Created/dedicated as per personal communication with K. G., July 27, 2011
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 27, 2011

Lake County, California

Paonias excaecata, Lake County, California, July 26, 2011, courtesy of K. G. and son.

This page is dedicated to K. G. and her son who found a Paonias excaecata female on July 26, 2011, in Lake County, California.

C. G. writes, "Hi how are you? My son found a really nice Sphinx Moth that he named Mothra. We have it in a large spice jar that has holes in the lid for air. We kept it outside last night and found that it laid eggs. What do we do now?

"My son wants to watch the eggs become pupae, then eventually hatch. What do we do to make this happen?

"The eggs are just lying in the bottom of the jar, do we just leave them there, will they become pupae just like they are or do we need to do something else? Right now the jar is the house at room temp. See attached photo's. Thank you, I hope you can help us!"

I reply: "Hi K. G.,

"The eggs will probably hatch about 8-11 days (sooner if kept warm) from when they were deposited. Then the caterpillars will eat for about 4-5 weeks before it is time for them to pupate. You can read an article I put together about rearing luna moths and these eggs and larvae can be treated pretty much the same way:

"You should also read the article at

I suggest that you probably have plenty of eggs already, more than you or he really want to look after, so it would be a good idea to release the moth after dark this evening.

"It is Paonias excaecata, the Blinded Sphinx.

Please also read the accounts of my rearing of both Paonias excacata and Smerinthus cerisyi via the links on this page." It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you have encountered.

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, 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, the Carolina Sphinx

If you grow tomatoes, you might encounter it. Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.

Sphinx chersis, 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, 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, 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, the Sequoiae Sphinx

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

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx occidentalis , 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 KG, 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 excaecata, July 26, 2011, K. G. and son

Smerinthus cerisyi, Cerisyi's Sphinx or One-eyed Sphinx.Larvae feed on poplars and willows. Flight would be from late May-July as a single brood. Probably this species is replaced by Ophthalmica in northern and central CA.

Smerinthus opthalmica. 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.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini Tribe:

Hemaris thetis, 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, the Achemon Sphinx

It should be present wherever grapes are found.

Fight would be from June to August. Larvae feed on grape foliage.

Macroglossini Tribe:

Arctonotus lucidus, the Pacific Green Sphinx Moth or Bear Sphinx

This species is confirmed in Tehama County by Rodger Harris, January 9, 2007.
It tends to be an early winter-early spring flier, on the wing in the early evening. It comes to lights at night.

Hyles lineata, 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, 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.

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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