesy of Natural Resources, Canada.

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Family: Sphingidae Latreille, [1802]
Subfamily: Sphinginae Latreille [1802]
Tribe: Sphingini Latreille, [1802]
Genus: Lapara Walker, 1856
Species: bombycoides (Walker, 1856)


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Lapara bombycoides, July 3, Peterborough, Ontario, courtesy of Tim Dyson.


Lapara bombycoides, the Northern Pine Sphinx (Wing span: 1 3/4 - 2 3/8 inches (4.5 - 6 cm)), ranges through mixed and coniferous forest in southern portions of Canadian provinces from Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. It is also found in northeastern Alberta and central Saskatchewan.

In the eastern half of the U.S. it can be found in extreme northeastern North Dakota, most of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York northward through Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine and southward in the Appalachian range from New Jersey to western North Carolina.

The upperside of the forewing is gray with heavy black bands. The upperside of the hindwing is brownish gray with no markings.

The underside is rather plain as per this image, courtesy of Tim Dyson, Peterborough, Ontario, July 6, 2005.

Visit Lapara bombycoides, Thorton, Grafton County, New Hampshire, courtesy of Deb Lievens.

Visit Lapara bombycoides adult moth, Florence, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, June 5, 2010; Athol, Worcester County, Massachusetts, June 18, 2011, courtesy of Betsy Higgins.


Male and female Lapara bombycoides moths come readily to lights from mid June to mid July in Canada.


Little is known about the eclosions of the earth pupators, but many believe pupae wiggle toward the surface just prior to emergence.


Female Lapara bombycoides extend a scent gland from the posterior of the abdomen to lure in the night flying males.

Livestock of the Northern Pine Sphinx is usually available in the fall.


Lapara bombycoides eggs are a translucent pale green and incubation lasts 8-10 days at constant temp of 68-72 F.

Larvae are without the anal horn (even in the first instar) typical of most members of this family. Images to right and below, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

Larvae feed upon various pine species, including red pine (Pinus resinosa), pitch pine (P. rigida), and Scotch pine (P. sylvestris); and American larch (Larix laricina).

The white longitudinal stripes of this third instar larva break the body into slender green "needles".

Larvae progress very rapidly in later instars and are very attractive and somehow remind me of Graellsia isabellae, a Saturnid pine feeder from Spain.

The red down the center of the back (fourth instar) also blends in with the pine bark and the sheath at the base of the needle.

The red down the center of the back (fifth instar) is more extensive and suggests the needles which have dried with summer heat. The white lines have yellowed.

Ian Miller from Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, reports, "When disturbed the larva pulls its real legs into its body and tries to look like a twig or piece of bark."

Lapara bombycoides fifth instar larva by Bill Oehlke.

Lapara bombycoides fifth instar, Washington County, Rhode Island,
on Pinus strobus, September 12, 2010, courtesy of Ryan St. Laurent.

Look for greenish true (thoracic) legs on mature Lapara bombycoides. Those of Lapara coniferarum are orangey.

Larvae pupate readily under and/or between paper towels (no soil medium needed) in a dark bucket.

Mixtures of soil, sand, peat and leaf litter can also be used as pupation mediums. Under natural conditions pupation occurs in a shallow subterranean chamber reinforced with silk. Pupae darken considerably as the shell hardens.

Lapara bombycoides pupae, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

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