Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 9, 2009
Litchfield County, Connecticut
Sphinx kalmiae, New Milford, Litchfield County, Connecticut,
July 8, 2009, courtesy of Joe Merola.
This page is inspired by and dedicated to
Joe Merola who sent sighting/image of
Sphinx kalmiae from New Milford, July 8, 2009.
Joe writes, "The biggest moth I ever saw took refuge on my porch during a heavy
thunderstorm last night in New Milford, Litchfield County, CT.
"My guess from your site says it's a "Sphinx kalmiae, the Laurel
Sphinx". But the abdomen is slightly different than the shots on your
site. Please let me know what you think."
Thirty-seven Sphingidae species are listed for Connecticut on the
U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated
in Litchfield County
(Twenty-four are reported
on U.S.G.S.). 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 have no confirmed reports of this species in your county, but I
(William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or
might be present.
A "USGS" indicates the
moth is reported in Lepidoptera of North America,
#1. Distribution of Silkmoths (Saturniidae) and Hawkmoths (Sphingidae)
of Eastern North America,
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
electronic image, via email to
This species has been enountered in Hartford County
as a stray from much further south.
The moth is a very strong
flier and is frequently encountered far north of its usual range.
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.
The upperside of the forewing is yellowish brown with no white
markings, but there are indistinct black lines and dashes.
The larvae feed in large groups and are much more
spectacular than the moths.
Catalpa is the larval host.
The upperside of the forewing is pale brownish gray with wavy black
and white lines and a black-outlined white cell spot.
Note black and white collar separating thorax from abdomen.
The upperside of the forewing is dark brown with a dusting of white
scales. Some moths have patches of reddish or yellowish brown on the
The upperside of the forewing is gray with heavy black bands. The
upperside of the hindwing is brownish gray with no markings.
The upperside is of the forewing is gray with two (sometimes one or
three) black dashes near the wing center; other markings are usually
diffuse. The upperside of the hindwing is a uniform brown-gray.
This species is possibly present in Hartford County.
The upperside of the forewing is gray-brown with wavy lines, black dashes, and one or
two small white spots near the center of the costa.
The upperside of forewing is gray to grayish brown with a black line
running from the middle of the costa to the middle of the outer
margin; the line may be broken near the margin. There is a splash of
brown around the cell spot.
The moth abdomen usually has five but sometimes six pairs of yellow
bands. The upperside of the forewing is blurry brown and gray. If you
grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it.
The abdomen usually has six pairs of yellow bands, broken across the
back. The sixth set of markings is quite small.
The upperside of the forewing has indistinct black, brown, and white
Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.
The upperside of the forewing is gray with indistinct black and
white markings. There is a series of black dashes
from the base to the tip, and a small white cell spot.
Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not
often reported anywhere.
Larval hosts are white ash (Fraxinus americana) and blueberry
USGS, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash
The upperside of the forewing is soft dark gray to blue-gray with
a series of black dashes, one of which reaches the wing tip.
This species is not officially recorded, but I suspect it is
present. We have
them on P.E.I., but I do not see them nearly as frequently
as I see the other Sphingidae.
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 kalmiae, New Milford, July 8, 2009, Joe Merola.
This species is now confirmed in Hartford via
larva find by Joe Merola.
I have taken them on P.E.I., Canada, and reared them on
At rest the hindwings are usually completely covered.
the Canadian Sphinx or
The upperside of the forewing is yellowish gray in males and pale gray with a faint yellow tint in females. In both sexes, the dark border on the outer margin widens as it approaches the inner margin.
The upperside of the hindwing is deep yellow in males, pale yellow in females; both with a wide black border.
If you have blueberries in the woods, then you probably have the Poecila Sphinx.
They are pretty common here on Prince Edward Island, but don't fly
too far south of Massachusetts, being replaced by Sphinx gordius
in southern Connecticut.
The adults are also highly variable; sometimes wings of an individual
may be all one color or may have several colors, ranging from pale to
dark brown, and may have a white or pink tinge.
the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx
This moth has a large, heavy body, and females can be remarkably
plump. Generally found more to the north.
Paonias astylus, the Huckleberry Sphinx (wingspan 55-65 mm), ranges
from Maine south to Florida, west to Missouri and Mississippi.
It tends to be uncommon.
Named for the dull grey-blue spot in the hindwing, this moth has a
wide distribution and is probably common in Hartford County.
I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported
as far south as Florida.
USGS, the Small-eyed Sphinx
Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution
and is probably common in Hartford County.
I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as Florida.
This is one of the most common Sphingidae on Prince Edward Island. It flies south into the eastern US as far south as northern New Jersey.
This moth is widely distributed and fairly common so I suspect it is
in Hartford County.
Along the East Coast, it flies from P.E.I. to Florida.
USGS, the Hummingbird Clearwing
This interesting day flier is confirmed for Litchfield County.
They are widely distributed in the east from P.E.I. to Florida.
See Hemaris comparison.
The Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing
This day flier is not commonly reported, but may be present.
WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or
This moth is widely distributed and is probably found in Litchfield County.
This moth is not officially reported for Litchfield,
but it is fairly often reported
along the coast from southern New Jersey
to central Maine.
Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx.
If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you probably have
I often get asked to identify larvae from areas where they have not
previously been reported.
This day flier is widely distributed.
If you have Virginia Creeper, you
probably have the Nessus Sphinx.
Two bright, distinct, narrow
bands are often visible on the abdomen.
They are common in New Jersey and common
here on Prince Edward Island.
You will often see this species listed as Darapsa pholus,
especially in older literature. It is almost certainly present.
USGS, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx
This moth is recorded on the U.S.G.S. site for Hartford County.
It is widely reported as far north as southern Maine. If you have the
foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this
If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the
It has not been widely reported, however, and
probably is uncommon.
The moth's outer margin of the forewing is deeply scalloped.
The upperside is light brown with dark brown markings.
There is a small black and white spot near the tip.
USGS, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth
or Gallium Sphinx
This species is reported in Litchfield County.
Some years I see them on P.E.I., some years, I do not.
USGS, the White-lined Sphinx
This species is reported in Litchfield County.
It is a strong migrator from the south,
and there are records from the east, west and to the north.
This moth is very much under reported. It is a
rapid day flier so is probably not in too many collections.
Grape is a popular larval host.
This moth is much more common to the south. It is a strong migrant,
however and has been recorded in Litchfield County.
Sphinx kalmiae pupa, courtesy of Rebecca Gregory.
The pupa depicted above is very fresh and will darken
considerably over the next several days.
Rebecca writes, "I transfered the pupa into a
container of paper towels, and once winter draws near I will be
placing the container into the crisper container of my fridge
unless it proves to be too cold.
"I noticed in the links you sent me that the containers do not have
air holes..... will having them damage the pupae, or have any adverse
effects? Currentlly the container has them. I discourage
airholes as you want some humidity inside the storage container. With air holes,
you might lose too much moisture.
"Also how often, if at all, do you change the paper
towels in the container?" I check them once a month at best
make sure paper towels are limp and not dry and stiff. If towelling has
dried, I would add a drip or two of water. Everyone's fridge is a bit
different. I very seldom, if ever, change paper towels or add any
extra moisture to the storage containers.
Rebecca reports the adult moth emerged on
August 7, 2006, twenty-days after pupation.
Since there is a chance the pupa will not overwinter, but instead
emerge, trying for a second brood, the pupa should initially be
stored so that the emergent moth has a place to climb and hang and
inflate. Pre-fridge storage container may have airholes, but should
have some moisture added, especially if you are running an air
conditioner which removes much moisture from the air.
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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