Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Lynda, Erika & Emily Leatherwood, November 23, 2005
Updated as per ongoing personal communication with Evan Rand; see County checklists; 2008-2010
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, September 12, 2011
Updated as per personal communication with Leslie Bando, (Manduca sexta, Gilbert), September 12, 2011
Updated as per BAMONA, September 12, 2011
Updatred as per personal comunication with Nadia Smith (Tempe, Maricopa Co., Arizona, June 30, 2016); July 20, 2016

Maricopa County, Arizona


Manduca rustica, larva, courtesy of Lynda, Erika & Emily Leatherwood

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke at
Comments, suggestions and/or additional information/sightings are welcomed by Bill.

Visit Maricopa County Sphingidae Larvae = Caterpillars.

Visit Arizona Catocala = Underwing Moths.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Lynda, Erika & Emily Leatherwood, of Scottsdale, Arizona (Maricopa County).

Lynda writes (November 23, 2005):

"My girls and I have been "raising" this fellow for about a week now. I have researched and looked at every caterpillar picture I can find. We know it is a sphinx but are uncertain which one. The facts that are causing the confusion are his horn color and his eating habits.

He came out of our olive tree and that is his leaf of choice in his new "home". Have you ever heard of this? He is not alone in our tree and by the looks of the ground they have friends in our neighbor's olive tree as well. We have since found two more. One on the ground under the tree and one that had already turned brownish crawling down the tree.

"We would love your help! I've been told you need to know the location of the mystery critter. We live in Scottsdale, AZ. Currently two of the three are buried in the soil in their new habitats.

"My girls are anxiously awaiting their resurfacing. Any info on our new "pets" would be greatly appreciated."

Unfortunately I had to advise Lynda that this particular caterpillar appears to have numerous wounds from parasitic wasps. If that is the case, it might pupate, but it will never make it to the adult moth stage.

Sphinx chersis prepupal larva, Laveen, Maricopa County, Arizona, May 9, 2012,
courtesy of Christopher Seay and students at Vista Del Sur Traditional School.

Fifty-three Sphingidae species are listed for Arizona on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Maricopa County (seventeen are reported on U.S.G.S.; now BAMONA). It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you are likely to encounter.

Manduca quinquemaculatus, Peoria, Maricopa County, Arizona,
March 30, 2015, posted with permission.

A "WO" after the species name indicates that I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present, although unreported.

A "USGS" indicates the moth is confirmed on USGS site.

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.

Please also send your sightings to BAMONA, an excellent online resource.

Evan Rand of Phoenix, Arizona, shares his observations, the result of frequent light trapping in Maricopa County:

Paonias myops - Edge of Maricopa Co./Gila Co. 8/05 (rare only seen 1)
Pachysphinx occidentalis - Uncommon Both Maricopa Co. and Gila Co. From April to August
Eumorpha achemon - Maricopa Co. (rare only 1 in April)
Manduca sexta - Uncommon in Maricopa Co. (Mostly seen in late September, early October) Uncommon in Gila Co. (Late July/August), Common in Santa Cruz Co. (Late July/August)
Manduca rustica - Rare in Maricopa Co. (late September), uncommon in Santa Cruz Co.
Agrius cingulata- Rare in Maricopa Co. (late September)
Smerinthus cerisyi - Uncommon in Maricopa and Gila Co. (late July/early August)
Hyles lineata - Very common Maricopa, Yavapai, Gila, Pima, Santa Cruz Cos. (March to October). This species is extremely common almost everywhere, I've seen hundreds of individuals at a single light before, and thousands of larva crawling across the desert. It's hard to light trap anywhere between March and October and not get at least 1 H. lineata.

Many thanks to Leslie Bando who sends the following image of Manduca sexta.

Manduca sexta, Gilbert, Maricopa County, Arizona,
September 12, 2011, courtesy of Leslie Bando.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, USGS/ER--rare, Pink-spotted Hawkmoth
This moth is a very strong flier, and make its way to southern Arizona and southern California. It is confirmed for Maricopa County and neighbouring counties.

Ceratomia sonorensis, WO, Sonoran Sphinx. Fw fringes checkered black and white. Fw is dark gray with black bars and dashes and whitish patches. The upperside of the hindwing is dark brown with pale gray at the base and has two black transverse lines. slight possibility

Lintneria istar WO, Istar Sphinx
Fw dark gray with brown tinges. A series of narrow dashes runs from the tip to the cell spots, and a wide black band runs from the middle of the outer margin to the base of the wing. It flies to the east and to the south and might be present.

Lintneria separatus WO, the Separated Sphinx
Fw: dark gray with black and light gray wavy lines. The upperside of the hindwing is black with a brownish gray border and two white bands.good possibility

Manduca florestan WO
Fw: gray to yellowish gray to brown. The reddish brown patch just outside the cell and above the dashes is the most distinguishing character. good possibility

Manduca occulta WO, Occult sphinx
Manduca occulta can be differentiated from M. sexta which has 2/3 black, 1/3 white checkering on the forewing, while occulta has equal amounts of black and white checkering. possibility

Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS/NW/NS, Five-spotted Hawkmoth
This species is confirmed in Maricopa County, and has been seen in nearby counties. I suspect if you grow tomatoes, you are likely to encounter it.

Manduca quinquemaculatus, Peoria, March 30, 2015
Manduca quinquemaculatus, Tempe, June 30, 2016, Nadia Smith

Manduca rustica LL/ USGS/ER, the Rustic Sphinx

This species is officially recorded in Maricopa County, and it has been taken in other nearby counties. Look for three large yellow spots on each side of the abdomen.

Manduca sexta USGS/ER/LB, the Carolina Sphinx

This species is recorded in Maricopa County. If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it, though.

Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.

Manduca sexta, Gilbert, September 12, 2011, Leslie Bando.

Sagenosoma elsa WO, the Elsa sphinx

This species is not recorded in Maricopa County, but it is likely present. The upperside of the forewing has a wide white band along the costa from base to apex. The remainder of the wing has black and white bands.

Sphinx asella USGS, the Asella sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale silver-gray with a series of black dashes, a white patch at the tip, and a white stripe along the outer margin. The upperside of the hindwing is black with blurry white bands.

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

This species is reported in Pima. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx dollii WO, the Doll's sphinx

Sphinx dollii (Wing span: 1 3/4 - 2 1/2 inches (4.5 - 6.3 cm)), flies in arid brushlands and desert foothills from Nevada and southern California east through Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico to Oklahoma and Texas.

Sphinx libocedrus WO, the Incense Cedar Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale blue-gray to dark gray with a black dash reaching the wing tip and a white stripe along the lower outer margin.
The upperside of the hindwing is black with two diffuse white bands, the upper one being practically non-existent.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx occidentalis USGS/ER--uncommon, the Big Poplar Sphinx

This one is quite similar to Pachysphinx modesta, with modesta being smaller and darker.

Moths should be on the wing from June-August.

Paonias excaecata USGS, the 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 myops ER--rare, the Small-eyed Sphinx

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

Smerinthus cerisyi USGS/ER--uncommon, the Cerisyi's Sphinx or One-eyed Sphinx,

Larvae feed on poplars and willows.

Flight would be from late May-July as a single brood.

Smerinthus saliceti USGS, the Salicet Sphinx, flies in valleys and along streamsides from Mexico City north to west Texas, southern Arizona, and extreme southern California. Larvae feed on poplars and willows.
Flight would be from late April-September, probably as a double brood.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos clavipes WO, the Aellopos Sphinx.

The body is dark brown with a wide white band across the abdomen. Wings are dark brown. The forewing has a black cell spot and 3 white spots near the pale brown marginal area. possibility

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. possibility

Callionima falcifera WO
This species is reddish, has falcate wings and flies after midnight.


Enyo lugubris, the Mournful Sphinx, WO
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. possibility

Erinnyis alope, Alope Sphinx, WO
The upperside of the forewing is dark brown with short yellowish streaks on the forward half and wavy yellowish bands on the rear half.
The upperside of the hindwing is bright yellow with a wide dark brown border. possibility

Erinnyis crameri, the Cramer's Sphinx, USGS

The upperside of the abdomen is gray, without black bands, and the underside does not have black spots. The upperside of the forewing is dark brown, and may have pale yellow-brown patches along the inner edge.

Erinnyis ello USGS, the Ello Sphinx

This species is reported in Maricopa County and in other southern Arizona counties.
Males and females differ.

Erinnyis obscura, the Obscure Sphinx, USGS

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.

Hemaris thetis WO, the Thetis Clearwing or Bee Hawk 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.

Isognathus rimosa, the Rimosus Sphinx, WO
The upperside of female forewing is mostly gray brown on the front half and dark brown on the rear half while the upperside of male forewing is yellow gray or gray brown. Both sexes have wavy dark markings. The upperside of the hindwing of both sexes is yellow with an incomplete dark border on the outer margin. possibility

Pachylia ficus, the Fig Sphinx, USGS
Fw: orangish brown with a paler patch along the costa at the tip.
Hw: orange to orangish brown with a black outer border, a black median band, and a white spot on the outer margin near the body.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon USGS/ER--rare/SH, the Achemon Sphinx
This moth is officially reported for Maricopa County.
Eumorpha achemon larvae feed upon Grape (Vitis), Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and other vines and ivies (Ampelopsis).

Eumorpha achemon, Mesa, September 23, 2010, Sue Hakala.

Eumorpha satellitia WO, the Satellite Sphinx

The Satellite Sphinx Moth, Eumorpha satellitia satellitia flies in Jamaica and from Mexico to Ecuador and further south into Bolivia. possibility

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. possibility

Eumorpha vitis WO, the 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. The hindwing has a pink patch on the inner margin. possibility

Macroglossini tribe:

Hyles lineata USGS/ER--very common, the White-lined Sphinx

Larvae can be quite varied.

Proserpinus terlooii WO, the Terloo sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is uniform olive green with a darker median band. The upperside of the hindwing is red with an olive green border. possibility

Proserpinus vega WO, the Vega sphinx

Jim Tuttle writes, "P. vega has a very large and dark basal patch as the FW meets the thorax that is lacking in terlooii. There are also three prominent longitudinal stripes on the thorax of vega that are lacking in terlooii." possibility

Xylophanes falco USGS, the Falcon Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is orange-brown along the forward half, striped with dark brown and light brown along the rear half, with dark brown bands separating the two.

The upperside of the hindwing is pale brown with dark brown marginal and submarginal lines. rare stray

Enjoy some of nature's wonderments, giant silk moth cocoons. These cocoons are for sale winter and fall. Beautiful Saturniidae moths will emerge the following spring and summer.

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