Butterflies and Moths

Danaus species caterpillars of either Queen – Danaus gilippus, or Soldier – Danaus eresimus, butterflies feeding on one of their larval food plants – Red Top – Asclepias curassavica. Photo: Ann Stafford, Dec. 24, 2006

Click here for photos of Cayman Islands butterflies, moths and their plants  Butterflies, Moths and their Plants

Monarch caterpillars Danaus plexippus on one of their larval food plants, Red Top – Asclepias curassavica Family: ASCLEPIADACEAE.
Ann Stafford, Grand Cayman, Dec. 29, 2006

Monarch butterfly – Danaus plexippus, just emerged from pupa. Photo: Jennifer Godfrey, Grand Cayman, June 20, 2007

Monarch, Queen, Soldier butterflies, their caterpillars and pupae compared, DANAIDAE – Milkweed Family of butterflies feed on Milkweed Family of plants. P. Ann van B. Stafford, 2006.

Monarch and Queen caterpillars and Queen butterfly
Ann Stafford, Grand Cayman, Aug.19, 2005

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Cayman Brown Leaf butterfly – Memphis verticordia danielana – its life cycle and its larval food plant Endangered Wild Cinnamon – Croton nitens.   

Click here for photos of the larval food plant of one of Cayman’s 5 endemic butterflies:

Wild Cinnamon – Croton nitens

Fig Sphinx moth – Pachylia ficus

Fig Sphinx moth – Pachylia ficus, Grand Cayman. Photo: Ann Stafford, Jan. 28, 2005

Fig Sphinx moth – Pachylia ficus, Sphinx/Hawk Moth family: SPHINGIDAE. The larval food plant in Cayman is the fast-growing Wild Fig – Ficus aurea, one of Cayman’s largest trees, Family: MORACEAE and probably other Ficus species. The adult moths feed on nectar from flowers around sunset. It is seen here visiting the trumpet-shaped flowers of the ubiquitous shrub Tecoma stans – Cayman common names Shamrock, Cow-stick or Hemlock (Cayman Brac). It is called Yellow Elder in the US, (Family: BIGNONIACAEAE). Photo: Ann Stafford, Jan. 28, 2005.

Click here for photos and information about all stages – egg, larva, pupa and adult  Fig Sphinx moth – Pachylia ficus

Visit Ann Stafford’s Gallery for more photos:

Butterflies and Moths – Cayman Islands

Tetrio Sphinx Moth – Pseudosphinx tetrio

Tetrio Sphinx Moth – Pseudosphinx tetrio Linnaeus, 1771
Family: Sphingidae, Subfamily: Macroglossinae, Tribe: Dilophonotini
This moth has a wingspan: 5 – 5.5 inches (12.7 – 14 cm), the females larger than the males.

 

Pseudosphinx tetrio l. Feb4_02 AS

Tetrio Sphinx moth / Giant Grey Sphinx moth caterpillar on Plumeria obtusa – Jasmine, Feb. 4, 2002

Jasmine (Wild Frangipani) – Plumeria obtusa L. Family: APOCYNACEAE is one of the larval food plants. (Other shrubs and creepers are also called “Jasmine in Cayman.)
Leaves: ALTERNATE, crowded
Flowers: white with yellow eye
Tree exudes an abundant toxic, white latex when cut, which does not harm the caterpillars when they eat the leaves. The brightly coloured black, yellow and red caterpillars warn would-be predators, such as birds, of the toxins.

Pseudosphinx tetrio l. May8-14_ia ASTetrio Sphinx moth caterpillars feed on new leaves of Plumeria obtusa – Jasmine, May 8, 2014

Pseudosphinx tetrio l. May10-14_ia ASTetrio Sphinx moth caterpillars on Plumeria obtusa – Jasmine, May 10, 2014

Pseudosphinx tetrio l. May10-14_ib ASMay 10, 2014 The caterpillars can grow up to 6 inches (15.2 cm) long.

Pseudosphinx tetrio l. May11-14_003 ASMay 11, 2014

Pseudosphinx tetrio l. May11-14_007 ASMay 11, 2014
the last time the caterpillars were seen.

LINKS:

13. HAWKMOTHS (LEP., SPHINGIDAE) OF LITTLE CAYMAN R.R. Askew

Hawksmoths or Sphinx moths

Little Cayman, for an island so small, supports a surprisingly rich hawkmoth fauna. Jordan (1940) records nineteen species found by the 1938 Oxford University Expedition to the Cayman Islands, five of which were taken on Little Cayman. In 1975 eleven species were captured on Little Cayman between 10th. and 30th. July, the majority being caught in a mercury vapour light trap operated at Pirate’s Point (P) and on the evening of 28th. July, in the central forest south of Sparrowhawk Hill (F).

Atoll Research Bulletin No. 241: 139-140, March 1980.

Tetrio Sphinx Moth – Pseudosphinx tetrio life cycle

Tetrio Sphinx, Giant Gray Sphinx, Frangipani Hornworm, Pseudosphinx tetrio (Linnaeus)

University of Florida IFAS Extension

Jasmine (Wild Frangipani) – Plumeria obtusa, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and the Swan Islands.
FLORA of the CAYMAN ISLANDS by George R. Proctor 2012 p.517, Plate 49.

Flora of the Cayman Islands 2012, Kew Books

Click here for more    CaymANNature FLORA photos

 Grand Cayman Guided Nature Tours

BugGuide

North American Moth Photographers Group Mississippi Entomological Museum

SPHINGIDAE identification

North American Moth Photographers Group Mississippi Entomological Museum

The adult Tetrio Sphinx Moth has a wingspan of  5 – 5.5 inches (12.7 – 14 cm), the females larger than the males.

Pseudosphinx tetrioTetrio Sphinx moth    Photo: Paul Opler

 

Atala Hairstreak - Eumaeus atala, nectaring on Poison Tree - Metopium toxiferum. Photo: Stuart Mailer, Little Cayman, April 2, 2012

Atala Hairstreak butterfly – Eumaeus atala, nectaring on Poison Tree – Metopium toxiferum. Photo: Stuart Mailer, Little Cayman, April 2, 2012

Two butterflies and a day-flying moth – black with iridescent blue and a blue day-flying moth with white spots and a red-tipped abdomen

Atala Hairstreak butterfly – Eumaeus atala, Family: LYCAENIDAE, nectaring on Poison Tree – Metopium toxiferum, ANACARDIACEAE. Photo: Stuart Mailer, Little Cayman, April 2, 2012
New Record for Little Cayman, Stuart Mailer and Christine Rose-Smyth, April 2, 2012.

The Atala Hairstreak flies on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, but has not been recorded on Grand Cayman, although its larval food plant Bulrush/Zamia – Zamia integrifolia grows on all three islands. Tha Atala hairstreak has a red-orange abdomen.

The Mangrove Skipper butterfly flies on Little Cayman, but not Grand Cayman or Cayman Brac, although Red Mangrove, its larval food plant, grows on all three islands.

The Polka Dot Wasp moth has a blue abdomen with a red-orange tip. The distinctive bright orange caterpillars with tufts of long black hairs are a garden pest that can defoliate and even kill Oleander.

Polka Dot Wasp moth, day-flying - Syntomeida epilais on Oleander May17, 2003

Polka Dot Wasp moth, day-flying – Syntomeida epilais on Oleander – Nerium oleander, Family: APOCYNACEAE. Photo: Ann Stafford, Grand Cayman, May17, 2003

Mangrove Skipper butterfly – Phocides pigmalion, Family: HESPERIIDAE nectaring on Sea Lavender – Argusia gnaphalodes, Family: BORAGINACEAE. Photo: R.R. Askew, Little Cayman, Jan. 23, 2008

Faithful Beauty – Composia fidelissima Family: ARCTIIDAE nectaring on Thorn Prickle – Casearia aculeata Family: SALICACEAE.  Photo: Ann Stafford, Grand Cayman, Nov.16, 2012.

Faithful Beauty, day-flying moth – Composia fidelissima, Family: ARCTIIDAE nectaring on Thorn Prickle – Casearia aculeata, Family: SALICACEAE. Photo: Ann Stafford, Grand Cayman, Nov.16, 2012.

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