Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, September 6, 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Julie Groves (Ceratomia undulosa, Denver, July, 2010); September 6, 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Rhonda Tucker (Eumorpha achemon), Denver, July 29, 2011; July 30, 2011
Updated as per personal communication with John B. Gilmore (Hyles lineata), Denver, June 20, 2012; July 3, 2012
Updated as per personal communication with Laura Culver (Hyles lineata, nectaring at Columbine in Denver, CO.; June 11, 2014)

Denver, Colorado


Ceratomia undulosa, Denver, Colorado,
July, 2010, courtesy of Julie Groves.

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 Julie Groves who sent the image of the Ceratomia undulosa moth at top of this page.

Julie writes September 5, "I found this moth in Denver, Colorado in July. It seems to resemble the dagger moth and the underwing moth but the secondary wings look just like the ones on top. Moth measures 2 inches. Any help is appreciated."

Many thanks also to Rhonda Tucker who sends this beautiful image of Eumorpha achemon from Denver.

Eumorpha achemon, Denver, Colorado,
July 29, 2011, courtesy of Rhonda Tucker.

Rhonda writes, "Hello! I found your website and was wondering if this is an Achemon Sphinx moth, Eumorpha achemon. He is outside on my house. I live in Denver, Colorado and have never seen anything like this. What a beauty!"

Many thanks to Laura Culver who provides the following image of Hyles lineata, nectaring on colombine.

Hyles lineata, nectaring on columbine, Denver, Colorado,
June 11, 2014, courtesy of Laura Culver.

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 Denver (fifteen are reported in nearby Arapahoe County on U.S.G.S. as of July 2010). 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 "USGS" indicates the moth is confirmed on USGS site for nearby Arapahoe County.

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.

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 USGS/JG, 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.

Ceratomia undulosa, Denver, July, 2010, courtesy of Julie Groves.

Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS, 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 USGS, the Carolina Sphinx

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

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 USGS, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx

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

Sphinx drupiferarum USGS, 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 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 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 USGS, 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 WO, 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 USGS, 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.

Paonias excaecata USGS, 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 WO, the Small-eyed Sphinx

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

Smerinthus cerisyi WO, 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 USGS, 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 WO, the Ello Sphinx

This species is not reported in Arapahoe County, and would likely only be there as a rare migrant stray from further south.
Males and females differ.

Hemaris diffinis USGS, Snowberry Clearwing; Bumblebee Moth: 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 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 USGS/RT, 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, Denver, July 29, 2011, Rhonda Tucker.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis USGS, 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.

Hyles lineata USGS/JBG/LC, White-lined Sphinx: Forewing upperside: dark olive brown with paler brown along costa and outer margin, narrow tan band running from wing tip to base, and white streaks along veins. Hindwing upperside: black with reddish pink median band.

Hyles lineata, Denver, June 20, 2012, John B. Gilmore
Hyles lineata, Denver, June 11, 2014, Laura Culver

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 Gallium Sphinx: Reported in northern CO.

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

Darapsa myron WO, Virginia Creeper Sphinx; Grapevine Sphinx: Forewing upperside: dark brown to pale yellowish gray, with olive tint, sometimes quite green. On costal margin there is dark rectangular patch, although this may be reduced or absent. Hindwing upperside: pale orange.

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

Proserpinus juanita USGS, 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.

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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