Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Ken Pauley, May 31, 2015.
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, May 31, 2015.
Updated as per Butterflies and Moths of North America, formerly USGS, May 31, 2015.

El Dorado County, California
Sphingidae

Eumorpha achemon, Georgetown, El Dorado County, California,
May 31, 2015, courtesy of Ken Pauley.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Ken Pauley who sent me image of Eumorpha achemon at top of this page.

Thirty-three Sphingidae species are listed on BAMONA for California as of May 31, 2015. Not all of the species are reported on BAMONA for El Dorado County. (Seven species are listed for El Dorado County as of May 31, 2015).

It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you have encountered.

A WO" after the species name indicates that I have no confirmed reports of this species in El Dorado County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present.

A BAMONA indicates the moth is reported on the BAMONA website and/or in Moths of Western North America, #2. Distribution of Sphingidae of Western North America, revised, 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 image, via email to Bill Oehlke.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

This large bodied moth flies in tobacco fields and vegetable gardens (potatoes, tomatoes) and wherever host plants are found.

Manduca sexta WO, Carolina Sphinx: Abdomen usually has six pairs of yellow bands, broken across back. Sixth set quite small. Fw upperside: indistinct black, brown, white markings. Hw upperside: banded black/white, with two black zigzag median lines very close together with hardly any white between them. Fw fringes white-spotted.

Sphinx chersis WO, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx The upperside of the forewing is soft dark-gray to blue-gray with a series of black dashes, one reaching the wing tip. Note grey thorax with narrow black lines.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, the Wild Cherry Sphinx. Forewings, long and slender, are held close to the body when the moth is at rest. I only see them occasionally on P.E.I. despite visiting lights frequently.

Sphinx perelegans BAMONA, the 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 sequoiae BAMONA, the Sequoiae Sphinx

Adults fly as a single brood in the desert and in pinyon-juniper woodland from May to August. generally more westerly

Sphinx vashti BAMONA, the Snowberry Sphinx

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 running inwards from the apex of the wing.
It is most often found in montane woodlands and along streamcourses.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx occidentalis WO, 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 WO, the Blinded Sphinx

The grey-blue eyespot (without a black center pupil) of the hindwing gives this species its name. Larvae feed on birches, willows, cherries and oaks.

The outer edge of the forewings is quite scalloped.

Paonias myops WO, the Small-eyed Sphinx

This small species might be present. This species ranges across North America.

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

Smerinthus cerisyi BAMONA, 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 ophthalmica WO.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. Dark patch near middle of forewing inner margin much more elongated toward body, compared to cerisyi.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini Tribe:

Hemaris thetis BAMONA, 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.

Philampelini Tribe:

Eumorpha achemon KP/BAMONA, the Achemon Sphinx. This moth should be present wherever grapes are found. Fight would be from late May to August. Larvae feed on grape foliage.

Eumorpha achemon, Georgetown, May 30, 2015, Ken Pauley.

Macroglossini Tribe:

Hyles lineata USGS, the White-lined Sphinx

Adults usually fly at dusk, during the night, at dawn, and during the day. Moths nectar at salvia and oviposit on Epilobium cana (California fuchsia) and Hooker's Evening Primrose.

Proserpinus clarkiae BAMONA, 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 lucidus WO, the Pacific Green Sphinx Moth or Bear Sphinx

This species is confirmed in nearby Butte County by Patience Hervey, December 29-30, 2005.
It tends to be an early winter-early spring flier, on the wing in the early evening. It comes to lights at night.




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. Read Actias luna rearing article. Additional online help available.

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