Life History and Reproduction

What is the life history and reproduction stages of the Clark's Sphix moth?
Life history is the stages of life and the different steps that are undergone by an organism in its lifetime. Life history is not only about the different stages, but the general idea of
natural selection and having the most possible offspring survive.
An ovum is refered to as a female sex cell or gamete. The ovum of the Proserpinus clarkiae is transparent, round, and has a lime-green color to it. The size of these eggs are EXTREMELY small. About a day before the ovum develops into a larva, the ovum turns a yellowish color with a slight resemblance of green (Buttererflies and Moths of North America 2014). An ovum egg will hatch about ten days after it has been laid on its host. As the caterpillars hatch, they eat the eggshells around them.

When the moth finishes the ova stage, it then develops into a larva. The color of the body is a yellowish-green color now and instead of an anal horn; a pair of scoli takes over this portion. The anal shield is unique because it is unlike any other colors present in this organism. It goes from dark green to a pinkish color (Osborne 1995).
Instead of larva, this organism can be referred to as a "hornroom" during this particular stage. The posterior end of the body has a narrow tail that is almost hook-like that bends upwards (Zipcode  Zoo 2013). Boisduval (1852) had thought that Proserpinus clarkiae nourished on Onagraceae because of the Old World Proserpinus proserpina (Pallas), mainly because this was well-known during this man's time. "We have given to this species the name of clarkiae by analogy, for we believe we can assure in advance that is nourishes itself of a plant of the Oenotherae family" (Boisduval 1852).
Note that there are five instar stages between the larva and the pupa. To find out more about these instar stages visit this
multiple-author primary research article!
The pupa stage could be commonly known as the "cocoon" aspect of this organism. At this point, the pupa is twenty to twenty-six millimeters in length and has a dark and light mixed brown color (Osborne 1995). The outside of the pupa is smooth to the touch and the abdominal side of the pupa has a larger indent. The pupa is extremely cool because if the outside cocoon is touched, the inside organism tends to occasionally move.
As an adult, the moth has grown bigger in size and is characterized as a medium sized moth. The body of the Clark's Sphinx is narrow and comes to a point near its end. At this stage, the moth has developed wings! The wings are what helps this moth to fly and the wings have a narrower shape to them. It also has hind wings that are present that tend to be irregular shaped and relatively smaller than the forewings. This moth has no
tympanal organ, which is referred to as the hearing organ. This is extremely unique because most organisms usually have this organ present. The antennae are generally bigger in diameter towards the head. The further away from the the head the antennae go, the narrower they get. The color of the moth at this stage tends to be a greenish-gray color with bright orange hind wings and sometimes the hind wings have a slight touch of yellow. The hind wings also have black borders around them (Butterflies and Moths of North America 2014).
To find out more information about these stages and how they progress over time, check out this website! You will see images of the Clark's Sphinx progressing in its different stages of life!

How does a Clark's Sphinx attract a mate?
Usually, one would attract a mate by appearance, but not for the moths! They attract their mates by sense of smell if you can believe that! This form of mating is not specifically for the Clark's Sphinx Moth, but for the generalized group of moths. Due to some of the dull colors that some moths have, mating tends to occur at later periods of the night. The female moth is the one that tries to attract the male. This is done by the production of
pheromones, which is a chemical substance that tends to change the behavior of the same species (or in this case, the opposite sex). The male will detect this scent with his antennae and then he has a mate!
How does this organism reproduce?
A female moth can mate with multiple moths before deciding to lay her eggs. When mating, the moths link at the abdomen, and the male will use his "claspers" which are located on their posterior end, in order to keep in contact with the female. If a predator were to interrupt, these "claspers" make it so that mating can continue while moving to a safer location. The male moth emits what is known as
spermatophore through his penis that carries sperm and nutrients to the soon to be developed larvae (Evelyn 2008). What humans refer to as the uterus, a female moth has a burse copulartrix, which is where the males contribution is stored (Evelyn 2008). The eggs need to be fertilized before release and then are placed on a host plant near a food source. How awesome is that!?

Im sure you are wondering how the Proserpinus clarkiae interacts with other moths and other organisms around them. Continue onto the interactions page to find out more information! Return to home page.