Monterey

Sphingidae

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Thirty-two Sphingidae species are listed in the USGS for California. Not all of the species are reported by USGS (Eight species are reported by USGS: Clark's sphinx (Proserpinus clarkiae), Pacific green sphinx (Arctonotus lucidus), Snowberry clearwing (Hemaris diffinis), White-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata), Big poplar sphinx (Pachysphinx occidentalis) Elegant sphinx (Sphinx perelegans) Great ash sphinx (Sphinx chersis) One-eyed sphinx (Smerinthus cerisyi)) or anticipated in Monterey 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 Monterey County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present.

A USGS 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.

Some specimens were reported in the early Hastings Survey (HS), with most of the collecting done by Betty Davis in the 1950's-60's.

There are additions from the late Hastings Survey (LH), with most of the collecting done by Mark Stromberg, identifications by Frank Sala, reviewed by Jerry Powell.

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:

Agrius cingulata WO

This species has not been reported in Monterey County, but may be there as a very rare stray.

The moth is a very strong flier and is frequently encountered far north of its usual range.

Manduca quinquemaculata HS/LH, 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 LH, the Carolina Sphinx

This species has been recorded in Monterey County.

If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it. Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.

Sphinx chersis HS/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 reaching the wing tip. Note grey thorax with narrow black lines.

Sphinx perelegans LH/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. Note dark thorax.

Sphinx sequoiae WOQuestionable, the Sequoiae Sphinx

This species is not recorded in Monterey County, but it might be present.
Adults fly as a single brood in the desert and in pinyon-juniper woodland from May to August.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx occidentalis LH/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 HS/LH/USGS, 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.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini Tribe:

Hemaris diffinis LH/USGS, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee 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.

Hemaris senta HS, California clearwings have brownish-olive or olive-green heads and thoraxes. The abdomen, which has a broad yellow band, is black or olive-green above and yellow below. Their wings have a very narrow brown border and the clear parts of the wings have a steel-blue luster.

Philampelini Tribe:

Eumorpha achemon LH, the Achemon Sphinx

This moth is recorded for Monterey County, but it should be present wherever grapes are found.

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

Macroglossini Tribe:

Arctonotus lucidus HS/LH/USGS, the Pacific Green Sphinx Moth or Bear Sphinx

This species is confirmed in Monterey County.
It tends to be an late winter-early spring flier, on the wing in the early evening. It comes to lights at night.

Euproserpinus euterpe, the Euterpe Sphinx, WO ?? see below

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, WO ?? see below

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 HS/LH/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 in LA county.

Proserpinus clarkiae LH/USGS, 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.




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