Created/dedicated, April 5, 2012, as per personal communication with Marvin Smith; March 21, 2012 - April 5, 2012
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America; April 5, 2012
Updated as per BAMONA; April 5, 2012

Searcy County, Arkansas
Sphingidae

Darapsa choerilus, Searcy County, Arkansas, March 21, 2012, courtesy of Marvin Smith,
in the Ozark Mountains of Searcy County, Arkansas, 1600 feet.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Marvin Smith who has sent me many images of Saturniidae and Sphingidae encountered in Searcy County. Marvin sent me the picture of the Darapsa choerilus moth from Searcy County at the top of this page. Other images sent by Marvin are documented on the links below.

Marvin writes, March 21, 2012, "Like most of the continental US, mothing activity is running a couple of weeks or so ahead of normal in northern Arkansas due to our mild winter and early spring.

"My first Saturniidae was (as usual) an Actias luna that showed up at my lights on 3/13/12.

"We are currently in the midst of a major spring rain event (4.3 thus far and another day of rain predicted). Still, last evening (3/20/12) an Antheraea polyphemus and a couple of Darapsa choerilus were among the moths that made it onto my covered porch. The Azalea Sphinx were my first Sphinix moths of the season. The Polyphemus seemed totally exhausted from flying wet, but I moved him to a dry location and he flew off into the night again after a few hours.

"Ill have to wait a while longer for Catocalas to start showing up.

"I hope you are well and everything is going fine up your direction."

Twenty-nine Sphingidae species are listed for Arkansas on the BAMONA website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Searcy County (only one, Sphinx kalmiae, is reported on BAMONA as of April 5, 2012). It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you are likely to encounter.

Moths that I expect may be in Searcy County, although not officially recorded, are indicated by a "WO".

A "BAMONA" 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.

Visit Arkansas Catocala (Underwing Moths).

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, WO 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).

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 WO, 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 hageni WO, Hagen's Sphinx or Osage Orange Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is gray with a green tint and has dark indistinct wavy lines, and pale gray patches at the wing tip and along the costa.

Ceratomia undulosa MS, 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, March 23, 2012, Marvin Smith

Dolba hyloeus WO, 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.

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. The upperside of the hindwing is mostly black, with gray at the lower margin.

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

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

Manduca rustica WO, 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 sexta WO, 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.

Paratrea plebeja WO, 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.

Sphinx chersis WO, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx

This species might be present in Washington County. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, the Wild Cherry Sphinx: The forewing is dull slate grey with considerable light grey scaling in a broad band along the costa about 3/4 of distance from body toward the apex. Median lines are black and thin. There is a wavy, diffuse dark subterminal line, inwardly bordered by white, and a whitish bar in terminal area, paralleling outer margin.

Sphinx kalmiae BAMONA, 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.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis MS, 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, April 4, 2012, Marvin Smith

Paonias astylus WO, the Huckleberry Sphinx

Generally, Paonias astylus, the Huckleberry Sphinx (wingspan 55-65 mm), ranges from Maine south to Florida, west to Missouri and Mississippi.

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 found in many Arkansas counties.

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 fadus WO, the Titan Sphinx.

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. unlikely stray

Aellopos titan WO, the Titan Sphinx.

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. unlikely stray

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next two species.

Hemaris thysbe WO, 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 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.

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 pandorus WO, 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.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, 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.

Darapsa choerilus MS, 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, March 21, 2012, earlier than usual, Marvin Smith

Darapsa myron WO, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx

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

Darapsa versicolor WO, the Hydrangea Sphinx

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

Deidamia inscriptum 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.

Hyles lineata WO, the White-lined Sphinx

This species has strong migrating tendancies from much further south.

Proserpinus guarae WO, the Proud Sphinx: Abdomen may have a pale band running across the rear. Wings are brown. Forewing sometimes has a greenish tint and may have the median area darker. Lines bordering median area are curved. Hindwing has a reddish brown border. slight possibility

Proserpinus juanita WO, the Juanita Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale gray-green with a deep green-brown median area and a white dash at the wing tip. rare

Sphecodina abbottii MS, 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.

Sphecodina abbottii, March 23, 2012, Marvin Smith

Xylophanes tersa WO, the Tersa Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale brown with lavender-gray at the base and has dark brown lengthwise lines throughout.

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This page is brought to you by Bill Oehlke and the WLSS. Pages are on space rented from Bizland. If you would like to become a "Patron of the Sphingidae Site", contact Bill.

Please send sightings/images to Bill. I will do my best to respond to requests for identification help.

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.