Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Catherine C. Bowron, August 2010
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, August 2010

Lee County, Florida
Sphingidae

Aellopos tantalus, Lovers Key State Park, Lee County, Florida,
August 18, 2010, courtesy of Catherine C. Bowron.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Catherine C. Bowron, Administrative Assistant, Lovers Key State Park. Catherine sends the Aellopos tantalus image, top of page. Catherine writes, "Greetings Bill,

"I found your web site as I searched through the internet to identify this moth. Iíve not been successful, and thought you might be able to help. Iím sorry Iím not a better photographer Ė the smaller file has been cropped with Microsoft Office Picture Manager. Iím also just a layman, not knowing anything about specific families, species, etc. of moths or butterflies.

"The photo was taken at Lovers Key State Park in Lee County, Florida. Weíre located between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach on the Gulf of Mexico.

"This moth has been appearing almost every morning Ė from around 7:30 am until 8:30 am. Iíve only seen it feeding on the porter weed, and always hovers, so I havenít been able to capture the wing pattern. It appears to be some variety of either Aellopos or Hemaris, but I havenít been able to find a picture of one that looks like this one.

"Can you help identify it? Let me know if you need additional picturesÖ or other information, and Iíll do my best!"

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 Lee County (Twenty-seven species are reported on U.S.G.S. as of August 19, 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 have no confirmed reports of this species in Lee 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. Some species are difficult to identify; I am happy to try to help.

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

For care of "found larvae/caterpillars" visit Manduca sexta August 21, 2008, Trina Woodall.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, USGS Pink-spotted hawkmoth.

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).

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 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 WO, 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 jasminearum WO, the Ash Sphinx

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.

Manduca occulta WO, the Occult Sphinx
Manduca occulta can be differentiated from M. sexta which has 2/3 black, 1/3 white checkering on the forewing, while occulta has equal amounts of black and white checkering.
(very unlikely; rare stray)

Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS, 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.

Plebeian sphinx (Paratraea plebeja)

Smerinthini Tribe:

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 Broward County.

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

Protambulyx strigilis USGS, the Streaked Sphinx

The inner margin of the forewing is indented. The upperside of the forewing is pale yellowish gray in the pale form and reddish brown in the dark form. A dark submarginal line runs from the apex to the anal angle.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos tantalus USGS/CB, 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.

Aellopos tantalus hovering on porter weed, Lovers Key State Park, August 17, 2010, Catherine C. Bowron.

Callionima falcifera WO

This species is reddish, has falcate wings and flies after midnight.

It might be in Monroe County as a stray.

Cautethia grotei USGS, the Grote's Sphinx: The upperside of the forewing is pale silvery gray with black markings; in some moths the wing base may be very dark. The upperside of the hindwing is deep yellow-orange with a black border that covers less than half the wing. This species is rarely recorded in the U.S., but there are sightings from Florida, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

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 USGS, 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 crameri, the Cramer's Sphinx, USGS

The upperside of the abdomen is gray, without black bands, and the underside does not have black spots. The upperside of the forewing is dark brown, and may have pale yellow-brown patches along the inner edge.

Erinnyis ello USGS/, 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, USGS

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.

Eupyrrhoglossum sagra, the Cuban Sphinx,

The wide brown band down the center of the creamy-grey thorax and uppe rhalf of the abdomen, as well as the bright hindwing yellow band clearly distinguish this species.

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three 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 diffinisUSGS, 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 Lee County, but it may be present. generally more northerly

Madoryx pseudothyreus, the False-windowed Sphinx, USGS
The wing margins are scalloped. The upperside of the forewing is brown with dark brown and tan markings. The forewing has a V-shaped white spot near the center of the costa.

Perigonia lusca, the Half-blind Sphinx or Coffee Sphinx, WO

The wings and body are dark brown. The upperside of the forewing has darker median and submedian bands, and gray along the outer margin.

Phryxus caicus, the Caicus Sphinx, USGS

The abdomen of the Caicus sphinx has distinct black and tan bands. The upperside of the forewing is brown with a tan band along the inner margin and a thin tan streak in the middle of the wing.

Pachylia ficus, the Fig Sphinx, USGS
The upperside of the forewing is orangish brown with a paler patch along the costa at the tip.
The upperside of the hindwing is orange to orangish brown with a black outer border, a black median band, and a white spot on the outer margin near the body.

Pseudosphinx tetrio, the Tetrio Sphinx, USGS

The upperside of the forewing is dark brown with a dark spot at the base of the costa and blurry gray and white markings. The upperside of the hindwing is dark brown with white along the inner margin, and the lower half of the outer margin. big, colourful larva

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, 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.

Eumorpha labruscae USGS, 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. Forewings are a vibrant grey-green.

Eumorpha pandorus WO, 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.
Note positioning of lowest thin forewing white line (inside the thick center lines) as compared to E. fasciatus.

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.
Also note two small yellow patches in each concave region of the forewing fringe.

Darapsa myron WO, 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 versicolor WO, the Hydrangea Sphinx

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

Hyles lineata USGS, 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.

Xylophanes pluto USGS, the Pluto Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is olive green with a paler median band and pale lines with purple shading along them. The upperside of the hindwing has a white spot surrounded by black at the base, a wide orangish yellow median band, and a brown to greenish band along the outer margin.
The head and flared thorax of larva suggest the appearance of a snake.

Xylophanes porcus WO, the Porcus Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is olive-brown with lighter brown along the outer margin. The upperside of the hindwing is brown with some paler spots.

Xylophanes tersa USGS/DC, 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, south of Fort Myers, Feb. 22, 2012, David Cox

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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