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(invertebrate zoology)
The single family of the lepidopteran superfamily Sphingoidea.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a family of hawk moths. They are of average and large size; the wingspan is 2 to 18 cm. They are characterized by a cigar-shaped body, narrow elongated forewings, and spindle-shaped antennae. The insects can fly with a velocity of up to 54 km/hr and “stand” in the air, sucking nectar from flowers with their long tongue while in flight. (The length of the tongue in the Madagascar hawk moth, Macrosila predicta, exceeds 25 cm.) Sphingidae caterpillars are always naked. They feed on leaves, stripping the shoots bare. There are about 1,200 species, which are found throughout the world. Most are found in the tropics; in the European part of the USSR there are 26 species, and about 40 are found in the Far East. Some members of the family Sphingidae are capable of long flights. (Daphnis nerii flies from the shores of the Black Sea to Finland.) The pupae winter in the soil. Some species are harmful to one or several closely related plants, most frequently woody plants. The pine hawk moth (Sphinx pinastri) and the eyed hawk moth (Smerinthus ocellatus) are among the harmful species in the USSR. The convolvulus hawk moth (Herse convolvuli) is useful in destroying bindweed in the southern Ukraine.


Kuznetsov, N. Ia. “Obzor semeistva Sphingidae palearkticheskoi i otchasti paleanarkticheskoi (kitaisko-gimalaiskoi) fauny.” Tr. Russkogo entomologicheskogo obshchestva, 1906, vol. 37, nos. 3–4.
Zhizn’ zhivotnykh. Edited by L. A. Zenkevich, vol. 3. Moscow, 1969.
Seitz, A. Die Gross-Schmetterlinge der Erde, section 1, vol. 2. Stuttgart, 1913.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The collected species of flying animals include insects (such as bees, mosquitoes, flies, beetles, dragonflies, butterflies, and hawkmoths), bats, hummingbirds, and other birds such as seabirds.
Stillwell chose to observe the giant hawkmoth (Manduca sexta).
Warwickshire's insects also boast some incredible talents including the common ant, which can carry ten times its own bodyweight, and the Hummingbird Hawkmoth which is such a good impressionist it is often mistaken for a real Hummingbird.
Researchers have already used the method to make a hawkmoth raise and lower one wing - getting the beating close to take-off speed.
And creatures like the hummingbird hawkmoth, that we filmed in slow motion."
They include single specimens of a carpenter moth (family Cossidae) (Gillett, 1998a) and of two migratory species of Plusiinae (family Noctuidae) (Gillett, 1998b*), and, most recently, the Savannah Hawkmoth, Sphingonaepiopsis nana (family Sphingidae) (Gillett and Howarth 2007).
Then there is the Brazilian hawkmoth caterpillar (Leucorhampa ornatus).
Like an unnoticed memento mori, the leaves above the epithalamic pool "Hang as still as hawk or hawkmoth," the first recognizable as Hopkins' elegant-yet-deadly "Windhover" suspended above its prey; the second, a more common harbinger of death--both motionless, both waiting.