Proserpinus terlooii

Proserpinus terlooii courtesy of Bruce Walsh

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


Family: Sphingidae, Latreille, 1802
Subfamily: Macroglossinae, Harris, 1839
Tribe: Macroglossini, Harris, 1839
Macroglossina, Harris, 1839
Genus: Proserpinus Hubner, [1819] ...........
Species: terlooii H. Edwards, 1875


The Terloo sphinx, Proserpinus terlooii (Wing span: 1 5/8 - 1 7/8 inches (4.2 - 4.8 cm)), flies in southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.

Mike Van Buskirk, San Antonio, Texas writes, "Many believed this species to be rare, but larvae can (often) be found commonly in late August and early September, particularly around classic collecting areas like Pena Blanca Lake in Santa Cruz County in SE Arizona. My personal belief is this species isn't particular attracted to lights, and may only fly in the early evening.

"In all the years I have collected P. terlooii, I have never seen P. terlooii flying during the day. In my experience they are night-fliers, and do come to lights. I collected my first adult at light in 1971, at a gas station in Nogales, Arizona."

The upperside of the forewing is uniform olive green with a darker median band. The upperside of the hindwing is red with an olive green border.


Proserpinus terlooii adults fly as a single brood in July and August. Adults fly during the very late afternoon or evening, 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.

Mike Van Buskirk writes, "The larval hostplants are documented as Boerhaavia species (at least two--B. coccinea and coulteri have produced larvae). Boerhaavia is in the plant family Nyctaginaceae. Larvae, to the best of my knowledge, and I have collected in SE Arizona for more than 30 years, has never been found on any Onagraceous plant.

Proserpinus terlooii larva on Boerhaavia,
September 15, 2006, Pena Blanca, Arizona, courtesy of David Wikle.

"Understand that most members of this genus use that family, but emphatically not this species. I have found P. terlooii larvae on Boerhaavia hostplants in 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2000.

"The larvae are well pictured in the website, Moths of SE Arizona, maintained by Bruce Walsh at the University of Arizona.

"The larvae tend to be nocturnal, or at least hidden during the brightest time of the day. I have found them readily with a flashlight at night, and during cloudy and rainy weather. I have found larvae hiding under debris near the hostplant during the day, but hardly ever up feeding until later afternoon or evening.

Image courtesy of Bruce Walsh.

"There are (at least) three color morphs for the larvae--very pale green, slightly darker green, and a mottled brown and gray pattern which renders them almost invisible on the ground.

Image courtesy of Bruce Walsh.

"Pupae are (sometimes) difficult to get to emerge--they seem to require a sudden burst of heat and humidity for the adults to eclose properly."

Bruce Walsh also reports the larvae as being not uncommon, but indicates he has had success finding them during the day.

Mature larvae pupate and overwinter in shallow underground burrows.

Proserpinus terlooii fifth instar, Sonora, Mexico,
July 2014, courtesy of Jean Haxaire.

Proserpinus terlooii pupa, Sonora, Mexico,
courtesy of Jean Haxaire.

Matt Curtis shares the following observation, "I believe that the last time I wrote you I was concerned how to deal with pupation with P. terlooi relative to soil vs soil-less (paper/tissue). Iā€™d never had problems with any saturnid species or the odd sphingid I reared in soilless efforts, so tried it with the terlooi. I ended up with only about 10 to 15% success, so switched to using a plastic tote with 3/4- 1ā€ of sand covered with about 7-8 ā€œ garden soil. I had almost 95% success with that. This year I found larvae again but in smaller numbers and used the soil plan again and again had 95% success if I caught the maturing larvae leaving the food plant and beginning to wander. Interesting."

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