Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, September 9, 2010
Updated as per Butterflies and Moths of North America website (formerly USGS), September 9, 2010

Hancock County, Maine
Sphingidae

Thirty-seven Sphingidae species are listed for Maine on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Hancock (Twenty-two are reported on U.S.G.S. as of September 9, 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. 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.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata WO unlikely stray

This species has been enountered in nearby Kennebec County as a stray from much further south. It might appear in the fall, but is unlikely.
The moth is a very strong flier and is frequently encountered far north of its usual range.

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).

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.

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. Larvae are not limited to pawpaw.

Lapara bombycoides USGS, 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.

Lintneria eremitus USGS, the Hermit Sphinx

This species is probably present.

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 quinquemaculatus USGS the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

This species is not recorded in Waldo, but, if you grow tomatoes, you might encounter it.

Sphinx canadensis WO, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere, but it is reported in Lincoln County.

Larval hosts are white ash (Fraxinus americana) and blueberry (Vaccinium).

Sphinx chersis USGS, 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.

Sphinx drupiferarum USGS, 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.

Sphinx kalmiae USGS, 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

The upperside of the forewing is yellowish gray in males and pale gray with a faint yellow tint in females. It seems to be an uncommon species.

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

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.

Pachysphinx modesta USGS, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

This moth has a large, heavy body, and females can be remarkably plump.

They are common on Prince Edward Island.

Paonias astylus WO, the Huckleberry Sphinx

It is recorded for northeastern Massachusetts and western Connecticut, and makes its way into southern Maine. It would be more common in more southerly locales.

Paonias excaecata USGS, the Blinded Sphinx

Named for the dull grey-blue spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is probably common in Piscataquis County.

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

Paonias myops USGS, the Small-eyed Sphinx

Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is probably present in Piscataquis, although not confirmed.

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

Smerinthus cerisyi USGS, the Cerisyi's Sphinx

This species probably flies throughout Maine.
At my home in Montague, P.E.I., Canada, they are quite common. The light-coloured, forewing, apical arc does not reach the outer margin in its lower half.

Smerinthus jamaicensis USGS, the Twin-spotted Sphinx

This moth is widely distributed and fairly common. I suspect the same in Lincoln County.
Near the right forewing apex there is a complete light coloured arc (letter "c") reaching the outer margin.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos tantalus USGS, the Tantalus Sphinx. Body reddish brown with wide white band across abdomen. Fw upperside reddish brown with black cell spot, 3 white spots near gray marginal area. Pale streak runs from cell spot to inner margin. USGS lists A. titan; rare encounter was more likely with wind assisted migrant stray of A. tantalus.

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three 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 USGS, 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.

Hemaris gracilis USGS, 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 underneath.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx

This moth is not officially reported for Hancock, 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 USGS, 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.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis USGS. The Nessus sphinx flies during the day and at dusk: two bright yellow bands on tufted abdomin. At rest, dark red-brown upperwings hide hw red-orange median band and yellow spot. In some specimens the median band may be very pale or almost absent. Concave regions of fw outer margin also have pale yellow markings in fringe area.

Darapsa choerilus USGS, the Azalea Sphinx.

They are common in New Jersey and common here on Prince Edward Island. 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
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 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 USGS, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

confirmed in Hancock County.

Some years I see them on P.E.I., some years, I do not.

Hyles lineata unlikely stray, the White-lined Sphinx

This species is reported from Hancock County, probably as a migrant stray from further south. non resident stray

Proserpinus flavofasciata WO, the Yellow-banded Day Sphinx. The fw upperside is medium to dark brown with a faint to distinct white median band. The hw upperside is dark brown with a wide orange median band which may not reach the inner margin. Moth mimics a bumblebee. Adults fly in afternoon as a single brood from April-June in meadows in coniferous forests.

Sphecodina abbottii WO, the 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.


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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