Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 2008

Baldwin County, Alabama

Xylophanes tersa courtesy of Dirk Bayer, Baldwin County, Alabama

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Dirk Bayer (DB) who sent me sighting data from Bon Secour, in southern parts of Baldwin County.

Twenty-seven Sphingidae species are listed for Alabama on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Baldwin County (Eight species: Agrius cingulatus, Dolba hyloeus, Lapara coniferarum, Enyo lugubris, Eumorpha pandorus, Darapsa myron, Xylophanes tersa and Hyles lineata are reported on U.S.G.S.). It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you are likely to encounter.

A "WO" after the species name indicates that I have no confirmed reports of this species in Baldwin County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present. A "USGS" indicates the moth is reported on the USGS website and/or in Lepidoptera of North America, #1. Distribution of Silkmoths (Saturniidae) and Hawkmoths (Sphingidae) of Eastern North America, an excellent little booklet available through Paul Opler.

Please help me develop this list with improved, documented accuracy by sending sightings (species, date, location), preferably with an electronic image, via email to Bill Oehlke.

The night-blooming moon flower will attract many Sphingidae at dusk and into the night.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, DB/USGS Pink-spotted hawkmoth,

This species is a strong migrant and adults nectar from deep-throated flowers including moonflower (Calonyction aculeatum), morning glory (Convolvulus), honey suckle (Lonicera) and petunia (Petunia species).

Agrius cingulata: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting on October 16, 2002; another late September 2006 - October 2006
Agrius cingulata: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting on April 12, 2009

Ceratomia amyntor WO, the Elm Sphinx or Four-horned Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is brown with dark brown and white markings including a white costal area near the wing base, dark streaks along the veins, and a white spot in the cell. Larvae feed on Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), and cherry (Prunus).

Ceratomia catalpae DB, the Catalpa Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is yellowish brown with no white markings, but there are indistinct black lines and dashes. The cell spot is gray with a black outline. The larvae feed in large groups and are much more spectacular than the moths.
Catalpa is the larval host.

Ceratomia catalpa: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting May 25, 2004.

Ceratomia undulosa DB/ WO, the Waved Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale brownish gray with wavy black and white lines and a black-outlined white cell spot. The upperside of the hindwing is gray with diffuse darker bands.

Ceratomia undulosa: Dirk Bayer reports sightings April 3, 4, 2006; June 11, 2007
Ceratomia undulosa: Dirk Bayer reports sightings April 20, 2008
Ceratomia undulosa, Dirk Bayer reports sightings April 12, 2009

Dolba hyloeus DB/USGS, the Pawpaw Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is dark brown with a dusting of white scales. Some moths have patches of reddish or yellowish brown on the wings.

Dolba hyloeus: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting April 16, 2004, April 3, 2006.
Dolba hyloeus: Dirk Bayer: one in July
Dolba hyloeus: Dirk Bayer: March 20, 2008
Dolba hyloeus: Dirk Bayer: April 12, 2009

Isoparce cupressi DB, the Cypress or Baldcypress Sphinx

Isoparce cupressi, the rare Cypress Sphinx, flies in Cypress swamps in Georgia (specimen type locality), and from Maryland to Texas. It has been reported in Mexico.

Isoparce cupressi: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting with image, July 18, 2006.

Lapara phaeobrachycerous WO, the Pine Sphinx

If you have pines, you might have this species.

slight possibility

Lapara coniferarum DB/USGS, the Southern Pine Sphinx

The upperside is of the forewing is gray with two (sometimes one or three) black dashes near the wing center; other markings are usually diffuse. The upperside of the hindwing is a uniform brown-gray. If you've got pines, this species is likely present.

Lapara coniferarum: Dirk Bayer reports sightings March 20 after 1:00 am; April 4, 2006; October 2006; couple late September 2007.
Lapara coniferarum: Dirk Bayer reports sightings April 12, 2009

Manduca jasminearum WO, the Ash Sphinx

The upperside of forewing is gray to grayish brown with a black line running from the middle of the costa to the middle of the outer margin; the line may be broken near the margin. There is a splash of brown around the cell spot.

Manduca quinquemaculata DB, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

I suspect if you grow tomatoes, you are likely to encounter Manduca quinquemaculata.

Manduca quinquemaculata: Dirk Bayer: a couple in July

Manduca rustica DB, the Rustic Sphinx

Look for three large yellow spots on each side of the abdomen. The upperside of the forewing is yellowish brown to deep chocolate brown with a dusting of white scales and zigzagged black and white lines.

Manduca rustica: Dirk Bayer: May 18, 2006; June 11, 2007; August 7, 2007; June 1, 2008; September 6, 2008

Manduca sexta DB, the Carolina Sphinx

If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered Manduca sexta in the larval stage.

Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.

Manduca sexta: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting October 22, 2004.

Neococytius cluentius stray

Paratrea plebeja DB/USGS, the Plebeian Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is gray with indistinct black and white markings. There is a series of black dashes from the base to the tip, and a small white cell spot.

Paratrea plebeja: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting June 12, 2002.

Sphinx franckii WO, Franck's Sphinx Moth

The costal half of the forewings are grey, but the posterior portion is a distinctive warm yellowish-brown; the boundary between these two areas is marked with a series of dark diagonal streaks. Similar to S. kalmiae but lacks the dark bar along the fw inner margin.

Sphinx kalmiae DB, the Laurel Sphinx

The lower forewings are predominantly brownish-yellow with a fairly wide dark bar along the inner margin. At rest the wings hug the body, giving the moth a long slender look.

Sphinx kalmiae: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting August 8, 2002
Sphinx kalmiae: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting March 10, 2009

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis DB/ WO, the Walnut Sphinx

The adults are also highly variable; sometimes wings of an individual may be all one color or may have several colors, ranging from pale to dark brown, and may have a white or pink tinge. Patterns range from faint to pronounced. See the file for the female; she is different.

Amorpha juglandis: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting April 15, 2006.

Pachysphinx modesta WO, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

They are common on Prince Edward Island, and are possibility for Baldwin County.

Paonias astylus WO, the Huckleberry Sphinx

Paonias astylus flies from March-September in Florida and from April-September in Louisiana. There is one brood northward from June-August. This appears to be an uncommon species.

Paonias excaecata WO, the Blinded Sphinx

Named for the dull grey-blue spot (minus dark pupil) in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution in the eastern United States. I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as Florida.

Paonias myops WO, the Small-eyed Sphinx

Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is probably common in Baldwin County.

I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as Florida.

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, the Twin-spotted Sphinx

This moth is widely distributed and fairly common.

Along the East Coast, it flies from P.E.I. to Florida.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos titan WO, the Titan Sphinx. possible stray

The body is dark brown with a wide white stripe across the abdomen. The wings are dark brown. It is very similar to above species, but the upperside of the hindwing has pale patches along the costa and inner margin.

Enyo lugubris, the Mournful Sphinx, DB/USGS

The body and wings are dark brown. The forewing has a large black patch covering most of the outer half of the wing. There is a pale tan cell spot (dark inner pupil), and a fairly straight median line to the inside of the cell spot.

Enyo lugubris: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting October 13, 2002; common late September 2006 into October; December 1, 2006; common September 2008.

Erinnyis obscura, the Obscure Sphinx, WO

During the night adults nectar at flowers, including bouncing bet (Saponaria officinalis) and Asystasia gangetica beginning at dusk.

July and August are flight times in the southern states. remote possibility

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next two species.

Hemaris thysbe DB, 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.

Hemaris thysbe: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting July 28, 2004

Hemaris diffinis WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth
Adults mimic bumblebees and are quite variable. The wings are basically clear, with dark brown to brownish-orange veins, bases and edges. The thorax is golden-brown to dark greenish-brown. The abdomen tends to be dark (black) with 1-2 yellow segments before the tip.

Pseudosphinx tetrio, the Tetrio Sphinx, WO

The upperside of the forewing is dark brown with a dark spot at the base of the costa and blurry gray and white markings. The upperside of the hindwing is dark brown with white along the inner margin, and the lower half of the outer margin.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx

Larvae get large and feed on grape vines and Virginia creeper.

Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx.

Eumorpha fasciatus DB, the Banded Sphinx/Lesser Vine Sphinx
The upperside of the moth is dark pinkish brown. Each forewing has a lighter brown band along the costa, and sharp pinkish white bands and streaks. Larvae feed upon primrose-willow, Ludwigia (water primrose) and other plants in the evening primrose family.

Eumorpha fasciatus: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting May 3, 2006; September 19, 2002, couple late September 2007
Eumorpha fasciatus larva and pupa, Bon Secour, courtesy of Dirk Bayer.

Eumorpha intermedia WO, the Intermediate Sphinx
The Intermediate Sphinx Moth, (Eumorpha intermedia), (Wing span: 3 9/16 - 3 7/8 inches (9 - 9.8 cm)), flies in lower austral and subtropical lowlands in North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Texas. posibility

Eumorpha pandorus DB/USGS, the Pandorus Sphinx

If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you probably have this species. I often get asked to identify larvae from areas not previously reported.

Eumorpha pandorus: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting September 18, 1998.
Eumorpha pandorus: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting May 9, 2009.

Eumorpha typhon WO, the Typhon Sphinx. The upperside of wings is deep red-brown with pale brown bands. Each hindwing has pink along the costal margin and a triangular white spot on the outer part of the inner margin. possible rare stray, based on Derek Bridgehouse report from Madison County.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis DB/USGS, the Nessus Sphinix

This day flier is widely distributed. If you have Virginia Creeper, you probably have the Nessus Sphinx.

Two bright, distinct, narrow yellow bands are often visible on the abdomen.

Amphion floridensis: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting March 18, 2004

Darapsa choerilus DB, the Azalea Sphinx

The lower wings of this hawkmoth are a solid brownish-orange, matching the body colour.

You will often see this species listed as Darapsa pholus, especially in older literature.

Darapsa choerilus: Dirk Bayer: March 26, 2007; a couple in July.
Darapsa choerilus: Dirk Bayer: April 12, 2009

Darapsa myron DB/USGS, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx, Grapevine Sphinx, Hog Sphinx

If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this species nearby. The lower wings are orange.

Darapsa myron: Dirk Bayer reports a sighting August 10, 2003.
Darapsa myron: Dirk Bayer reports sightings March 13, 18, 27, 28, 30, 31; April 1, 3, 4, 2006, flying in May.
Darapsa myron: Dirk Bayer: common throughout July
Visit Darapsa myron, Dirk Bayer, March 20, April 20, 2008
Darapsa myron, Dirk Bayer, April 12, 2009

Darapsa versicolor WO, the Hydrangea Sphinx

If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you might have the Hydrangea Sphinx.

Deidamia inscriptum DB/WO, the Lettered Sphinx

The moth's outer margin of the forewing is deeply scalloped. The upperside is light brown with dark brown markings. There is a small black and white spot near the tip. Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus) all serve as larval hosts.

Dirk Bayer reports sightings April 20, 2008
Deidamia inscriptum: Dirk Bayer reports sightings February 28; March 2, 8, 2007.
Dirk Bayer reports sightings March 12, 16; April 1, 15, 2006.
Deidamia inscriptum, Dirk Bayer, April 12, 2009

Hyles lineata DB/USGS, the White-lined Sphinx

This species has strong migrating tendancies from much further south. There are records from New Hampshire and Maine.

Hyles lineata: Dirk Bayer reports sightings May 5, 2006; August 14, 2002

Proserpinus guarae WO, the Proud Sphinx

The rare and possibly endangered Proud Sphinx flies from Texas and Louisiana east to northern Florida, north to Alabama, Missouri, northern Georgia, and South Carolina. slight possibility

Sphecodina abbottii WO, the Abbott's Sphinx

This moth is very much under reported across the United States. It is a rapid day flier so is probably not in too many collections. Grape is a popular larval host.

Xylophanes tersa DB/USGS, the Tersa Sphinx

This moth is much more common to the south. It is a strong migrant, however, and may establish itself in Baldwin County periodically.

Visit Xylophanes tersa, Dirk Bayer, April 20, 2008
Xylophanes tersa: Dirk Bayer has sent me images of larvae from Baldwin County. He also sends sighting of an adult moth, September 9, 2003; October 2006.
Visit Xylophanes tersa, courtesy of Dirk Bayer.

Baldwin County Recording Sheets:
Days 1-16 page 1 A. cingulata to A. titan
Days 17-31 page 1 A. cingulata to A. titan
Days 1-16 page 2 E. lugubris to X. tersa
Days 17-31 page 2 E. lugubris to X. tersa
Days 1-16 blank
Days 17-31 blank
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Enjoy some of nature's wonderments: Saturniidae cocoons. Cocoons of the giant silkmoths may be purchased in the fall and winter. Big and beautiful giant silk moths will emerge in spring/summer. Read Actias luna rearing article. Additional online help available.

Dirk Bayer writes, May 14, 2009, "The light has been attracting a wide variety of Sphingidae for the last few weeks including hog, waved, paw paw, tersa, rustic, lesser vine and soutern pine, but the best was the pandorus sphinx that showed up Saturday. It was the first one Ive seen in many years."

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