Plants and Animals

Proserpinus flavofasciata Yellow-banded day-sphinx

Key Characteristics

The Yellow-banded day sphinx mimics bumblebees as an adult. Its average wingspan ranges from 1.5-1.9 inches (3.9 - 4.9 cm). The wings, thorax and abdomen are dark brown in background color. The forewings (i.e., upper wings) have a broad faint to distinct whitish median band reaching from the top (costal) margin of the wing to the bottom (inner) margin. The hindwings (i.e., lower wings) have a broad yellow or orange median band that may not reach the inner or bottom margin of the hindwing although this is variable. The head and sides of the thorax are sulfur yellow.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G4G5 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from apparently secure to secure
State Rank: S1S2 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from critically imperiled to imperiled


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Houghton 1 1998

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Little information is available on the Yellow-banded day-sphinx. The species has been found in openings and along the edges of boreal forests. The larval host plant is fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium). The larvae also may feed on thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus). Adults also have been seen nectaring on flowers (e.g., lilac, dandelion, and cherry blossoms).

Specific Habitat Needs

Host plant needed in: Boreal forestMesic northern forest.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

This species is only known from two specimens collected from one county in the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. Data on this species' current distribution and abundance are unavailable. Threats to this species include or may include habitat loss and/or degradation due to altered fire regimes, use of pesticides and herbicides and lack of scientific knowledge about this species. In general, surveys are needed to determine this species' current status and distribution in the state. Research to obtain information on this species' life history and ecology in Michigan and efforts to assess threats to this species also are warranted. Sites at which this species has been documented should be protected and maintained. Adequate and suitable habitat should be maintained at known sites including sufficient densities of the species' host plants. Maintenance and long-term preservation of habitat at known sites will require protection or restoration of natural disturbance regimes and other ecological processes that drive the establishment and maintenance of the natural communities.

Active Period

Flight from first week of April to fourth week of June

Survey Methods

Proserpinus flavofasciata adults are spring fliers and fly as a single brood from April-June in meadows in coniferous forests. Adults fly during the afternoon, nectaring from flowers including lilac, dandelion and cherry. Visual surveys for adults and larvae can be conducted by looking for this species on nectar sources and larval host plants in appropriate habitats during appropriate time periods and weather conditions. Reports of this species should be documented with a voucher specimen or a good photograph and verification by a species expert.


Survey Period: From first week of April to fourth week of June

Time of Day: Evening
Humidity: Humid
Cloud Cover: Overcast
Air Temperature: Warm
Wind: No Wind
Survey Method Comment: Ideal survey conditions but surveys can be conducted under other conditions as well.

Visual survey for adults

Survey Period: From first week of April to fourth week of June

Time of Day: Afternoon
Air Temperature: Warm

Visual survey for larvae

Survey Period: From third week of June to fourth week of July

Time of Day: Daytime
Air Temperature: Warm


Survey References

  • Covell, Charles. A Field Guide to the Moths of Eastern North America. Peterson Field Guide Series, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA. 496 pp.
  • Martin, J.E.H. 1977. The Insects and Arachnids of Canada (Part 1): Collecting, preparing, and preserving insects, mites, and spiders. Publication 1643. Biosystematics Research Institute, Ottawa.

Technical References

  • Cohen, J.G. 2000. Natural community abstract for mesic northern forest. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 7 pp.
  • Hodges, R.W. 1971. The Moths of America North of Mexico Fascicle 21 Sphingoidea Hawk Moths. E.W. Classey Limited and R.B.D. Publications Inc. London, England. 158 pp.+ plates and indices.
  • Stehr, F. W. 1997. Michigan Lepidoptera Survey Sites and Seasonal Occurrence of Michigan's Listed Species Annual Report 1997. 30 pp.+ MI Lepidoptera Survey Data Collection Form