Species: Fabulous green sphinx moth (Tinostoma smaragditis)
Status: Endangered (EN)
Interesting Fact: This beautiful Hawaiian moth was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1998.
More information: Aptly named for its vibrant green colouration, the fabulous green sphinx moth is a rare species found only on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i. Although its forewings and body are green, its hind wings are pale brown and its antennae are orange. The caterpillars of the fabulous green sphinx moth have a large, spine-like ‘horn’ on the rear end of the body, which can measure around half of their body length. The host plant on which the caterpillars of this species feed is not yet known.
The fabulous green sphinx moth has an extremely restricted range, being found only in a few areas of forest on Kaua’i. In 110 years of searching, this rare moth was recorded just 15 times. The island of Kaua’i has a high diversity of threatened plants, but these native species are under threat from destruction by feral goats and pigs, as well as by invasive, non-native plants, which have increased as a result of damage to the native forests by hurricanes. Although the food plant of the fabulous green sphinx moth is unknown, it is likely that it, too, is under threat. Unfortunately, its rarity means that the fabulous green sphinx moth is potentially valuable to unscrupulous collectors. No conservation measures are currently in place to protect this rare moth, and attempts to list it on the U.S. Endangered Species Act have so far failed due to a lack of information.
Find out more about conservation in Hawaii at the Hawai’i Wildlife Fund.
Find out more about Moth Night, an annual celebration of moths and moth recording in Britain and Ireland, which will be taking place on the 8th-10th August.
Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author