Tersa and hostplants

Wed Sep 17 15:02:56 EDT 1997

> I caught a Tersa sphinx(Xylophanes tersa) at the light last night. Is
> anyone familiar with their host plants? Covells book states Manettia
> species, smooth buttonplant and starclusters. I have not been able to find

Manettia, Rubiaceae, cerca 80 tropical American Lianas and
twining herbs, some cultivated ornamentals especially M. cordifolia
(Bolivia to Argentina and Peru) ipecahuanha adulterant with bright red
flowers & M. luteorubra (M. inflata, Paraguay & Uruguay); flowers yellow
tipped. In Peru leaves of some species chewed, blackening (and
preserving?) the teeth, also febrifugal.

Pentas, 34 spp. Africa to Arabia & Madagascar. Shrubs and herbs, some
cultivated ornamentals esp. P. lanceolata.

Since tersa has such a large range I would assume Covell's records
originate from Latin America or someone's flower garden in North America.

Sphingids can be very difficult to induce to oviposit --especially strong,
fast flyers like tersa.  To find if the insect is a male, palpate the end
of the abdomen gently with your fingers, you may feel the hardened genital
capsule at the end of the abdomen (male) or the abdomen will be soft to
the tip (female).  However, some genera are still difficult to separate
sexes unless you have both sexes available and have had practice before--
the "feel" of the abdomen of different sexes can be subtle. I'm not sure
if Xylophanes has obvious claspers in the living males or not, I think

If you have a female, the best way would be to have a decent-sized flight
cage setting in a quiet area of the yard away from cats and electric
lights with nectar sources (she will need to feed every day) and plenty of
good foodplant.  Try rubiaceae native to your area--maybe Cephalanthus
(buttonwillow), Galium (probably wrong subgenus) or others, have you got
Gardenia available?  I would try Bouvardia here in Arizona, because X.
falco larvae feed on this bush. Consult your local floras. 


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