SPHINX MORIO Rothschild & Jordan, 1903


GB: Asian Pine Hawkmoth; Larch Hawkmoth

Hyloicus pinastri arestus Jordan, 1931, Novit. zool. 36: 244--245.

Type locality: Amurland and Ussuri [Russian Far East].

(Taxonomic note. Sphinx morio is now recognized as a species distinct from Sphinx pinastri Linnaeus, 1758, with three subspecies. Subsp. morio inhabits only central and northern Honshu, Japan (Owada & Kogi, 1992); subsp. inouei (Owada & Kogi, 1992) inhabits only northern Hokkaido, Japan (Owada & Kogi, 1992); subsp. arestus (Jordan, 1931) occurs from Korea, north-eastern China and the Russian Far East across southern Siberia and Mongolia to the Altai (Owada & Kogi, 1992).


Holarctic; eastern Palaearctic region. Pleistocene refuge: Monocentric -- Manchurian.


Adult Sphinx morio arestus, Muling, Heilongjiang, China. Photo: © Tony Pittaway, IZAS.

Wingspan: 60--80mm. Very similar to Sphinx pinastri in external appearence, although many individuals are tinged with reddish-brown. However, the proboscis is only half as long as it is in Sphinx pinastri (less than 1 cm vs. more than 2 cm in the latter).

In the male genitalia, the upper branch of the sacculus is approximately equal to the lower in length, slightly curved, flattened and broad. This is markedly different from that of Sphinx pinastri, where the upper branch is long, curved and cylindrical.

Male Sphinx morio arestus, Russian Altai, vi.2015. Photo: © Svyatoslav Knyazev.


A species of cool larch (Larix) and pine (Pinus) forests.

According to Litvinchuk (1986), Sphinx morio mates only during the morning. This differs from the behaviour of Sphinx pinastri and, if confirmed by further studies, may explain how these two species remain reproductively isolated. A similar mechanism keeps Hyles euphorbiae (Linnaeus, 1758) and Hyles tithymali (Boisduval, 1834) isolated. Owada & Kogi (1992) were of the opinion that subsp. morio flies at daybreak in Japan.


Usually univoltine; mid June to late July. Occasionally, there is a partial second generation in August.


OVUM: Oval and slightly dorso-ventrally flattened (2.5 x 1.5mm); shiny pale green at first, changing to reddish yellow. Each female lays between 100 and 120 eggs, which hatch 13--15 days later (Zhao & Zhang, 1992).

LARVA: Full-fed 54--65mm. Dimorphic: predominantly green or brown.

Full-grown larva of Sphinx morio arestus, Transbaikalia, Russia. Photo: © Oleg Korsun

Very similar in both appearence and behaviour to Sphinx pinastri. Found mainly during July and August.

Hostplants. Various species of Pinus and Larix, particularly Pinus sibirica, Pinus sylvestris, Larix sibirica and Larix gmelinii (syn. Larix dahurica) in Siberia (Zolotarenko, Petrova & Shiryaev, 1978). In the Altai, this species can be a major pest of Pinus sylvestris, sometimes causing complete defoliation of large areas (Plotnikov & Gninenko, 1980).

PUPA: 30--35mm. Very similar to that of Sphinx pinastri, except that the free tongue-case is replaced by a blunt knob.


None recorded.


In the western palaearctic, confined to the Altai Mountains (Plotnikov & Gninenko, 1980; Izerskiy, 1999) and foothills north to Omsk and Tomsk. Recorded localities are Bazoi, Tomsk, Chingisy, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Kalinovka, Korolevka, Barnaul and Yailyu (Zolotarenko, Petrova & Shiryaev, 1978; Knyazev, 2020).

The distribution of this species does not overlap with that of Sphinx pinastri, which occurs no farther east than Kurgan (Zolotarenko, Petrova & Shiryaev, 1978) and Gorky (Izerskiy, 1999).

Extra-limital range. From the Altai Mountains across southern Siberia and Mongolia to the Russian Far East, north-eastern China and Korea. There is also an isolated population in the Qingling Mountains of Shaanxi Province, China, at around 1500m altitude.


Central and northern Honshu, Japan, as subsp. morio (Owada & Kogi, 1992). Northern Hokkaido, Japan, as subsp. inouei (Owada & Kogi, 1992; Kawahara, 1997).

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