Manduca rustica rustica
Updated as per (Belize), November 2007
Updated as per Fauna Entomologica De Nicarauga, November 2007
Updated as per The Known Sphingidae of Costa Rica, November 2007
Updated as per personal communication with Johan van't Bosch (Mato Grosso, Brazil, September), March 2008
Updated as per Hawkmoths of Argentina, More, Kitching and Coccuci 2005, December 2008
Updated as per personal communication with Andy Warren, (Aloysia virgata in Florida); September 2010
Updated as per French Guiana Sphingidae; March 9, 2011
Updated as per personal communication with Ben Trott (Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico); February 27, 2012

Manduca rustica rustica
Rustic Sphinx
(Fabricius, 1775) Sphinx

Manduca rustica rustica female courtesy of David Liebman.

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


Family: Sphingidae, Latreille, 1802
Subfamily: Sphinginae, Latreille, [1802]
Tribe: Sphingini, Latreille, 1802
Genus: Manduca Hubner, [1807] ...........
Species: rustica rustica (Fabricius, 1775)


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The Rustic Sphinx, Manduca rustica rustica (Wing span: 3 7/16 - 5 15/16 inches (8.7 - 15 cm)), flies in warm temperate, subtropical, and tropical forests and second growth woodlands from Virginia to south Florida, west to Arkansas, Texas, southern New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California and Puerto Rico and Cuba, and then further south through Central America to Brazil: Paraiba (AvB), Mato Grosso (JvB), Para, Roraima; Bolivia and Uruguay.

There are valid reports from the provinces of Argentina: Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Corrientes, Chaco, Entre Rios, Formosa, Jujuy, Misiones, Salta, Santiago del Estero, Tucuman.

Visit Manduca rustica, Cordoba, Argentina, courtesy of Dr. Carlos Marzano.

Visit Manduca rustica, Osununu Private Reserve, Misiones, Argentina, October 14, 2009, courtesy of Ezequiel Bustos.

Visit Manduca rustica larva on privet, pupa, adult, Dos de Mayo, Misiones, Argentina, April 4 (adult), 2011, courtesy of Reinhard Foerster.

Leticia Noli Stoner sends this image, February 5, 2011, from Mendoza, Argentina. If the id is correct, this sighting represents a slight southwesterly extension of its known range in Argentina.

Manduca rustica fifth instar, Mendoza, Argentina,
February 5, 2011, Leticia Noli Stoner

This species occasionally strays to Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. I never saw one in New Jersey.

In Central America it has been reported in the following locations:
Mexico: Quintana Roo; probably throughout Mexico;
Belize: Corozol, Cayo, Stann Creek, Toledo;
Nicaragua: Chinandega, Leon, Managua, Masaya, Granada, Rivas, Chontales, Zelaya, Rio San Juan;
Guatemala: Izabal (JM)
Costa Rica: Guanacaste, Puntarenas, Alajuela, San Jose, Lemon, Heredia;
Panama. It is also confirmed in French Guiana: Kaw, and it probably flies throughout most, if not all of South America.

The abdomen of the adult moth has three pairs of yellow spots. The upperside of the forewing is yellowish brown to deep chocolate brown with a dusting of white scales and zigzagged black and white lines.

Manduca rustica female, courtesy of Hubert Mayer.


Manduca rustica rustica adults fly as several broods from May-October in Louisiana. There are two broods from July-November in the rest of the northern range. In Costa Rica moths have been seen every month of the year with the biggest flight in May June.

In Bolivia January-February-March-April, June, October and December with both males and females coming to lights. Johan van't Bosch reports a September flight in Mato Grosso, Brazil.

Manduca rustica, on moonflower, San Antonio, Texas,
November 12, 2003, courtesy of Jay Chapman.

Visit Manduca rustica, south Austin, August 2, 2012, Jackson MacLean


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

Manduca rustica rustica female courtesy of Dan Janzen.


Females call in the males with a pheromone released from a gland at the tip of the abdomen. Adults begin feeding from deep-throated flowers including moonflower (Calonyction aculeatum) and petunia (Petunia species) late at night, around 10 P.M.


Larvae feed on fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) and jasmine (Jasminum species) in the olive family (Oleaceae), and on bushy matgrass (Lippia alba) and Aloysia wrightii in the vervain family (Verbenaceae), and on knockaway (Ehretia anacua) in the borage family (Boraginaceae), and on Bignonia species like Desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) in the Bignoniaceae family.

"Manduca rustica, Tucson, Arizona, November, on desert willow, David Bygott

Larvae have also been reported on Tecoma stans, Callicarpa americana, Fraxinus, Helianthus annuus, Heliotropium, Lagerstroemia indica, Lantana camara, Ligustrum japonicum, Ligustrum ovalifolium, Plumeria acuminata, Plumeria alba, Ligustrum vulgare, Sesamum indicum, Syringa vulgaris, Trichostema dichotomum, Annona squamosa, Gossypium herbaceum and Himatanthus sucuuba.

I recently received a report and images of a larva feeding on basil in Palm Beach County, Florida, September 4, 2010.

Manduca rustica fifth instar on basil, Palm Beach County, Florida,
September 5, 2010, courtesy of Jenny Yates.

Jenny Yates writes, "There is another basil plant about 8 feet away and it has been stripped pretty much bare. We have mulch and a plethora of lizards, and I didn't notice/see any caterpillar droppings. Also nearby are two rosemary plants, a parsley plant, and formerly some lettuce (I think the lettuce were done for before the caterpillar would have entered the scene). Additionally, there is a hedge row of some plant I don't know and some palm trees. The basil is the only one that seems to have damage."

I was surprised when Jenny indicated the Manduca rustica larva depicted above was found feeding on basil and I asked Jenny to check to see if much foliage had been consumed. I will now add basil to the Manduca rustica species file as a foodplant for that species.

Andy Warren writes, "Aloysia virgata (Sweet Almond Bush, Incense Bush of Verbenaceae family) is a popular nectar plant in butterfly gardens in Florida.
(I think it is originally a South American plant). Anyway, I just found a last instar larva of Manduca rustica on one of my A. virgata plants, after the sucker defoliated a couple of branches!"

Visit Manduca rustica fifth instar on Callicarpa?, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico, March 4, 2012, courtesy of Ben Trott.

Visit Manduca rustica, Dog Canyon, Otero County, New Mexico, on Desert Willow, (Chilopsis linearis), August 24, 2009, Bob Barber.

Visit Manduca rustica fifth instar, Chandler, Maricopa County, Arizona, October 8, 2009, courtesy of T. J. Robb.

Visit Manduca rustica larvae on golden dewdrop (Duranta erecta), Cape Coral, October 9, 2010, Elizabeth Gillen.

Visit Manduca rustica, Tucson, Pima County, Arizona, August 25, 2011, feeding on Tecoma Orange Jubilee Trumpet and Cape Honeysuckle bushes, about 2500' above sea level, Sue Fehlman.

Manduca rustica fifth instar on Desert Willow, Tucson, Pima County, Arizona, September 17, 2011, 100mm, Karen Riggs.

The caterpillar has numerous white nodules on top of the thorax and seven pairs of oblique, blue-gray stripes along the side of the body. The horn is white at the base and blue-gray at the tip. Host plants also include Crossvine, bignonias, and various members of the forget-me-not and vervain families. Alice Gilliland reports one feeding on gardenia in Chapel Hill, Orange County, North Carolina.

Larvae pupate on their backs in subterranean chambers.

Larvae and pupa images courtesy of Bruce Walsh.

Heavily parasitized Manduca rustica, Florida,
courtesy of Leroy Simon.

Occasionally an almost black form of the larva is encountered.

Manduca rustica, dark (unusual) fifth instar, Patagonia, Santa Cruz Co., Arizona,
on buddleia bush, September 20, 2008, courtesy of Philip Kline.

I received another report of a black larva from Gary Vernon in Midlothian, Texas. Gary reports that it was also feeding on butterfly plant. Perhaps there is a correlation between host plant and likelihood of the appearance of the dark form.

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