Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, January 5, 2009

Monroe County, Florida
Sphingidae

Aellopos tantalus, Islamorada, Monroe County, Florida, December 22, 2008,
courtesy of Kevin and Shelby Heeter, id confirmed by James P. Tuttle.

Islamorada, "Village of Islands" is an incorporated village in Monroe County, Florida, on the islands of Lower Matecumbe Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Windley Key and Plantation Key in the Florida Keys.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Kevin and Shelby Heeter of Islamorada, Florida Keys. Shelby has been sending me beautiful images taken either by herself or by her husband Kevin.

Eupyrrhoglossum sagra, Islamorada, Florida Keys, December 22, 2008,
nectaring on corn plants (Dracaena fragrans), courtesy of Kevin Heeter, via Shelby Heeter.

Shelby writes, "Hi Bill,

"I have looked at many ID photos of the Tantalus Sphinx. My pictures seem to match all the markings except for the red on his butt. Does it have to do with all my photos are of flying moths and the ID ones I have found are not? Male/female? Or do I have the wrong ID? Photos taken in South Florida, (Islamorada). Thanks for your time and help."

I was not able to answer all of Shelby's initital questions, but James P. Tuttle confirmed the id of the Tantalus Sphinx at the top of the page.

Shelby adds, "We had four different species of Sphinx moths feeding almost every night for a week while those corn plants (Dracaena fragrans) were in bloom. Grote's, Cuban, Mournful and the photos I sent you. The date for the pictures you have is Dec 22, 2008. The moths came at about 5:30 and left by no later than 6pm each night."

"I also have the following Sphingidae from here in the Keys, Mournful, Ello, Gaudy, Obscure and Pluto Sphinx. You seem to have plenty of photos of those, but, if you want more information or photos for any reason, let me know."

It is great to have as many images and as much data as possible. I look forward to posting more images and data from Shelby and Kevin.

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 Monroe County (Twenty-three 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 MOnroe 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.

Shelby has sent many images of adult Sphingidae which have visited her Draceana fragrans in the evening or have been observed at lights at night. Many of those observed at the light, may have been attracted to her night blooming corn plant.

Shelby writes, "Regarding the Dracaena fragrans. I can only speak about growing it here in the Keys but it does very well outdoors with no care. Basically you plant it and water it until it's established. It needs no further care and it can take a few years to flower. It will get quite large, blooms at night and is very fragrant. I'm including a photo of it too."

Dracaena fragrans, corn plant, Islamorada, Florida, courtesy of Shelby Heeter.

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 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 occulta USGS, 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 quinquemaculata WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

If you grow tomatoes, you might encounter Manduca quinquemaculata.

Manduca rustica WO, 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. unlikely

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 carteri USGS, Carter's Sphinx

The forewing is indented at the inner margin and the upperside is yellow to orangish brown with faint markings and no dark submarginal line. equated with strigilis, James P. Tuttle, 2007, based on rearing results.

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/SH, 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 on Dracaena fragrans, December 22, 2008, Kevin and Shelby Heeter.

Callionima falcifera WO

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

It might be in Monroe County as a stray.

Enyo lugubris, the Mournful Sphinx, SH

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.

Enyo lugubris, Islamorada, November 25th to Dec 4th, 2009, Shelby Heeter

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/SH, 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 ello, November 23, December 22, 2008, Islamorada, Florida, Kevin and Shelby Heeter

Erinnyis obscura, the Obscure Sphinx, USGS/SH

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.

Erinnyis obscura, November 19, Islamorada, Florida, Kevin and Shelby Heeter

Eupyrrhoglossum sagra, the Cuban Sphinx, SH

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.

Eupyrrhoglossum sagra on Dracaena fragrans, December 22, 2008, Kevin and Shelby Heeter.
Eupyrrhoglossum sagra, Islamorada, November 25th to Dec 4th, 2009, Shelby Heeter

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, WO

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/Shelby Heeter , 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 labruscae, December 24, Islamorada, Florida, Kevin and Shelby Heeter

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

Cautethia grotei USGS/SH, 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.

Cautethia grotei on Dracaena fragrans, December 22, 2008, Kevin and Shelby Heeter.
Cautethia grotei on Lantana, Islamorada, December 22, 2008, Kevin and Shelby Heeter.

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/SH, 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 pluto, Lower Matecumbe, November 17, 2008, Kevin and Shelby Heeter.

Xylophanes porcus WO stray, 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, 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.

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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