Created/dedicated as per personal communicationm wtih Donna Peters (Erinnyis ello), November 10, 2008
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, November 2008
Updated as per personal communication with Margherite Tercovich (Eumorpha fasciatus, September 24, 2013): September 25, 2013

Brevard County, Florida
Sphingidae

Erinnyis ello male, Indialantic, Brevard County, Florida,
November 10, 2008, courtesy of Donna Peters.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Donna Peters who sent me the image of Erinnyis ello at the top of this page. Donna enountered this insect in its larval stage, was successful in getting it to pupate, and then she and her son enjoyed the release of the adult moth less than one month later.

Donna writes, "The caterpillar you identified for me as Erinnyis ello emerged today and was released this evening. I have attached a photo. It vibrated its wings on the potted plant for about five minutes, Then flew away over the house. My seven year old son loved it. Thanks again!"

Sixty-five Sphingidae species are listed for Florida on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Brevard County (Eight species are reported on U.S.G.S. as of november 11, 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 have no confirmed reports of this species in Brevard 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 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 Bill Oehlke.

The USGS website has become the BAMONA website. Please also forward your sightings to BAMONA, an excellent online resource.

The night-blooming moon flower will attract many Sphingidae at dusk and into the night.

Many thanks to Margherite Tercovich who sends the following image of Eumorpha fasciatus.

Eumorpha fasciatus, Merritt Island, Brevard County, Florida,
September 24, 2013, courtesy of Margherite Tercovich.

Visit Brevard County Sphingidae: Larvae (caterpillars).

Visit Florida Catocala: Underwing Moths.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, WO Pink-spotted hawkmoth, stray: Strong migrant, adults nectar from deep-throated flowers including moonflower (Calonyction aculeatum), morning glory (Convolvulus), honey suckle (Lonicera), petunia (Petunia species).

Ceratomia amyntor WO, Elm Sphinx, Four-horned Sphinx: Brown with dark brown and white markings including white costal area near wing base, dark streaks along veins, white spot in cell. Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), and cherry (Prunus). unlikely, more northerly

Ceratomia catalpae WO, Catalpa Sphinx: Yellowish brown with no white markings, except indistinct black lines, dashes. Cell spot gray with lack outline.Larvae feed in large groups, much more spectacular than the moths. Catalpa is larval host.

Ceratomia undulosa WO, Waved Sphinx: Pale brownish gray (sometimes dark) with wavy black, white lines, black-outlined white cell spot. Hw: gray with diffuse darker bands.

Cocytius antaeus, WO Giant Sphinx: Blurry yellowish gray. Hw dark gray with yellow at base and dark "tooth" projecting from margin into translucent area between each vein. unlikely stray

Dolba hyloeus USGS, Pawpaw Sphinx: 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 wings.

Isoparce cupressi WO, Cypress or Baldcypress Sphinx: Rare, flies in Cypress swamps in Georgia (specimen type locality), and from Maryland to Texas. It has been reported in Mexico.

Lapara coniferarum USGS, Southern Pine Sphinx: Gray with two (sometimes one or three) black dashes near wing center; other markings usually diffuse. Hw uniform brown-gray. If you've got pines, likely present.

Manduca jasminearum WO, Ash Sphinx: 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.

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

If you grow tomatoes, you might encounter Manduca quinquemaculatus.

Manduca rustica WO, Rustic Sphinx: Three large yellow spots on each side of abdomen. Yellowish brown to deep chocolate brown with a dusting of white scales and zigzagged black and white lines.

Manduca sexta WO, Carolina Sphinx: If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered Manduca sexta in larval stage. Larvae can strip a tomato plant.

Paratrea plebeja WO, Plebeian Sphinx: 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 gordius WO, 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.

Sphinx kalmiae WO, Laurel Sphinx: The lower forewings are predominantly brownish-yellow with a fairly wide dark bar along the inner margin. At rest the wings hug the body, giving the moth a long slender look.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis USGS, Walnut Sphinx: Highly variable; sometimes wings all one color or may have several colors, ranging from pale to dark brown, may have white or pink tinge. Patterns range from faint to pronounced. Female: different.

Pachysphinx modesta WO, Modest Sphinx, Poplar Sphinx: They are common on Prince Edward Island, and are remote possibility for Brevard County.

Paonias excaecata WO, Blinded Sphinx: Named for dull grey-blue spot (minus dark pupil) in hindwing. I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as southern Florida.

Paonias myops WO, Small-eyed Sphinx: Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution. I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as southern Florida.

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, Twin-spotted Sphinx: This moth is widely distributed and fairly common. Along the East Coast, it flies from P.E.I. to Florida. slight possibility

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos tantalus USGS, Tantalus Sphinx: Body reddish brown with wide white band across abdomen. Fw: reddish brown with black cell spot, 3 white spots near gray marginal area. Pale streak runs from cell to inner margin.

Enyo lugubris, Mournful Sphinx: WO Body, wings: dark brown. Fw has large black patch covering most of outer half of wing. Pale tan cell spot (dark inner pupil), fairly straight median line to inside of cell spot.

Erinnyis alope WO, the Alope Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is dark brown with short yellowish streaks on the forward half and wavy yellowish bands on the rear half.

Erinnyis ello DP, Ello Sphinx: Abdomen has very distinct gray and black bands. Female's fw pale gray with afew dark dots near outer margin.

Erinnyis ello larva, Indialantic, October 15, 2008; moth, November 10, 2008, Donna Peters.

Erinnyis obscura, Obscure Sphinx, WO: 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. possibility

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris thysbe WO, Hummingbird Clearwing: Not difficult to see why many gardeners would mistake an Hemaris thysbe moth for a small hummingbird as it hovers, sipping nectar from flowers through long feeding tube.

Hemaris diffinis WO, Snowberry Clearwing: Adults mimic bumblebees, quite variable. Wings: basically clear, with dark brown to brownish-orange veins, bases, edges. Thorax golden-brown to dark greenish-brown. Abdomen tends to be dark (black) with 1-2 yellow segments before tip. unlikely

Hemaris gracilis WO, Slender Clearwing, Graceful Clearwing: Day-flying moth, less common.

Phryxus caicus, Caicus Sphinx, USGS: The abdomen of the Caicus sphinx has distinct black and tan bands. Forewing is brown with a tan band along the inner margin and a thin tan streak in middle of wing. stray

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, Achemon Sphinx: Larvae get large and feed on grape vines and Virginia creeper. Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx.

Eumorpha fasciatus USGS/MT, Banded Sphinx: Dark pinkish brown. Each forewing has lighter brown band along costa, sharp pinkish white bands and streaks. Primrose-willow, Ludwigia (water primrose) and other plants in evening primrose family.

Eumorpha fasciatus, Merritt Island, September, 24, 2015, Margherite Tercovich

Eumorpha intermedia WO, Intermediate Sphinx: Flies in lower austral and subtropical lowlands in North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Texas.

Eumorpha labruscae WO, Gaudy Sphinx: The Gaudy Sphinx flies in America, and although primarily a tropical species, it has been taken as far north as Saskatchewan as a stray. possible stray

Eumorpha pandorus WO, Pandorus Sphinx: If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you probably have this species. I often get asked to identify larvae from areas not previously reported.

Eumorpha vitis WO, Vine Sphinx: The upperside of the moth is dark pinkish brown. Each forewing has a lighter brown band along the costa, and sharp pinkish white bands and streaks. possible stray

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, 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 choerilus WO, Azalea Sphinx: The lower wings of this hawkmoth are a solid brownish-orange, matching the body colour. You will often see this species listed as Darapsa pholus, especially in older literature.

Darapsa myron WO, Virginia Creeper Sphinx, Grapevine Sphinx: If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this species nearby. The lower wings are orange.

Darapsa versicolor WO, Hydrangea Sphinx: If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you might have the Hydrangea Sphinx.

Hyles lineata WO, White-lined Sphinx: Dark olive brown with paler brown along costa and outer margin, narrow tan band running from wing tip to the base, white streaks along veins.

Sphecodina abbottii WO, Abbott's Sphinx: This moth is very much under reported across the United States. It is a rapid day flier so is probably not in too many collections. Grape is a popular larval host. unlikely, more northerly

Xylophanes tersa USGS, Tersa Sphinx: The upperside of the forewing is pale brown with lavender-gray at the base and has dark brown lengthwise lines throughout. This moth is a strong migrant.

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.

Eggs of many North American species are offered during the spring and summer. Occasionally summer Actias luna and summer Antheraea polyphemus cocoons are available. Shipping to US destinations is done from with in the US.

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