This page is dedicated to
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
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
Please help me develop this list with improved, documented accuracy by
sending sightings (species, date, location), preferably with an
image, via email to
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.
This large bodied moth flies in tobacco fields and vegetable gardens
(potatoes, tomatoes) and wherever host plants are found.
This species has been recorded in Monterey
If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it.
Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.
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 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.
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.
This one is quite similar to Pachysphinx modesta, with modesta
being smaller and darker.
Moths should be on the wing from June-August.
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.
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.
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.
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.
HS/LH/USGS, the Pacific Green
Sphinx Moth or Bear Sphinx
This species is confirmed in Monterey
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 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
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
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.
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.