Paratrea plebeja
Plebeian sphinx

Paratrea plebeja courtesy of Paul Opler.

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: Paratrea Grote, 1903 ...........
Species: plebeja Fabricius, 1777


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The Plebeian Sphinx, Paratrea plebeja (Wing span: 2 3/8 - 3 inches (6 - 7.5 cm)), flies from Connecticut south to Florida; west to Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The moth is also taken in Veracruz, Mexico.

Paratrea plebeja Patrick Coin, used with permission,
Durham County, North Carolina, May 28, 2004

The upperside of the forewing is gray with indistinct black and white markings. There is a series of black dashes from the base to the tip, and a small white cell spot. The upperside of the hindwing is dark gray with an obscure dark median band.

Paratrea plebeja, Gloucester County, New Jersey, courtesy of Jesse Donavan.


Paratrea plebeja adults fly as a single brood in the northern portions of their range from May-July. In southerly locales there are at least two broods from March-November.


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. Adults nectar at deep throated flowers including honeysuckle, bouncing bet, and verbena.


Larvae feed at night, hiding on the underside of stems during the day. Preferred hosts are common trumpetcreeper (Campsis radicans), Florida yellow-trumpet (Tecoma stans), lilac (Syringa species), and passionflower (Passiflora species).

Larval image courtesy of Doug Malone.

Paratrea plebeja eastern Kansas, courtesy of Antonia Felix,
id by Bill Oehlke, confirmed by James P. Tuttle.

Fully-grown caterpillars pupate in chambers in soft soil.

Paratrea plebeja courtesy/copyright David Wagner.

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