occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) In the USA, widespread in the Southeast north into southern Virginia, southern Missouri, and west to eastern Texas, then northwest along the US border from southern Texas into southern California, including a substantial portion of southern Arizona, then south into Uruguay. Strays uncommonly northeastward, but probably not resident even on the coast north of about Richmond, although larvae have been found at least once in Delaware and long ago apparently in New Jersey.
Comments: Poorly documented eastern populations appear to use primarily forests, but the main habitat association would be based on the larval foodplants, which are really not clear but may include most Oleaceae. The overall distribution eastward, where it extends well into regions with cold winters, matches that of Chionanthus rather closely. In the Southwest, the species breeds mostly in riparian habitats and in urban areas with artificially watered ornamental Bignoniaceae, and usually not more than a few hundred kilometers from the Mexican border. Farther south a variety of tropical forests are among the habitats.
Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Apparently not really migratory, at least not in North America, but individuals can stray hundreds of kilometers out of habitat.
Comments: Larvae of this species over its vast range feed on a diverse array of plants from multiple families, e.g. in Costa Rica. In the southwestern USA, the species has been well-studied and the primary foodplants appear to be species of Bignoniaceae, including two common natives, Chilopsis linearis (desert willow) and Tecoma stans, and the introduced Tecomeria capensis, also Bignonia (Wagner, 2005), as well a a few Verbenaceae such as Lantana, Callicarpa americana, Aloysia species (Tuttle, 2007). A few Boraginaceae, such as Ehretia anancua in Texas, are also used.
The foodplants in the southeastern USA do not appear to be well documented. Fringe tree (Chionanthus) is probably the most often repeated and fits the eastern range of the moth as mapped by Tuttle (2007) rather closely. Tuttle states that "hollies", which have not been previously reported, are used, but does not give any actual species and some, e.g. Ilex opaca, seem unlikely. Otherwise southeastern records are for Oleaceae. Besides Chionanthus, ashes have been repeated in the literature over the past 100-200 years. Robinson et al. (2002) trace records for lilac and privet back to John Abbott in the late 1700s, and jasmine is credited to Holland (1903). While all of these are plausible, some Abbott records for Sphingidae (e.g. for Sphinx kalmiae) were incorrect. Robinson et al. (2002) do give one modern confirmation of privet (Ligustrum vulgare), but the locality is unclear. Curiously none of these authors report the common eastern trumpet vine (Campsis radicans), which is related to and fairly similar to Tecoma stans, a foodplant. This moth is likely to be a pollinator of several deep tubular desert flowers, along with other species of Manduca, other hawk moths, and hummingbirds. Adults visit a variety of flowers as do most Sphingidae. Tuttle lists a few and others can be found on the internet. Adults probably wander at times in search of nectar. Tuttle (2007) also reports them visiting over-ripe cactus fruits.
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: > 300
Likely to be a pollinator of some desert plants like mescal and perhaps the larval foodplants as well. This could be important for the plants, but the moths are adaptable and can use many kinds of flowers. While dispersive and capable of straying hundreds of kilometers, if not more, this is apparently generally a resident species in most of the range mapped by Tuttle (2007). Despite its tropical heritage, the species has pupal diapause and adapts readily to seasonally arid or seasonally cold climates, and in most of its US range only underground pupae are present most of the year.
Life History and Behavior
Comments: This species adapts to local climate. It apparently normally has only one annual generation in desert regions, except two in artificially watered urban habitats. In the long, warm, moist, growing season of the southeastern United States there are probably two, perhaps a partial third, annual generations northward and three southward, with the adults typically present from about late May into September, or longer along the Gulf Coast. However, eclosion of adults from overwintered pupae is probably staggered, making the number of broods unclear. The egg and larval stage probably take about a month, and non-diapausing pupae probably less, so a generation time of around two months seems likely. Adults are nocturnal. Overwintering, aestivation, and any other dormant period, is as underground pupae. Occasionally strays occur far to the northeast of the normal range in summer or fall.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Manduca rustica
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Manduca rustica
Public Records: 47
Specimens with Barcodes: 103
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: G5 reflects the global status, for now N4N5 should probably apply for the the United States. A very widespread, versatile, moth from the southern US through much of Latin America.
Intrinsic Vulnerability: Not intrinsically vulnerable
Comments: Highly adaptable to new anthropogenic habitats and uses several exotic foodplants, as well as natives. Probably less adapatalbe in northeastern corner of the range.
Environmental Specificity: Broad. Generalist or community with all key requirements common.
Comments: Cities, deserts, humid temperate forests, rain forests, seasonally dry tropical forests.
Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)
Global Long Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)
Comments: No known widespread threats. Not generally found in northeastern US so unaffected by apparent Sphinginae declines there.
Global Protection: Several to very many (4 to >40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: No subspecies are recognized, and except for the slightly more frosted appearance of California specimens (Tuttle, 2007) there seems to be remarkably little variation in adult appearance from Virginia to South America. US populations in the arid southwest and humid southeast are rather distinctive ecologically and perhaps will prove to be genetically distinct, but no species-subspecies level taxonomic changes appear likely.
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