Sphingidae - WikiVisually

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Colibrí Suites

Sphingidae are a family of glossy lepidoptera of the Ditrysia clade, with a robust body and generally rapid flight; most of them have narrow and pointed anterior wings, although some have wider wings, scalloped and fly more slowly. The wings usually remain flat and directed backwards, like arrows, during the rest.

Most sphinxes have a very long proboscis and feed on nectar while they remain in flight in front of the flower, so similar to a hummingbird, but some lack proboscis and do not ingest food during the adult or imago stage. Like hummingbirds are good pollinators. Flowers adapted to this type of pollination are usually tubular, pale or white, and open at night. This set of characters is a floral syndrome called sphingophilia.

There are about 1,450 species described in approximately 200 genera.

Life Cycle

Most of the species have several generations per year if the weather permits, are multivolins.

Females deposit greenish, translucent, smooth eggs. Usually they are eggs isolated in the nutritious plant. The period of development of the egg varies a lot, between 3 and 21 days.

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When the larva is at rest, it usually raises the anterior part of the body and sinks the head; hence the name sphinx. Some tropical larvae seem to mimic snakes. The larvae often vomit sticky substances and even toxic as a defense when they are in danger. The rate of development depends on temperature and some species at high latitudes require sunbathing to speed up the process.

In some sphincters the pupal proboscis is free instead of being fused with the rest of the pupa as in most Lepidoptera. Generally they pass the pupal state away from the food plant, either under the ground, in cracks of rocks or in a cocoon. In most species the pupa is the stage that passes the winter.

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