1. Commonly known as hawk moths, sphinx moths and hornworms.
2. The Sphingidae is a family of some 1400 species of small to very large moths occurring on all continents except Antarctica. But It is best represented in the tropics (Scoble, 1995).
3. Wingspan ranging from 35-150 millimetres across.
4. Adults are characterized by narrow wings and streamlined abdomen that are clearly adaptations for rapid flight. Some of the sphingids are some of the fastest flying insects, capable of flying at over 50 km/h.
5. Most adults feed on nectar, although a few tropical species feed on eye secretions and the Death's-head Hawkmoth steals honey from bees (Pittaway, 1993). Night-flying sphingids tend to prefer pale flowers with long corolla tube (deep flowers) and a sweet odour, employing an unusually long proboscis. The proboscis of certain Sphingidae species can measure a full 30 cm long. Some Sphingids resemble bees or hummingbirds, and can move sideways and stop in midair ('swing-hovering').
6. The thorax, abdomen, and wings are densely covered in scales. Antennae are generally not very feathery, even in the males (Scoble, 1995).
Pittaway, A. R. (1993): The hawkmoths of the western Palaearctic. Harley Books & Natural History Museum, London.
Scoble, Malcolm J. (1995): The Lepidoptera: Form, Function and Diversity (2nd edition). Oxford University Press & Natural History Museum London.
Family Sphingidae in Sri Lanka
Following five subfamilies have been recoded from Sri Lanka (species of Family Sphingidae in Sri Lanka are under revision and cannot give exact number so far).