San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Field Guide

Penstemonia hennei
Sycamore Borer


Five species comprise the genus Penstemonia, all of which are from the western United States and particularly the Southwest. All of the species are root borers in various species of the plant genus Penstemon.

According to Duckworth and Eichlin, "it is a recently evolving group of species, with similar genitalia and imperfectly understood variation in color patterns."


The head is brown-black, as is the abdomen. Some yellow stripes can be found on the abdomen. The female has a yellow head and is broadly banded with yellow. The forewing of the female is nearly or entirely opaque. The wingspan is 7-12 mm.


Penstemonia hennei is usually found in western San Bernardino and Riverside counties to southern coastal California. Specimens have also been seen on Catalina Island.


Hosts are the showy penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis) as well as Penstemon parishii (which is a common hybrid of P. spectabilis and P. centranthifolius).


Duckworth, W. Donald, and Thomas D. Eichlin. (1988). The Moths of America North of Mexico. Washington, D.C.: The Wedge Entomological Research Foundation.

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Distribution Map - highlights the Southern California locations where specimens in the SDNHM collection have been captured. See larger view.

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Text by Emily Finley in consultation with Michael Wall.
Photos by Emily Finley.

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