Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Yolanda Acevedo, August, 2006
Updated as per personal communication with Marc and Kurtis Cook, December 2008
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Yolanda Acevedo, July 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Lisa Mullen (Eumorpha fasciatus, Apollo, September 20, 2012); September 20, 2012

Hillsborough County, Florida
Sphingidae

Eumorpha fasciatus, Brandon, Florida, August 29, 2006, courtesy of Yolanda Acevedo.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Yolanda Acevedo who sent me the image of Eumorpha fasciatus at the top of this page. Yolanda has also sent what I was pretty sure is a Darapsa myron mexicana from Tampa, Florida, at the bottom of the page. However, Jean Haxaire indicates "it is not mexicana, but a pale form of myron."

Yolanda writes, "Don't know if you're still collecting data for your site (REALLY nice, by-the-way). I live in Brandon, FL - just east of Tampa in Hillsborough County. My daughters have come accross a Eumorpha fasciatus fasciatus in our front entryway yesterday morning. I believe now they understand that they should keep the screen door closed after they come into the entryway."

In January 2008, Yolanda send me an image of a Xylophanes tersa moth, sighted by her daughter at a school in Plant City.

Special thanks also goes to Marc and Kurtis Cook who sent me images of Eumorpha labruscae, December 29, 2007, from Plant City.

Eumorpha labruscae, December 29, 2007, Plant City, Hillsborough County, Florida,
courtesy of Marc and Kurtis Cook.

Eumorpha labruscae, December 29, 2007, Plant City, Hillsborough County, Florida,
courtesy of Marc and Kurtis Cook.

Marc writes, "The picture was taken at about 11 am in the morning December 29th 2007. We live in the extreme northeast corner of Hillsborough County, Florida. The moth was on our front porch. I gently handed it to my son Kurtis, and he held it for the picture. Just before it took off from his hand, it excreted some sort of clear liquid. It flew away very very fast. We are pleased to share this moth, and look forward to seeing the post on your web site."

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 Hillsborough County (Fifteen species 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 Hillsborough 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 night-blooming moon flower will attract many Sphingidae at dusk and into the night.

Many thanks to Lisa Mullen and her daughter who povide the following image of Eumorpha fasciatus the Banded Sphinx.

Emorpha fasciatus, Apollo Beach, Hillsborough County, Florida,
September 20, 2012, courtesy of Lisa Mullen and daughter.

Lis Mullen writes, "Hello! My daughter and I came across this moth at 10:30 a.m. today while checking our outdoor thermometer. It is on the back of the thermometer; it is a stick in the ground thermometer shaped like a flower. In the picture I have it out of the ground propped on a gate so we could see the moth well. We live in Apollo Beach, in Hillsborough County, Florida.

"We would love to know what it is. From your site it seems it may be a Banded Sphinx or a Vine Sphinx. We cannot agree! :). Hopefully you will be able to tell us what moth this is."

Thanks for thinking of me and sending the beautiful image of Eumorpha fasciatus, the Banded Sphinx. It is very similar to Eumorpha vitis the Vine Sphinx, but the Vine Sphinx always has the lower of the three subparallel thin white lines cutting through the much thicker off-white line so that there is a substantial brown trapezoid shape bordered by the two thick off-white lines and the lowest two thin white line. It is hard to describe, and usually goes unnoticed unless you know to look for that feature. I hope I have described it well enough for you to see it.

In the Vine.

In the Banded Sphinx, your sphinx, there is only a slight separation between the two thicker off-white lines, and the two lower thin white line only help to outline a very thin wedge.

I have placed a red rectangle around the thin brown wedge I refer to in fasciatus as bounded by two thin white lines and two much thicker off-white lines. If you visit the thumbnail of the Vine Sphinx much further below, you wil see a much more substantial brown area bounded by those same lines."

Emorpha fasciatus, Apollo Beach, Hillsborough County, Florida,
September 20, 2012, courtesy of Lisa Mullen and daughter.

Visit Hillsborough County Sphingidae larvae (CATERPILLARS).

Visit Florida Catocala (UNDERWING MOTHS).

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, WO/YA Pink-spotted hawkmoth, stray. This species is a strong migrant and adults nectar from deep-throated flowers including moonflower (Calonyction aculeatum), morning glory (Convolvulus), honey suckle (Lonicera) and petunia (Petunia species).

Agrius cingulata, July 18, 2008, Brandon, Hillsborough Co., Florida, courtesy of Yolanda Acevedo

Ceratomia amyntor WO, unlikely, generally more northerly, 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. Larvae feed on Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), and cherry (Prunus). unlikely

Ceratomia catalpae WO, the Catalpa Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is yellowish brown with no white markings, but there are indistinct black lines and dashes. The cell spot is gray with a black outline. The larvae feed in large groups and are much more spectacular than the moths.
Catalpa is the larval host.

Ceratomia undulosa WO, 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. The upperside of the hindwing is gray with diffuse darker bands.

Cocytius antaeus, USGS, stray The Giant Sphinx,

The upperside of the forewing is a blurry yellowish gray. The upperside of the hindwing is dark gray with yellow at the base and a dark "tooth" projecting from the margin into the translucent area between each vein.

Dolba hyloeus USGS, the 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, the Cypress or Baldcypress Sphinx

Isoparce cupressi, the rare Cypress Sphinx, flies in Cypress swamps in Georgia (specimen type locality), and from Maryland to Texas. It has been reported in Mexico.

Lapara coniferarum USGS, the Southern Pine Sphinx

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. If you've got pines, this species is likely present.

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

If you grow tomatoes, you might encounter Manduca quinquemaculata.

Manduca rustica USGS, the Rustic Sphinx

Look for three large yellow spots on each side of the abdomen. The upperside of the forewing is yellowish brown to deep chocolate brown with a dusting of white scales and zigzagged black and white lines.

Manduca sexta USGS, the Carolina Sphinx

If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered Manduca sexta in the larval stage.

Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.

Paratrea plebeja WO, the Plebeian Sphinx

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 chersis USGS, 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 of which reaches the wing tip.

Sphinx gordius WO, 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.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO, the Walnut Sphinx

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. Patterns range from faint to pronounced. See the file for the female; she is different.

Pachysphinx modesta WO, generally more northerly, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

They are common on Prince Edward Island, and are remote possibility for Hillsborough County.

Paonias excaecata USGS, the Blinded Sphinx

Named for the dull grey-blue spot (minus dark pupil) in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution in the eastern United States. I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as southern Florida.

Paonias myops WO, the Small-eyed Sphinx

Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is probably present in Seminole County.

I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as southern Florida.

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, generally more northerly, the 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, stray from further south, the Tantalus Sphinx

The body is reddish brown with a wide white band across the abdomen. The forewing upperside is reddish brown with a black cell spot and 3 white spots near the gray marginal area. A pale streak runs from the cell spot to the inner margin of the wing.

Enyo lugubris, the Mournful Sphinx, USGS

The body and wings are dark brown. The forewing has a large black patch covering most of the outer half of the wing. There is a pale tan cell spot (dark inner pupil), and a fairly straight median line to the inside of the 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 WO, the Ello Sphinx

The abdomen has very distinct gray and black bands. The female's forewing upperside is pale gray with a few dark dots near the outer margin.

Erinnyis obscura, the 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 two species.

Hemaris thysbe USGS, the Hummingbird Clearwing

It is 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 a long feeding tube.

Hemaris diffinis WO, generally more northerly, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth
Adults mimic bumblebees and are quite variable. The wings are basically clear, with dark brown to brownish-orange veins, bases and edges. The thorax is golden-brown to dark greenish-brown. The abdomen tends to be dark (black) with 1-2 yellow segments before the tip. unlikely

Hemaris gracilis WO, the Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing

This day-flying moth is less common and has not been recorded in Hillsborough County, but it may be present.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon USGS, the 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/YA/LM, the Banded 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. Larvae feed upon primrose-willow, Ludwigia (water primrose) and other plants in the evening primrose family.

Emorpha fasciatus, Apollo Beach, September 20, 2012, courtesy of Lisa Mullen and daughter.

Eumorpha intermedia WO, the Intermediate Sphinx
The Intermediate Sphinx Moth, (Eumorpha intermedia), (Wing span: 3 9/16 - 3 7/8 inches (9 - 9.8 cm)), flies in lower austral and subtropical lowlands in North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Texas.

Eumorpha labruscae WO/MC, the 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.

Eumorpha labruscae, December 29, 2007, Marc and Kurtis Cook

Eumorpha pandorus USGS, the 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 USGS, the 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.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, 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 choerilus WO, the 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 YA, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx

If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this species nearby. The lower wings are orange.

Darapsa myron pale form, YA, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx

If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you might have this species nearby. The lower wings are pinkish-orange. I was quite surprised by the pale colouration of this moth.

Darapsa versicolor WO, the Hydrangea Sphinx

If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you might have the Hydrangea Sphinx.

Hyles lineata WO, 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.

Sphecodina abbottii WO, the 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.

Xylophanes tersa USGS/YA, the 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.

Xylophanes tersa adult, January 2008, Plant City, Yolanda Acevedo.
Xylophanes tersa adult, July 2009, Brandon, Yolanda Acevedo.

Darapsa myron (pale form), Hillsborough River State Park in Tampa, Florida,
April 29, 2006, courtesy of Yolanda Acevedo.

Yolanda writes, "I collected this specimen at Hillsborough River State Park in Tampa, FL on April 29, 2006. I'm afraid camping tents don't make a good home for them in the Florida heat. This one was overcome by heat (or maybe one of our Pathfinders?) It measures 1 1/4 inches long (3.2 cm). The bottom wings have a pinkish tint to them."

Xylophanes tersa, Brandon, July, 2009, courtesy of Yolanda Acevedo.

You can visit checklists for other states and countries in North, Central and South America via the links at Sphingidae of the Americas.

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