Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America; April 7, 2009
Santa Clara County
San Mateo County, June 14, 2005, Todd Bomont
Todd Bomont of San Mateo County (very close to Santa Clara border), California,
sent me the image of the Hyles lineata larva depicted above
from the mid penninsula of the San Francisco Bay area near Palo Alto.
Owen Holt (OH) of San Jose, Santa Clara
Hyles lineata, Hemaris diffinis, Manduca sexta,
Eumorpha achemon and Sphinx perelegens, and sends this beautiful image of
Hemaris thetis, Mt. Hamilton, Santa Clara County, CA,
Many thanks to Laurie Weber who sends the following image of Smerinthus cerisyi.
May 20, 2009, 2000 foot elevation, courtesy of Owen Holt.
Smerinthus cerisyi, Gilroy, Santa Clara County, California,
April 4, 2009, 1600 feet, couortesy of Laurie Weber.
Thirty-two Sphingidae species are listed in the USGS for
California. Not all of the species are reported by USGS
(nine species: Manduca quinquemaculata, Manduca sexta,
Sphinx perelegans, Smerinthus cerisyi, Hemaris diffinis,
Eumorpha achemon, Arctonotus lucidus, Proserpinus clarkiae
and Hyles lineata) are listed by the USGS for Santa Clara 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 Santa Clara 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.
Please help me develop this list with improved, documented accuracy by
sending sightings (species, date, location), preferably with an
image, via email to
This large bodied moth flies in tobacco fields and vegetable gardens
(potatoes, tomatoes) and wherever host plants are found.
Manduca sexta, August 1, 2005, Owen Holt
USGS/OH, the Carolina Sphinx
This species is recorded in Santa Clara
If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it.
Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.
WO, 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, June 22, 2001, Owen Holt
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.
WOQuestionable, the Sequoiae Sphinx
This species is not recorded in Santa Clara County.
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.
Smerinthus cerisyi, Gilroy, April 4, 2009, Laurie Weber
USGS/LW, the Cerisyi's
Sphinx or One-eyed Sphinx,
Larvae feed on poplars and willows.
Flight would be from early April - late May - July, probably as a single brood.
Might have a partial second brood
Hemaris thetis, Owen Holt
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.
Hemaris thetis, Mt. Hamilton, Santa Clara County, May 20, 2009, Owen Holt.
Eumorpha achemon, June 18, 2007, May 18, 2008, Owen Holt
This moth is recorded for Santa Clara County,
and it should 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 Clara
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, October 3, 1999, April 13, 25, 2008, Owen Holt
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.
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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