Like all animals inhabiting Earth, the Clark's Sphinx Moth is a heterotrophic organism. Heterotrophs have to use other organisms or hosts to acquire appropriate nutrients for themselves in order to survive. They are not autotrophic, like plants, which would mean they could produce their own energy and do not require other organisms (Campbell and Reece 2008). All animals ingest and then digest their food. Animals, in general, all have similar ways of operating and maintaining their nutrient but each species do it in their own unique way.

Common knowledge of every moth is that it is a catepillar before it grows into an adult. As catepillars, Sphinx Moths, in general, obtain their nutrients from little berries like grape leaves and Virginia Creeper plants (McDaniel 2010). Go to this website for more information on Virginia Creeper plants. Like any organism that can do metamorphosis, not only are their distinct changes in its physical appearance, function, and habitat, but also in its eating habits. Once the larva develops into a moth, it is intrinsically attracted to the nectar of blooming flowers. Along with flowers, Sphinx Moth's diet also includes sap from trees, bird droppings, animal waste, and fruits that are rotting (New Hampshire Public Television). The Sphinx Moth has a long, hollow tongue called the proboscis that is constructively used in the uptake of nutrients into their bodies. The proboscis is extremely important for moths and butterflies because it acts as their specialized feeding organ. Depending on the species of the organism and the function, the proboscis length varies. To see proboscis morphology and its association to different feeding habits, click here. The proboscis rolls up near the moth's body when it is not being used (U.S. Geological Survey 2012). The moth then breaks down the nectar and uses those nutrients for physical energy, growth, and reproduction.
The Sphinx Moth can easily be mistaken for different species of hummingbirds because of two similarities within the two organisms. They both have extremely rapid wing speed while in flight (McDaniel 2010), and like hummingbirds, these moths hover over their flower food source while feeding on it during stationary flight. Stationary flight is when the organism is flying in place while extracting nectar (Gill 1985). When the Clark's Sphinx Moth needs to refuel, it searches for the perfect food source, typically a flower, by flying over it and innately using proboscis movements again to obtain the nourishing nectar (Goyret and Kelber 2011). They prefer to eat nectar from flourishing flowers that will give them an abundance of nutrients. These flowers they prefer are in the phylum of land plants called Anthophyta because they have the ability to develop flowers and fruits (Campell and Reece 2008). Flowers that are trumpet-shaped are prime for Sphinx Moths because they have a wider opening near the petals of the flower, allowing easier access for the proboscis to get down the pollen tube to obtain the nectar.

Go to the life history and reproduction page to learn more about this interesting Clark's Sphinx Moth.
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