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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/HUGE Brown


Hi Ed.  I live is SW Houston, TX (in town)  My cat found this monster on my patio and I found her watching it intently.  It is BIG (3 inches at least) and has a cute tail.  I tried to get several photos... attached.  Do you know what it might be? I tried searching the web, and there were some that were close...but nothing quite the same.  Thanks!

Dear Cathi - This is a mature larva of Xylophanes tersa, a sphinx moth (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) known as the tersa sphinx, and a beautiful specimen at that! See for images and detailed information on its life history.

Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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