Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, March 26, 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Dan Yokich; Smerinthus cerisyi, Los Angeles, April 14, 27, 2011
Updated as per personal communication with Tim Bonebrake (Hyles lineata, Hollywood, March 16, 2012); August 19, 2012
Updated as per personal communication with Dr. Andre Van Herle (Hyles lineata, Westwood, April 11, 2013); April 12, 2013
Updated as per personal communication with Terrie Morin (Eumorpha achemon, Lancaster, October 28, 2014); November 2, 2014
Updated as per personal communication with April Villescas (Hyles lineata, wilmington, March 27, 2015); March 30, 2015

Los Angeles County, California


Erinnyis ello female, Los Angeles County, California, courtesy of Clark Thompson.

This page is dedicated to Clark Thompson who has provided me with images and data for Catocala and Sphingidae species from California. Clark is also the moderator of Insectnet.com.

Many thanks to Dan Yokich who has sent me images of Smerinthus cerisyi from Los Angeles on April 14 and April 27.

Thirty-two Sphingidae species are listed in the USGS for California. Not all of the species are reported by USGS or anticipated in Los Angeles County.

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 Los Angeles County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present.

A USGS (now BAMONA) indicates the moth is reported on the USGS 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.

Please also send your sightings to BAMONA, an excellent on-line resource.

Many thanks also to Tim Bonebrake who sends the following image from Hollywood:

Hyles lineata, Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California,
March 16, 2012, courtesy of Tim Bonebrake.

Many thanks also to Dr. Andre Van Herle, M.D. who provides the folowing image with data.

Hyles lineata, Westwood, Los Angeles County, California,
April 11, 2013, courtesy of Dr. Andre Van Herle, M.D..

Hyles lineata must be fairly common in the spring in Los Angeles County:

Hyles lineata, Wilmington, Los Angeles County, California,
March 27, 2015, courtesy of April Villescas.

Visit Los Angeles County Sphingidae Larvae: Caterpillars; Hornworms

Visit California Catocala: Underwing Moths.

If you are travelling, you can find active Sphingidae checklists for all coutries in North, Central, and South America and the Caribbbean via the links at North, Central, South American Sphingidae checklists

Many thanks to Terrie Morin who sends the following image of Eumorpha achemon.

Eumorpha achemon, Lancaster, Los Angeles County, California,
October 28, 2014, courtesy of Terrie Morin.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata USGS. This species is enountered in Los Angeles County and in other southern California counties.
The moth is a very strong flier and is frequently encountered far north of its usual range.

Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS, 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 USGS, the Carolina Sphinx: This species is recorded in Los Angeles County. If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it. Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.

Sphinx chersis USGS, 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 of which reaches the wing tip.

Sphinx perelegans USGS, 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.

Sphinx sequoiae USGS, the Sequoiae Sphinx

This species is reported in Los Angeles County.

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

Sphinx vashti WO Questionable!, Snowberry Sphinx: Snowberry Sphinx adults fly as single brood in montane woodlands and along prairie streamcourses from April to August, usually further north. Upperside of forewing has narrow black subterminal line bordered by white inverted V-shaped line on outside, and black line at apex.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx occidentalis USGS, 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.

Smerinthus cerisyi USGS/DY, Cerisyi's Sphinx or One-eyed Sphinx, Larvae feed on poplars and willows. Flight would be mid April to late May-July as a single brood, possibly as two broods.

Smerinthus cerisyi, Los Angeles, April 14, 27, 2011, Dan Yokich.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini Tribe:

Erinnyis crameri, the Cramer's Sphinx, USGS: This species is more likely to occur as an occasional stray rather than as a breeding resident.
As a migrant stray it would be seen later in the season, July-August.

Erinnyis ello, Ello Sphinx, USGS: The abdomen has very distinct gray and black bands. Females lack the diffuse, oblique dark band on the forewing. Adults nectar at dusk so you may see them in the garen at that time.

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.

Philampelini Tribe:

Eumorpha achemon USGS/TM, the Achemon Sphinx. This moth is reported for Los Angeles County, and should be fairly common. Fight would be from June to August. The late October flight recorded by Terrie Morin is a surprise. Larvae feed on grape foliage.

Eumorpha achemon, Lancaster, October 28, 2014, courtesy of Terrie Morin.

Macroglossini Tribe:

Euproserpinus euterpe, the Euterpe Sphinx, WO: Euproserpinus euterpe adults fly in pastures and fallow fields as a single brood from late January-February-April. They nectar at flowers of filaree (Erodium) and Nemophila during the warm parts of the day. This species is listed as "threatened" in its known range.

Euproserpinus phaeton, the Phaeton Primrose Sphinx, USGS. Adults nectar at flowers during the warm parts of the day.
Euproserpinus phaeton adults fly swiftly and close to the ground over dry washes and flat areas in deserts as a single brood from February-April.

Hyles lineata TM/AvHAV, the White-lined Sphinx. Adults usually fly at dusk, during the night, at dawn, and during the day. Trish Meyer reports moths nectaring at salvia and ovipositing on Epilobium cana (California fuchsia) and Hooker's Evening Primrose.

Hyles lineata, Westwood, April 11, 2013, Dr. Andre Van Herle M.D.
Hyles lineata, Wilmington, March 27, 2015, April Villescas

Proserpinus clarkiae USGS, Clark's Sphinx, 4 Adults fly in the afternoon from March-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 USGS, Pacific Green Sphinx Moth; Bear Sphinx: This species is confirmed in Los Angeles County.
It tends to be an late 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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