The Sphingidae of British Columbia

Paonias myops, Adams Lake, British Columbia, May 24, 2004, courtesy of Kathy Francoeur.

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List from Royal British Columbia Museum website.

Paonias excaecatus Maple Ridge, British Columbia,
July 3, 2014, courtesy of Veanne Gilchrist.

Smerinthus ophthalmica Maple Ridge, British Columbia,
July 3, 2014, courtesy of Veanne Gilchrist.

This website is designed and maintained by Bill Oehlke. Please send sightings (date, location, species) and/or images to Bill.

Visit British Columbia Catocala (Underwing Moths).

Manduca quinquemaculatus RBCM, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth: This large bodied moth flies in tobacco fields and vegetable gardens (potatoes, tomatoes) and wherever host plants are found.

Sphinx chersis RBCM, Northern Ash Sphinx; Great Ash Sphinx: The upperside of the forewing is soft dark gray to blue-gray with a series of black dashes, one of which reaches the wing tip.

Sphinx chersis, pre-pupal larva, July 27-28, 2006, Vancouver Island, Shannon Carifelle.

Sphinx drupiferarum RBCM, the Wild Cherry Sphinx: Forewings, long and slender, are held close to the body when the moth is at rest. This moth is similar to Sphinx vashti.

Sphinx perelegans RBCM, Elegant Sphinx. Sphinx perelegans adults fly in montane woodlands and mixed chaparral-type vegetation as a single brood in the north, with adults mainly on the wing in June and July. It flies from dusk until after midnight. Note dark thorax.

Sphinx vashti RBCM, the Snowberry Sphinx: Adults fly as a single brood in montane woodlands and along prairie streamcourses from April to August. The upperside of the forewing has a narrow black subterminal line bordered by a white inverted V-shaped line on the outside, and a black line at the apex.

Sphinx vashti, Adams Lake, May 24, 2004, Kathy Francoeur.

Pachysphinx modesta RBCM, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx: Hindwings are reddish purple with dark blue near anal angle. They are a heavy bodied species.

Paonias excaecata RBCM/VG, Blinded Sphinx: The outer margin of the forewing is quite wavy. There is a dark cell spot and a dark oblique line mid wing from the costa almost to the inner margin. Basic ground colour is pinkish brown. Flight would be June-July.

Paonias excaecata, Maple Ridge, July 3, 3014, Veanne Gilchrist

Paonias myops RBCM, the Small-eyed Sphinx

This species ranges across North America.

The hindwings have a small blue eyespot ringed with black on a yellow background.

Paonias myops, Adams Lake, May 24, 2004, Kathy Francoeur.

Smerinthus cerisyi RBCM, the Cerisyi's Sphinx or One-eyed Sphinx,

Larvae feed on poplars and willows. Flights would be from May-July as a single brood, although data suggests there might be two broods in BC. and other areas along the west coast, as far south as california.

Smerinthus opthalmica MPNw/VG

Larvae feed on poplars, aspen and willows. Note different shape of double arced forewing pm line compared to the straighter pm line of cerisyi, directly above. S. ophthalmica has smoother scalloping of the fw outer margin.

Smerinthus ophtlamica, Vernon, July 2005, courtesy of Julie Pinette.
Smerinthus ophthalmica, Gabriola Island, July 2, 2007, courtesy of Jane Southern.
Smerinthus opthalmica, Maple Ridge, July 3, 3014, Veanne Gilchrist

Visit Smerinthus ophthalmica, Pemberton, May 15, 2010, courtesy of John Tschopp.
Smerinthus ophthalmica, Duncan, Vancouver Island, May 2, 2013, Sharon Jackson.
Visit Smerinthus ophthalmica, Canyon, June 13, 2013, Elaine Dixon.

Smerinthus jamaicensis RBCM, the Twin-spotted Sphinx
Smerinthus jamaicensis closely resembles Smerinthus cerisyi, but jamaicensis is much smaller with larger blue patches on more vibrant and deeper purple in the lower wings.

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next two species.

Hemaris thetis RBCM, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth,

The moth flies along forest edges and in meadows, gardens and brushy fields. Day-flying adults nectar at lantana, dwarf bush honeysuckle, snowberry, orange hawkweed, thistles, lilac, Canada violet, etc.

Hemaris thetis Gabriola Island, June 28, 2008

Hemaris thysbe RBCM, the Hummingbird Clearwing

It is not difficult to see why many gardeners would mistake an Hemaris thysbe moth for a small hummingbird as it hovers, sipping nectar from flowers through a long feeding tube.

Deilephila elpenor NK/SL, the Large Elephant Hawk Moth

Introduced and established in southern B.C.

Larvae prefer Epilobium and Gallium, but will also eat foliage of other plants.

Deilephila elpenor, East Vancouver, June 16, 2011, Nayt Keane
Deilephila elpenor, Maple Ridge, July 27, 2011, Stephanie Larbalestier

Hyles gallii RBCM, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

Hyles gallii larva on Epilobium, Hazelton, Shannon Hurst.

Hyles lineata RBCM, the White-lined Sphinx

Adults usually fly at dusk, during the night, and at dawn, but they also fly during the day over a wide variety of open habitats including deserts, suburbs, and gardens.

Hyles lineata, August 25, 2005, near Radium Hot Springs, Cheryl Condy.
Hyles lineata September 2, 2012, Fort St. John, Elaine Walker.

Proserpinus clarkiae RBCM, Clark's Sphinx,

Adults fly in the afternoon from April-June in oak woodland and pine-oak woodland in foothills, nectaring from chia, heartleaf milkweed, golden currant, bluedicks, fairyfans, vetches, thistles, hedgenettles, etc.

Proserpinus flavofasciata RBCM, the Yellow-banded Day Sphinx,

Proserpinus flavofasciata adults fly from April-June in meadows in coniferous forests. Adults fly during the afternoon, nectaring from lilac, dandelion, cherry, etc.

Proserpinus flavofasciata, Invermere, May 2006, Matthew Holden.

Deilephila elpenor, Maple Ridge, British Columbia,
July 27, 2011, courtesy of Stephanie Larbalestier.

Goto British Columbia Sphingidae Larvae Thumbnails.

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