Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blackburn’s Sphinx Moth

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Blackburn’s sphinx moth (Manduca blackburni) is Hawaii’s largest native insect, with a wing span of up to 5 inches (12 centimeters).  

The large caterpillars occur in two colors, bright green or gray with scattered white speckles throughout the back and a horizontal white stripe on the side margin of each segment.

The Blackburn's sphinx moth is listed on the federal endangered species list and is one of the few animal species with designated critical habitat in Hawaii--approximately 55,451 acres on the islands of Hawaii, Kahoolawe, Maui, and Molokai.

The natural host plants are native trees within the genus Nothocestrum (aiea); however, as native plants become threatened, the moth has found an appetite for certain invasive species including the tobacco plant commonly found as a weed on undeveloped parcels of land.

If you see one of these plants, you'll need to be sure
there aren't any feasting Blackburn’s sphinx moths. 
If plants are discovered, consultation with a biologist and the US Fish and Wildlife Service may be required to avoid harming or taking the moth and comply with the Endangered Species Act.

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