Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Earl Byron, Ph.D., June 5, 2011; June 14, 2012
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, June 5, 2011.
Updated as per personal communication with James Simon (Eumorpha achemon); May 18, 2014

Sacramento County

Pachysphinx occidentalis, Sacramento, Sacramento County, California,
June 4, 2011, courtesy of Earl Byron, Ph.D..

Almost to the day, one year later, Earl encountered this pair of Pachysphinx occidentalis in copula.

Pachysphinx occidentalis, Sacramento, Sacramento County, California,
June 13, 2012, courtesy of Earl Byron, Ph.D..

It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you have encountered. Please note I have no documentation for these moths in Sacramento County except as specificly noted. I do expect, however, that they are likely present, based on sightings reported to me in nearby counties and generally accepted range.

James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America is an excellent resource.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Earl Byron, Ph.D., Senior Technologist/Aquatic Science, CH2M HILL, Sacramento, California.

Earl identified and sent me the image of the Pachysphinx occidentalis, found (June 4, 2011) In Sacramento, under a poplar tree.

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.

May thanks to James Simon who sends the following image of Eumorpha achemon.

Eumorpha achemon, Sacramento, California,
May 15, 2014, courtesy of James Simon.

James writes, "These photos were taken just under a grape vine on the ground in the morning. It was very still and didn't mind our handling for a while. It eventually flew back down to the ground and we left it alone.

"We noticed the pinkish color at the base of the wings but didn't get a photo of the color. Your site said that there were no Sacramento sightings so I thought if we had this right it would be of interest."

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 have probably encountered it. Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant. possibly

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, 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, the Sequoiae Sphinx

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

Sphinx vashti, 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 EB, 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.

Pachysphinx occidentalis, Sacramento, June 4, 2011, courtesy of Earl Byron, Ph.D.

Smerinthus cerisyi, 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 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, (JS)

This moth is now officially recorded for Sacramento County, and it should be present wherever grapes are found. Flight would be from May to August. Larvae feed on grape foliage.

Eumorpha achemon, Sacramento, May 15, 2014, James Simon.

Macroglossini Tribe:

Arctonotus lucidus, the Pacific Green Sphinx Moth or Bear Sphinx

This species is confirmed in Contra Costa County.
It tends to be an late 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 in LA county.

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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