Sphingidae research

The 1450 species of Sphingidae or hawkmoths are one of the most-studied groups of insects. 

The large size, great beauty and elegant lines of hawkmoths have long appealed to both scientists and the public. They are among the most frequently reared Lepidoptera and there is a wealth of information on their biology and life histories. 

Hawkmoths have provided model organisms for studies in fields as diverse as:

  • genetics
  • physiology
  • functional morphology
  • plant-insect interactions
  • pollination biology and biogeography

Our hawkmoth research aims to develop our understanding of this family through both morphological and DNA analysis, and provide an online taxonomy resource known as CATE. 

  • A Small elephant hawkmoth
    CATE project

    Creating a Taxonomic e-Science (CATE) is a web-based consensus taxonomy for Sphingidae.

  • A hummungbird hawkmoth, feeding from a flower
    Molecular studies of hawkmoths

    This projects uses DNA sequences to conduct a large-scale molecular analysis of hawkmoths.

Research leader

Ian Kitching
Dr Ian Kitching

Research entomologist specialising in Sphingidae or hawkmoths.