Santa Barbara County
Smerinthus cerisyi male (possibly saliceti), August 6, 2005, courtesy of
This page is inspired by Julie Simpson,
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology,
University of California,
Santa Barbara, California. Julie sent me the Smerinthus cerisyi
images top and bottom of the page.
Thirty-two Sphingidae species are listed in the USGS for
California. Not all of the species are reported by USGS
or anticipated in Santa Barbara County (twelve species reported).
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 Santa Barbara County, but I
(William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be 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.
Please help me develop this list with improved, documented accuracy by
sending sightings (species, date, location), preferably with an
image, via email to
Sphinx chersis, Sphinx perelegans and Sphinx vashti are
quite similar. Note the dark upper thorax with wide black bars
extending to the abdomen on the image of Sphinx perelegans.
In Sphinx chersis the entire thorax is uniform
light blue-grey with very narrow dark lines.
Sphinx vashti lacks the checkered fringe on the
This species has been reported in Santa Barbara County, probably as a
The moth is a very strong flier and is frequently encountered far
north of its usual
This large bodied moth flies in tobacco fields and vegetable
gardens (potatoes, tomatoes).
Although not reported in S.B.C. by USGS, I suspect it is present.
This species is recorded in Santa Barbara
County, and it has been reported in to the north and east.
If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it.
Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.
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.
This species is not recorded in Santa Barbara County, but may
be present, although unlikely.
Adults fly as a single brood in the desert and in pinyon-juniper
woodland from May to August.
Snowberry Sphinx adults fly as a single brood in montane woodlands and along prairie
streamcourses from April to August, usually further
north and east.
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 at the apex.
This one is quite similar to Pachysphinx modesta, with modesta
being smaller and darker.
Moths should be on the wing from June-August.
USGS/JS, the Cerisyi's
Sphinx or One-eyed Sphinx,
Larvae feed on poplars and willows.
Flight would be from late May-July-early August as a single brood.
This species is more likely to occur as a rare stray
rather than as a breeding resident.
If present at all, it would be seen later in the season,
The abdomen has very distinct gray and black bands. It is
recorded from Santa Barbara County.
Adults nectar at dusk so you
may see them in the garen at that time.
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 USGS, 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.
This moth is not recorded for Santa Barbara County,
but is likely be present wherever grapes are found.
Fight would be from June to August. Larvae feed on grape foliage.
USGS, the Pacific Green
Sphinx Moth or Bear Sphinx
This species is confirmed in
Santa Barbara 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 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. It is unlikely in Santa Barbara County
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
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 nearby 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.
Smerinthus cerisyi male, August 6, 2005, courtesy of
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.
Use your browser "Back" button to return to the previous page.
This page is brought to you by
Bill Oehlke and the
WLSS. Pages are on space rented from Bizland. If you would like
to become a "Patron of the Sphingidae Site", contact Bill.
Please send sightings/images to Bill. I will do my best to respond to
requests for identification help.
Show appreciation for this site by clicking on flashing butterfly to the left.
The link will take you to a page with links to many insect sites.