Proserpinus gaurae

Proserpinus gaurae courtesy of Vernon A. Brou

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Family: Sphingidae, Latreille, 1802
Subfamily: Macroglossinae, Harris, 1839
Tribe: Macroglossini, Harris, 1839
Genus: Proserpinus Hubner, [1819] ...........
Species: gaurae J. E. Smith, 1797


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The rare and possibly endangered Proud sphinx, Proserpinus gaurae (Wing span: 1 3/4 - 1 7/8 inches (4.5 - 4.8 cm)), flies from Texas and Louisiana east to northern Florida, north to Alabama, Missouri, northern Georgia, and South Carolina. It may or may not range as far south as northern Mexico.

The abdomen may have a pale band running across the rear. The wings are brown. The forewing sometimes has a greenish tint and may have the median area darker. The lines bordering the median area are curved. The hindwing has a reddish brown border.


Proserpinus gaurae adults probably fly as one or two flights, from April-August. Adults fly during the afternoon, nectaring from flowers.


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


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


Eggs hatch about 10 days after the female deposits them on the host plant, and the newly-hatched caterpillars eat their eggshells. Larvae feed on evening primrose (Oenothera), Gaura, and willow weed (Epilobium), all in the evening primrose family (Onagraceae).

Proserpinus guarae fifth instar, St. Francois County, Missouri,
courtesy of James A. Tuttle.

Mature larvae pupate and overwinter in shallow underground burrows.

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