Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, June, 2009

Manatee County, Florida
Sphingidae

Enyo lugubris, Anna Maria Island, Florida, November 20, 2006, courtesy of Juergen Lachmann.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Juergen Lachmann who sent me the image of Enyo lugubris at the top of this page.

Juergen writes, "Thanks to your page I was able identify the stealth bomber which was preparing for takeoff from my car on Nov. 20th at Anna Maria Island, FL 34217.

What a wonderful aerodynamical design!"

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 Manatee 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.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, WO 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).

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. 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 USGS, 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, WO 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 WO, 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 quinquemaculata 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 WO, 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 USGS, 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 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 USGS, 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, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

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

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

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, 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, generally more northerly

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. Both forms have a distinct submarginal line and a dark band along the indentation in the inner margin.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos tantalus WO, 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, JL

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

Eupyrrhoglossum sagra, the Cuban Sphinx, WO

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 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, 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 Manatee County, but it may be present. unlikely

Madoryx pseudothyreus USGS, the False-windowed Sphinx
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.

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.

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, 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 WO, 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. unlikely

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 WO, 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. unlikely

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.

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 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 myron pale form, WO, 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 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.

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. generally more northerly

Xylophanes tersa RG, 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 larvae, Sarasota Airport ( SRQ ), December, Richard Gaylord

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.

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

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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