Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, August 23, 2010
Updated as per Butterflies and Moths of North America website, formerly USGS, August 23, 2010
Dedicated as per personal communication with Elizabeth Burkholder (Sphecodina abbottii larva, July 20, 2014); July 22, 2014,br>
Winnebago County, Illinois
Sphecodina abbottii fifth instar, Winnebago County, Illinois,
July 20, 2014, courtesy of Elizabeth Burkholder.
This page is dedicated to Elizabeth Burkholder who provides the interesting image directly above.
Elizabeth writes, "We’re clearing understory in our once forested subdivision and came across the attached photo. unable to narrow search well enough to find a
single matching image off the Internet.
"One component of this clearing is pulling vines that travel up 60’ mature oak/black walnut/hickory --poison ivy and a couple of others as well-- so the caterpillar
could’ve fallen from above?
"Underside is pinkish and the creature whips quickly into a semi-C shape when touched. The false (?) eye seems to be to the tail end, but we’re unsure of that. It is
this eye-d end, however, that rises up almost snakelike, when the creature is touched or disturbed. it seems to be about 3.5” long and plump, smooth feeling.
It feels quite solid and has some density, more than the run-of-the-mill worm-type creature.
"We’d like to identify before releasing lest it be a problem for IL/WI. Another thought is that we’d feed it and house it and care for it through its adult stage.
"Any help is much appreciated. We have several other photos. Since yesterday, it’s been in a quart planting container, w/o lid, 1/2 full of native dirt with some
leaves tossed in.
"Thank you for your time."
"Hi Elizabeth, You have found a larvae of Sphecodina abbottii, the Abbott's Sphinx. It was probably feeding on one of the vines you mention
(wild grape, Boston ivy, virginia creeper, etc., but I don't think the poison ivy), and it may have descended on its own or fallen when disturbed.
It appears full grown so either scenario is a possiblity.
"Your instincts were good with the soil in a glass jar, but you can actually get Sphingidae to pupate without the soil. Visit the "Care of found Larvae" article
"You are also correct that the eyed end is the hind end.
"I am not sure if it will emerge as an adult moth later this year (two to four weeks from now) or if it will overwinter in the pupa stage.
"Very nice photo and interesting observations. Thanks for sharing.
"I have posted it above and will also post it on the Winnebago Sphingidae larvae page and link it from the abbottii file."
For care of "found larvae/caterpillars" visit Manduca sexta larva, central Texas,
August 21, 2008, Trina Woodall.
Visit Illinois Catocala: Underwing Moths
Visit Winnebago County Sphingidae Larvae: Caterpillars
Forty-two Sphingidae species are listed in the USGS for Illinois. Not all of the species are reported (only one, Hyles lineata,
by USGS as of August, 2010) in Winnebago County in northern Illinois. I have added some species which I feel may be present (at least occasionally).
It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you have encountered.
A "WO" after the species name indicates that I have no confirmed reports of this species in Winnebago County, but
I (William Oehlke) expect that these moths are present.
Please help me develop this list with improved, documented accuracy by sending sightings (species, date, location), preferably with an
image, via email to Bill Oehlke.
WO Pink-spotted hawkmoth,
possible but unlikely 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).
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
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 and the upperside of the hindwing
is yellowish brown with obscure lines.
Catalpa is the larval host.
Hagen's Sphinx or Osage Orange Sphinx
The upperside of the forewing is gray with a green tint and has dark
indistinct wavy lines, and pale gray patches at the wing tip and
along the costa.
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.
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
Larve are not limited to pawpaw.
Northern Pine Sphinx:
The upperside of the forewing is gray with heavy black bands. The upperside of the hindwing is brownish gray with no markings.
If you have pines, you
might have this species. It flies on P.E.I.
The upperside of the forewing is gray-brown with wavy lines, black dashes, and
one or two small white spots near the center of the costa.
WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth:
This large bodied moth flies in tobacco fields and vegetable gardens
(potatoes, tomatoes) and wherever host plants are found.
WO, the Carolina Sphinx:
The upperside of the hindwing is banded with black and white and has
two black zigzag median lines that are very close together with
hardly any white showing between them
Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.
WO Cluentius sphinx,
unlikely stray, but possible:
The upper side of the forewing is blurry black with orange
The upperside of the hindwing is black with orange at the
base and orangish yellow patches between the veins,
forming a band across the wing.
WO, unlikely stray, but possible.
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 canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere,
but it should be present in Winnebago County.
Larval hosts are white ash (Fraxinus americana) and blueberry
WO, 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.
WO, the Wild Cherry
Sphinx: Forewings, long and slender, are held close to the body when the
moth is at rest. We have them on P.E.I.,
but I do not see them nearly as frequently as I see the other Sphingidae.
Apple Sphinx: Colouration and markings are highly variable from one specimen to another.
The fringes on forewing are mostly black with some white; those on
the hindwing are mostly white with a few black patches.
WO, the Laurel Sphinx:
The lower forewings are predominantly brownish-yellow with a fairly
wide dark bar along the inner margin. At rest the wings hug the body,
giving the moth a long slender look.
the Canadian Sphinx or
The upperside of the forewing is yellowish gray in males and pale
gray with a faint yellow tint in females. In both sexes, the dark
border on the outer margin widens as it approaches the inner margin.
WO, the Poecila Sphinx:
If you have blueberries in the woods, then you probably have the
Poecila Sphinx. They are pretty common here on Prince Edward Island,
but don't fly too far south of Massachusetts, being replaced by
Sphinx gordius in Connecticut.
Sphinx vashti WO, the Snowberry Sphinx:
Snowberry Sphinx adults fly as a single brood in montane woodlands and along prairie
streamcourses from April to August.
The upperside of the forewing has a narrow black subterminal line
bordered by a white inverted V-shaped line on the outside, and a
black line at the apex.
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.
See the file for the female; she is different.
the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx:
This moth has a large, heavy body, and
females can be remarkably plump.
WO, the Blinded Sphinx:
The outer margin of the forewing is quite wavy. There is a dark cell spot and a dark oblique line mid wing from the costa almost to the
inner margin. Basic ground colour is pinkish brown.
Flight would be June-July.
the Small-eyed Sphinx:
This small species is probably widespread and common. This species ranges across North America.
The hindwings have a small blue eyespot ringed with black on a yellow background.
WO, the Cerisyi's
Sphinx or One-eyed Sphinx: Larvae feed on poplars and willows.
Flight would be from late May-July as a single brood.
Look for incomplete light arc near forewing apex.
Look at right forewing tip where light coloration forms a complete letter "c"
by meeting the outer margin below the apex.
Along the East Coast, it flies from P.E.I. to Florida.
WO, the Titan Sphinx:
The body is dark brown with a wide white stripe across the abdomen.
The wings are dark brown. It is very similar to above species, but the
upperside of the hindwing has
pale patches along the costa and inner margin. unlikely, rare stray
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. The male's forewing upperside is dark gray and brown with
a black band running from the base to the tip. unlikely stray
Erinnyis obscura, the 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.
unlikely, rare stray
See Hemaris comparison
to help distinguish the next three species.
WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth:
The moth flies along forest edges and in meadows, gardens and
brushy fields. Day-flying adults nectar at lantana, dwarf bush honeysuckle,
snowberry, orange hawkweed, thistles, lilac, Canada violet, etc.
WO, possible but unlikely, the
Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing:
Hemaris gracilis is distinguished from similar species by a pair of
red-brown bands on the undersides of the thorax, which varies from
green to yellow-green dorsally and sometimes brown with white
WO, the Hummingbird Clearwing:
This interesting day flier is confirmed for Cook and McHenry, and is likely common.
They are widely distributed in the east from P.E.I. to Florida.
the Achemon Sphinx:
This moth is confirmed for nearby McHenry County. It is fairly often
reported along the east coast from southern New Jersey
to central Maine.
Note the differences between this moth and 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 where
they have not previously been reported.
WO, the Nessus Sphinx:
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.
the Azalea Sphinx:
They are common in New Jersey and common
here on Prince Edward Island.
You will often see this species listed as Darapsa pholus,
especially in older literature.
WO, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the
This moth is recorded on the U.S.G.S. site for Stephenson County,
and it is probably common.
It is widely reported as far north as southern Maine. If you have the
foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this
the Hydrangea Sphinx:
If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the
probably is uncommon.
the Lettered Sphinx:
The moth's outer margin of the forewing is deeply scalloped.
The upperside is light brown with dark brown markings.
There is a small black and white spot near the tip.
The upperside of the hindwing is orange-brown with a dark brown
outer margin and median line.
WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth
or Gallium Sphinx:
This species is not confirmed in Stephenson County, but it might be present.
Some years I see them on P.E.I., some years, I do not.
USGS, the White-lined Sphinx:
Adults usually fly at dusk, during the night, and at dawn, but they
also fly during the day over a wide variety of open habitats
including deserts, suburbs, and gardens.
WO/EB, the Abbott's Sphinx:
This moth is very much under reported on USGS. It is a
rapid day flier so is probably not in too many collections.
Grape is a popular larval host.
WO, possible stray, generally more southerly,
the Tersa Sphinx:
The upperside of the forewing is pale brown with lavender-gray at the
base and has dark brown lengthwise lines throughout.
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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