Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July, 2010
Updated as per Butterflies and Moths of North America website (formerly USGS), July 2010
Updated/dedicated to Rebecca Alves (Darapsa myron, Westfield, July 30, 2011); July 30, 2011
Updated as per personal communication with Karl Piela (Sphecodina abbottii, June 1, 2012, Chicopee); June 2, 2012
Updated as per personal communication with Angela Lugo (Manduca sexta, August 2, 2014, Westfield); August 3, 2014

Hampden County, Massachusetts

Darapsa myron, Westfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts,
July 30, 2011, courtesy of Rebecca Alves.

This page is dedicated to Rebecca Alves for her interest in and appreciation of lepidoptera. Rebecca sends the image of Darapsa myron at the top of the page and writes, "This moth I found at work in Westfield, Massachusetts. I thought it was a Pandora Sphinx but now I'm thinking it might be a Virginia Creeper. I'm just curious. Could you let me know?"

I reply, "It is Darapsa myron, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx. I would like to post image, credited to you or to Mark or to both of you?, to a Hampden County page that I will update.

"The Pandorus Sphinx also flies in your area and has a greenish cast, but it is different."

Forty-one Sphingidae species are listed for Massachusetts on the U.S.G.S. website (now BAMONA). Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Hampden County (only one species is reported on U.S.G.S. as of July 14, 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 your county, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present.

A "USGS" indicates the moth is reported 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.

Please also report your sightings to BAMONA, an excellent online resource.

Many thanks to Karl Piela for his July 15-17, 2014 report: "Here are the species that were seen, I did collect a portion as scientific evidence and paper bagging some for ova. Over 2 nights.....3 freshly emerged Eumorpha pandorus including two vividly covered, large females last night....one in a bag presently. Worn Darapsa choerilus (six) and three Darapsa myron including a large female. One Ceratomia undulosa and three worn Paonias myops, four Paonias excaecatus .... very fresh .. double-brooded? The Pandora sphinx I have never seen on the wing in my whole life. Perhaps their range is expanding northward."

I reply, "Thanks for sighting data, Karl. I think Eumorpha pandorus is fairly common throughout Massachusetts. It likely has poor years and banner years depending upon winter temps and availability of host plants. Paonias excaecata is possibly double brooded in your area."

Many thanks to Angela Lugo and Melissa Garwacki-Labombard for the following image of Manduca sexta.

Manduca sexta, Westfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts,
August 2, 2014, photo by Melissa Garwacki-Labombard, submitted by Angela Lugo.

Manduca sexta, Westfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts,
August 2, 2014, photo by Melissa Garwacki-Labombard, submitted by Angela Lugo.

Visit Hampden County Sphingidae Larvae: Caterpillars; Hornworms

Visit Massachusetts Catocala: Underwing Moths

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

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

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. The upperside of the hindwing is light brown and has a dark brown band along the outer margin.

Ceratomia catalpae WO, the Catalpa Sphinx: This is generally a more southerly species, but it has been recorded in Essex County and might be present in Franklin County. I saw them in great numbers in New Jersey.

The larvae feed in large groups and are much more spectacular than the moths.
Catalpa is the larval host. Questionable!

Ceratomia undulosa WO/KP, Waved Sphinx: Usually pale brownish gray (sometimes dark) to yellowish-brown with wavy black and white lines and black-outlined white cell spot. Hw: gray with diffuse darker bands.

Ceratomia undulosa, Ludlow, July 16, 2014, Karl Piela.

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. Larvae are not limited to pawpaw.

Lapara bombycoides WO, the 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. The underside is rather plain

Lapara coniferarum WO, Southern Pine Sphinx: Gray with two (sometimes one or three) black dashes near wing center; other markings are usually diffuse. HW: uniform brown-gray. Lacks more sharply contrasting black markings of fresh L. bombycoides. Extensive reddish brown patch in median area near fw inner margin.

Lintneria eremitus WO, the Hermit Sphinx:

This species is probably present in Berkshire County. 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.

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. The upperside of the hindwing is mostly black, with gray at the lower margin. unlikely

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO the Five-spotted Hawkmoth: This species is not recorded in Hampden, but, if you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it.

Manduca sexta WO/MGL&AL, Carolina Sphinx. This species is now (August 2, 2014) officially recorded in your county. If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it. Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.

Manduca sexta, Westfield, August 2, 2014, Melissa Garwacki-Labombard & Angela Lugo

Paratrea plebeja WO, the Plebian Sphinx: This species is recorded in Dukes County, but probably would not be common, as this would be the northernmost part of range. The upperside of the forewing is gray with indistinct black and white markings.

Sphinx canadensis WO, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx: The absence of the white spot on each forewing and the more brownish coloration serve to separate canadensis from poecilus. The hindwing fringe also tends to be white on poecilus and checkered brownish on canadensis. Larval hosts are white ash (Fraxinus americana) and blueberry (Vaccinium).

Sphinx chersis WO, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx: Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

This species is not officially recorded, but I suspect it is present. We have them on P.E.I., but I do not see them nearly as frequently as I see the other Sphingidae.

Sphinx gordius WO, the Apple Sphinx

This species is probably present in Hampden County.
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.

Sphinx kalmiae 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.

Sphinx luscitiosa WO, the Canadian Sphinx or Clemen's Sphinx: FW upperside is yellowish gray in males; pale gray with yellow tint in females. Dark border on outer margin widens as it approaches inner margin. HW upperside is deep yellow in males, pale yellow in females; both with wide black border.

Sphinx poecila 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.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO, the Walnut Sphinx: Adults are highly variable; sometimes wings may be all one color or may have several colors, ranging from pale to dark brown, and may have white or pink tinge. Patterns range from faint to pronounced. This is the first Sphinx species I reared as a boy in New Jersey.
See the file for the female; she is different.

Pachysphinx modesta USGS the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx: This moth has a large, heavy body, and females can be remarkably plump. Hindwings are often striking in contrast to more sombre upperwings.

Paonias astylus WO/KP, the Huckleberry Sphinx: It is recorded for northeastern Massachusetts and western Connecticut so may be present in Hampden County. It would be more common in southeastern Massachusetts and is a relatively uncommon species.

Paonias excaecata, Ludlow, July 16, 2014, Karl Piela.

Paonias excaecata WO/KP, the Blinded Sphinx: Named for the dull grey-blue spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is probably common in your county.

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

Paonias excaecata, Ludlow, July 16, 2014, Karl Piela.

Paonias myops WO/KP, the Small-eyed Sphinx: Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is probably common in your county. I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as Florida.

Paonias myops, Ludlow, July 16, 2014, Karl Piela.

Smerinthus cerisyi WO, the Cerisyi's Sphinx: At my home in Montague, P.E.I., Canada, they are quite common and are very easy to rear.

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, the Twin-spotted Sphinx: Jamaicensis closely resembles cerisyi, but jamaicensis is much smaller with larger blue patches on more vibrant and deeper purple in the lower wings. Look for dark half moon, inwardly lined with white at the fw apex.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris thysbe WO, 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 gracilis WO, Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing: Gracilis is distinguished from similar species by pair of red-brown bands on sides of thorax, varying from green to yellow-green dorsally and sometimes brown with white below. Abdomen is red. Wings are transparent with reddish brown borders.

Hemaris diffinis WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx: This moth is not officially reported for Hampden, but it is fairly often reported along the coast from southern New Jersey to central Maine. Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx.

Eumorpha pandorus WO/KP, 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. It is confirmed in Worcester Co. to the east.

Eumorpha pandorus, Ludlow, July 16, 2014, Karl Piela.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, the Nessus Sphinix: 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/KP, 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 choerilus, Ludlow, July 16, 2014, Karl Piela.

Darapsa myron WO/RA/KP, Virginia Creeper Sphinx; Grapevine Sphinx: FW upperside is dark brown to pale yellowish gray, with an olive tint (often quite green). On the costal margin there is a dark rectangular patch, although this may be reduced or absent. HW upperside is pale orange.

Darapsa myron, Westfield, July 30, 2011, courtesy of Rebecca Alves
Darapsa choerilus, Ludlow, July 16, 2014, Karl Piela.

Darapsa versicolor WO, the Hydrangea Sphinx: If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the Hydrangea Sphinx.

It has not been widely reported, however, and probably is uncommon.

Deidamia inscriptum WO, 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.

Hyles gallii WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

Note thick, irregular, creamy transverse line on forewings and the absence of thin white lines on forewings and thorax.

Hyles lineata WO, White-lined Sphinx: 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. The hindwing upperside is black with a reddish pink median band.

Sphecodina abbottii WO/KP, Abbott's Sphinx: Adults are said to mimic bumblebees and make a buzzing sound when feeding. The wing margins are scalloped. The upperside of the forewing is dark brown with light brown bands and markings. The upperside of the hindwing is yellow with a wide black outer margin.

Sphecodina abbottii, Chicopee, June 1, 2012, courtesy of Karl Piela.

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.

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