Home / Hawk Moths (Sphingidae) / Blackburn’s Sphinx Moth (Manduca blackburni)

Blackburn’s Sphinx Moth (Manduca blackburni)

The Blackburn’s hawk moth is a hawk moth found exclusively in Hawaii. This moth was once spread out all over Hawaii but now is just limited to three islands, namely the Big Island, Kahoolawe, and Maui.

It became the first Hawaiian moth to receive an endangered status in 2000 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Sphingidae
  • Genus: Manduca
  • Scientific Name: Manduca blackburni

Blackburn’s Sphinx Moth


Description and Identification


Caterpillars have two color morphs; gray, and bright green. Both the variants have white speckles scattered over their backs and white stripes horizontally running on the side margin of every segment.

Blackburn’s Sphinx Moth Caterpillar



Once they mature, the larvae begin pupation that happens underground. Upon maturation as an adult moth, it comes up to the surface,

Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present but not prominent.

Color and Appearance

Their bodies are thick, spindle-shaped, tapering at both the ends. They even have ten orange spots on their abdomen, five on each side.

When the wings are opened, they are grayish-brown with black bands across the edges of the hindwings. When the wings are closed, the patterns and colors remain unchanged, though the black bands are barely visible.

Average wingspan: 12 cm

Flight pattern: Erratic

Season: Year-round

Manduca blackburni



Eggs are laid on the outer leaves of the host plant.

Blackburn’s Sphinx Moth Eggs


Quick Facts

Other namesHawaiian tomato hornworm, Hawaiian tobacco hornworm
DistributionHawaii, mainly the Big Island, Kahoʻolawe, and Maui.
HabitatCoastal, dry, and lowland forests
Lifespan of Adults10-30 days
Host PlantsPrimarily nightshade; also eggplant, jimson weed, tobacco, tomato, and tree tobacco.
Adult DietNectar from plants like koali ʻawa and maiapilo

Did You Know

  • It shares a close physical resemblance and relation to the tomato hornworm.
  • English entomologist Arthur Gardiner Butler first described this species in 1880.
Blackburn’s Sphinx Moth Image


Hawaiian Tomato Hornworm


Blackburn’s Sphinx Moth Picture


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