Week #2: Endangered Animal

Blackburn's Sphinx Moth

(Manduca blackburni)

The Blackburn's Sphinx Moth is a moth found only in Hawai'i. It is currently Federally and State listed as Endangered. The moth is under threat from habitat loss and degradation from urban developments, and increased wildfires. Other insects such as the big-headed ant and several flies and wasps are also threatening the moth's population. 

The Blackburn's Sphinx Moth can be identified by its long and narrow forewings, and its spindle shaped body. It is usually a grayish brown with black rings on the top of the hindwings. It also has five yellow spots along each side of its abdomen.  As a caterpillar, it has two color morphs, green or gray. It has a wingspan of up to 5 inches and is Hawai'i's largest native insect. The moth as a larvae fed on the nightshade (Solanaceae) family of plants, but as those are seeing decline as well, it has since swapped to tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca), which is an invasive plant. 

In the 1970's the Blackburn's Sphinx Moth was thought to be extinct, until it was rediscovered in 1984 in Maui.  Blackburn's Sphinx Moth has also been found in the islands of Kaho'olawe and Hawaii.

For designing the moth, I first wanted to see how its wings operated. I found that unlike butterflies, moth's wings can fold when they are resting. So from there, I wanted to create wings that could fold back. The first thought was to create a pivot point on the wings. 

Enlarged vs Life Sized

I scaled the moth to be bigger than it actually is and printed it out. Then I made and outline of where each wing would be and cut it. I realized for the hindwing to also be able to pivot from the same spot as the forewing, it would need an extend area that would help it reach the pivot point. There I made sure to give an extra area for the pivot point. The top left trace was the hindwing without the extra area.

Picture of how the forewing and hindwing would connect and pivot from the same point.

I cut the two forewings out of a muffin cardboard box, and 4 copies of the forewings in a thinner darker shopping bag material. This was mainly to cover the underside of the cardboard cut since it has branding and colors underneath. The hindwings were made of a thin yet sturdy piece of cardboard paper from a shopping bag. 

I also tried to draw the patterns of the wings with marker

At this point I also created the body of the moth by simply crushing a piece of paper and wrapping it with electric tape. I realized at this point that there was no way to connect the wings to this round body. So I created a bridge that would be glued to the top of the body and provide a pivot point for all wings.

Using zip ties, I connected the wings with the bridge via the pivot point

It can close perfectly!

Hot glued the part of the zip ties that I cut to serve as the antennae 

Because the reason the moths are endangered is mostly due to the  loss of their homes by natural and human means, I wanted to use a material that could contribute to both. The moths lose their habitats through wildfires, and human development. I felt that cardboard and paper bags were materials that could symbol both, as they are easy flammable and extremely common and used amongst humans.