Inspired by and dedicated to Jim Jones, July 2008
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, August 13, 2011
Updated as per BAMONA, August 13, 2011
Updated as per personal communication with Jim Pendleton and Dianne Poore, Eumorpha achemon, Erie, Boulder, August 20, 2012

Boulder County, Colorado

Sphingidae

Pachysphinx occidentalis, Boulder County, Colorado, July 12, 2008, courtesy of Jim Jones.

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke at oehlkew@islandtelecom.com
Comments, suggestions and/or additional information/sightings are welcomed by Bill.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Jim Jones who sent the image of the Pachysphinx occidentalis pair at top of the page.

Jim writes July 15, "Found these 7/12/2008 in the morning; they left about 10 PM.

"Boulder, Colorado

The pupa shell (below) I found in the back yard resembles the one on your site. Not sure if it's related though."

Pachysphinx occidentalis, empty pupal shell, Boulder County, Colorado,
July 12, 2008, courtesy of Jim Jones.

Most of the Sphingidae pupate underground, sometimes to a depth of six to eight inches. It is believed they wiggle to surface when eclosion is imminent, and then emerge from there. Jim's photo of the empty pupal shell supports this belief.

It would be interesting if he could actually find the exit hole and prod with a piece of straw to find the hole's length/depth.

Many thanks to Jim Pendleton and Dianne Poore who provide the following image of Eumorpha achemon.

Eumorpha achemon, Erie, Boulder County, Colorado,
August 20, 2012, courtesy of Jim Pendleton and Dianne Poore.

Thirty-three Sphingidae species are listed for Colorado on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Boulder County (seventeen are reported on U.S.G.S. as of July 2008). It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you are likely to encounter.

A "WO" after the species name indicates that I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present, although unreported. A "BAMONA" indicates the moth is confirmed on USGS site (now BAMONA).

Please help me develop this list with improved, documented accuracy by sending sightings (species, date, location), preferably with an electronic image, via email to Bill Oehlke.

Please also submit sightings to BAMONA, an excellent online resource, via link to left or top of page.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Ceratomia amyntor WO, the Elm Sphinx or Four-horned Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is brown with dark brown and white markings including a white costal area near the wing base, dark streaks along the veins, and a white spot in the cell. edge of range

Ceratomia undulosa BAMONA, the Waved Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale brownish gray with wavy black and white lines and a black-outlined white cell spot.
It is named for the wavy lines on the forewings.

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

This large bodied moth flies in tobacco fields and vegetable gardens (potatoes, tomatoes) and wherever host plants are found. edge of range

Manduca sexta WO, the Carolina Sphinx

If you grow tomatoes, you may have encountered it, but it has not been officially reported in La Plata County.

Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant. edge of range

Sphinx asellus WO, the Asella sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale silver-gray with a series of black dashes, a white patch at the tip, and a white stripe along the outer margin. The upperside of the hindwing is black with blurry white bands. edge of range

Sphinx chersis WO, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx

Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx dollii WO, the Doll's sphinx

Sphinx dollii (Wing span: 1 3/4 - 2 1/2 inches (4.5 - 6.3 cm)), flies in arid brushlands and desert foothills from Nevada and southern California east through Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico to Oklahoma and Texas. (possibly in western Boulder County)

Sphinx drupiferarum BAMONA, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

Forewings, long and slender, are held close to the body when the moth is at rest. The costal and terminal areas of the forewing are much lighter than slate grey colouration of the rest of the wing.

Sphinx gordius BAMONA, the Apple Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing ranges from brown with black borders through brownish gray with paler borders to pale gray with no borders. Dashes, submarginal line, and cell spot are usually weak.

Sphinx luscitiosa WO, the Canadian Sphinx or Clemen's Sphinx

Forewing upperside is yellowish gray in males and pale gray with a faint yellow tint in females (female to left). Dark border on outer margin widens as it approaches inner margin. Hw upperside is deep yellow in males, pale yellow in females, both with wide dark border.

Sphinx perelegans USGS, probably confused with Sphinx vashti. I doubt Sphinx perelegans is present anywhere in Colorado.

Sphinx separatus WO, the Separated Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is dark gray with black and light gray wavy lines. The upperside of the hindwing is black with a brownish gray border and two white bands.

Sphinx vashti WO, the Snowberry Sphinx,

Snowberry Sphinx adults fly as a single brood in montane woodlands and along prairie streamcourses from April to August.
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.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx modesta BAMONA, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx,

This moth has a large, heavy body, and females can be remarkably plump. Lines are blurred, less distinct than in P. occidentalis.

Pachysphinx occidentalis JJ/BAMONA, 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, Boulder, July 12, 2008, Jim Jones

Paonias excaecata BAMONA, the Blinded Sphinx,

The outer margin of the forewing is quite wavy. There is a dark cell spot and a dark oblique line mid wing from the costa almost to the inner margin. Basic ground colour is pinkish brown.

Flight would be June-July.

Paonias myops BAMONA, the Small-eyed Sphinx

Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution.

Smerinthus cerisyi BAMONA, 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.

Smerinthus jamaicensis BAMONA, the Twin-spotted Sphinx

This moth is widely distributed and fairly common.

Along the East Coast, it flies from P.E.I. to Florida. It is less common in the southwest.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Erinnyis ello BAMONA, the Ello Sphinx

This species is reported in Boulder County, but would likely only be there as a migrant stray from further south.
Males and females differ.

Hemaris diffinis BAMONA, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth
Hemaris diffinis is a very variable species, but almost always the abdomen sports contrasting black and yellow hairs, the ventral surface being quite black. The legs also tend to be quite dark and there is a black mask running across the eye and along the sides of the thorax.

Hemaris senta, BAMONA, Rocky Mountain Clearwing Moth
These moths, possibly just a form of diffinis or actually thetis, 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.

Hemaris thetis, WO, Thetis Clearwing Moth
These moths, possibly just a form of diffinis, 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. generally in western Colorado

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon BAMONA/JP/DP, the Achemon Sphinx

Adults nectar from flowers of Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), petunia (Petunia hybrida), mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius), and phlox (Phlox). Fight would be from June to August. Larvae feed on grape foliage.

Eumorpha achemon, Erie, August 20, 2012, Jim Pendleton and Dianne Poore.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis BAMONA, the Nessus Sphinix

This day flier is widely distributed. If you have Virginia Creeper, you probably have the Nessus Sphinx.

Two bright, distinct, narrow yellow bands are often visible on the abdomen.

Darapsa myron WO, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx
The forewing upperside is dark brown to pale yellowish gray, with an olive tint, sometimes quite green. On the costal margin there is a dark rectangular patch, although this may be reduced or absent. The upperside of the hindwing is pale orange.

Euproserpinus wiesti WO, Prairie Sphinx or Wiest's Primrose Sphinx: Black body with white band on abdomen. FW upperside gray-brown; median area has black lines and gray band; underside white with black o. m.. Hw upperside yellowish white with narrow black o. m., black at base.

Hyles euphorbiae WO, the Spurge Hawk Moth
The body is light brown with various white and dark brown markings, while the wings have a conspicuous tan, brown, and pink or red color pattern. Range is spreading.

Hyles gallii WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx
This species is not reported in your county, but it may be present, as it is reported in northern CO.

Some years I see them on P.E.I., some years, I do not.

Hyles lineata BAMONA, the White-lined Sphinx
The forewing upperside is dark olive brown with paler brown along the costa and outer margin, a narrow tan band running from the wing tip to the base, and white streaks along the veins. The hindwing upperside is black with a reddish pink median band.

Proserpinus juanita BAMONA, the Juanita Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale gray-green with a deep green-brown median area and a white dash at the wing tip.




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