They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes moths! So if you’ve ever sat under a porchlight after dark, you’ve likely seen some of these massive moths in Texas that call the state their home.
There are many different types of large moths in Texas. Each one has unique color patterns to camouflage into its habitat. Mythology and superstition are often associated with moths. Moths are even said to be signs of death and visiting spirits.
15 Large moths in Texas
Even though large moths can look pretty scary, most are completely harmless. Let’s learn more about common large moths found in Texas.
1. Black Witch Moth
Scientific name: Ascalapha odorata
These large moths are said to be the harbinger of death in Mexican and Caribbean cultures. In Jamaican mythology, they’re believed to be the spirits of dead loved ones visiting.
Black witch moths earned their name from superstition and folklore. They are dark gray and black, with an angular pattern on their wings to blend in with tree bark.
2. Polyphemus Moth
Scientific name: Antheraea polyphemus
This giant Texas moth is named for the Polyphemus or cyclops in Greek mythology. The Polyphemus moth’s wingspan measures a whopping 4 to 6 inches.
These large moths are camouflaged in varying shades of gray, tan, reddish-brown, or yellow-brown. In addition, they have a light-colored false eye on each of their wings.
3. Tersa Sphinx Moth
cientific name: Xylophanes tersa
Tersa sphinx is a common moth species that lives in Texas. The caterpillar for this moth has fake eyes on its back that deter predators.
The moth has wedge-shaped brown and black markings on its wings and a wingspan of about four inches. The front of its body is brown, while the back is tan.
4. Rustic Sphinx Moth
Scientific name: Manduca rustica
As their name implies, these moths have a rustic wood pattern on their wings. They’re gray and black colored to blend into wooded areas and tree bark.
Rustic sphinx moths are nocturnal, so it’s unlikely you’ll spot one without a keen eye because they camouflage so well into their surroundings.
5. Ailanthus Webworm Moth
Scientific name: Atteva aurea
This brightly colored orange and white moth doesn’t look like a moth at all. Instead, they are in the family of ermine moths that live in tropical regions.
Ailanthus webworm moths more resemble beetles when perched on plant stems and a wasp when flying. In addition, the moth’s bright colors indicate to predators that they are toxic to eat.
6. Luna Moth
Scientific name: Actias luna
The luna moth has a light-colored body. Their wings are beautiful lime green, some more vibrant than others. Their wings are lined with purple or dark brown.
Luna moths are some of the largest moths in Texas. Their wingspan, on average, measures about 4.5 inches, but they can reach a width exceeding 7 inches!
7. Imperial Moth
Scientific name: Eacles imperialis
The imperial moth has a wingspan that ranges from 3 inches up to almost 7 inches. Their furry bodies are plump and robust.
Imperial moths are usually yellow with red, brown, or purple blotches that vary in shade and intensity. Their color markings match their surroundings to camouflage into their environment.
8. Peacock Moth
Scientific name: Automeris io
The peacock moth is also known as the Io moth, a name derived from Greek mythology. They are some of the most colorful large moths found in southeastern parts of Texas.
Peacock moths are usually a vibrant yellow with orange markings. However, depending on their surroundings, colors may vary. Two large false eyes on their hindwings ward off predators.
9. Cecropia Moth
Scientific name: Hyalophora cecropia
The cecropia moth is the largest moth native to North America. They live in the piney woods region of East Texas.
Cecropia females can grow a wingspan up to 7 inches in width. They are brown with vibrant orange and white “apostrophe” marks on each wing.
10. White-lined Sphinx
Scientific name: Hyles lineata
White-lined sphinx moths are also known as hummingbird moths because of their size and flight patterns. They have stout furry bodies and a wingspan measuring 2 to 3 inches.
White-lined sphinxes are various shades of brown and black to camouflage. Their dart-shaped wings have 6 distinct white lines along with other colors depending on the surroundings.
11. Banded Sphinx
Scientific name: Eumorpha fasciatus
Not only are they found in Texas, but banded sphinx live all over the southwestern United States, and they’re also found in South America.
Depending on their environment, banded sphinxes vary in color from light pink to dark tan and sometimes brown. In addition, they may display shades of light blue and bright pink on their hindwings.
12. Vine Sphinx
Scientific name: Eumorpha vitis
This large moth gets its name from its caterpillars’ love of grape leaves, so they lay their eggs on grape vines. They also have the sleek sphinx look.
Vine sphinxes are brown, tan, gray, and black with camouflage lines through their wings. They easily blend into their surroundings, but they are still a very common sight in Texas.
13. Five-spotted Hawkmoth
Scientific name: Manduca quinquemaculata
Texans with tomato gardens are familiar with tomato hornworms, but not many people know that those hornworms are hawkmoth caterpillars.
Those tomato hornworms develop into the very common five-spotted hawkmoth. This large moth is a rustic brown, gray, and black to blend in with its natural surroundings.
14. Yellow Woolly Bear
Scientific name: Spilosoma virginica
The name says it all. This teddy bear of a moth is fluffy pale yellow or white with chubby furry legs and antenna. Caterpillars are also fuzzy and a common sight in Texas.
Also called the Virginian tiger moth, the yellow woolly bear is found in eastern parts of the United States. They feed on a wide range of vegetation and can live in various habitats.
15. Walnut Sphinx
Scientific name: Amorpha juglandis
Walnut sphinx moths live in wooded areas in Texas and other parts of the United States and Canada. The color of the walnut sphinx matches the bark of the trees they live and feed around.
Caterpillars feed on hickory, beech, hazelnut, and walnut trees. They have evolved an unusual defense, and that is to let out a high-pitched whistling sound when attacked by a bird.