Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Kat B., August 6, 2014; August 7, 2014
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, August 7, 2014
Updated as per BAMONA; August 7, 2014

Polk County, Florida
Sphingidae

Manduca rustica, Davenport, Polk County, Florida,
September 23, 2012, courtesy of Kat B.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Kat B. who sent me the image of Manduca rustica at the top of this page. Kat also sent me an image of a dark prepupal larva that was either Manduca rustica or Ceratomia undulosa from nearby Orange County.

Sixty-six Sphingidae species are listed for Florida on the BAMONA website as of August 7, 2014. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Polk County. Two of those species Protambulyx carteri and Protambulyx strigilis are generally regarded as synonyms of the same species with P. strigilis having precedence.

Sixteen Sphingidae species, Agrius cingulata, Lapara coniferarum, Manduca rustica, M. sexta, Paonias myops, Enyo lugubris, Hemaris thysbe, Madoryx pseudothyreus, Eumorpha fasciatus, E. labruscae, E. pandorus, Amphion floridensis, Darapsa choerilus, D. myron, Hyles lineata, Xylophanes tersa, are reported for Polk County on BAMONA as of August 7, 2014.

It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you are likely to encounter.

I (William Oehlke) have listed below many additional species that I expect are present or might be present, despite no confirmed reports for Polk County.

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.

Visit Polk County Sphingidae larvae (CATERPILLARS; HORNWORMS).

Visit Florida Catocala (UNDERWING MOTHS).

If you are travelling, you can find active Sphingidae checklists for all countries in North, Central, and South America and the Caribbbean via the links at North, Central, South American Sphingidae checklists

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, 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 amyntor generally more northerly, Elm Sphinx; Four-horned Sphinx. 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, Catalpa Sphinx. 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, Waved Sphinx. Pale brownish gray (occasionally dark) 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, Giant Sphinx. 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. (generally more southerly

Dolba hyloeus, 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. 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, 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, Five-spotted Hawkmoth. If you grow tomatoes, you might encounter Manduca quinquemaculatus.

Manduca rustica, 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 rustica, Davenport, September 23, 2014, Kat B.

Manduca sexta, 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, 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, Northern Ash Sphinx; 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, 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, 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. The female is different.

Pachysphinx modesta 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, 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, Small-eyed Sphinx. Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing. I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as southern Florida.

Smerinthus jamaicensis generally more northerly, 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

Protambulyx strigilis, Streaked Sphinx: The inner margin of the forewing is indented. 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. Listed as carteri on BAMONA.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos tantalus stray from further south, 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, Mournful Sphinx. 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, 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, 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, Obscure Sphinx.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, 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 generally more northerly, Snowberry Clearwing; Bumblebee Moth. 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, 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.

Madoryx pseudothyreus, 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.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon, 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, 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 intermedia, 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, 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 pandorus, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, the Hydrangea Sphinx. If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you might have the Hydrangea Sphinx.

Hyles lineata, 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, 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, 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.

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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