Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 2010
Updated as per BAMONA, September 23, 2013.

Knox County, Maine
Sphingidae

Thirty-nine Sphingidae species are listed for Maine on the BAMONA website as of September 23, 2013. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Knox (One is reported on BAMONA as of September 23, 2013). 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.

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

Visit Knox County Sphingidae Larvae.

Visit Maine Catocala: Underwing Moths.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata WO, unlikely stray: Enountered in Kennebec County as stray from further south. It might appear in fall, but is unlikely. Very strong flier, frequently encountered far north of its usual range.

Ceratomia amyntor WO, Elm Sphinx, Four-horned Sphinx: Brown with dark brown and white markings including white costal area near wing base, dark streaks along veins, and white spot in the cell. Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), cherry (Prunus).

Ceratomia undulosa WO, Waved Sphinx: Pale brownish gray (sometimes dark) with wavy black and white lines and black-outlined white cell spot. Hw gray with diffuse darker bands.

Dolba hyloeus WO, Pawpaw Sphinx: Dark brown with dusting of white scales. Some moths have patches of reddish or yellowish brown on wings. Larvae not limited to pawpaw.

Lapara bombycoides WO, Northern Pine Sphinx: Gray with heavy black bands. The upperside of the hindwing is brownish gray with no markings.

Lintneria eremitus WO, Hermit Sphinx: Gray-brown with wavy lines, black dashes, and one or two small white spots near the center of the costa.

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, Five-spotted Hawkmoth: If you grow tomatoes, you might encounter it.

Manduca sexta BAMONA, Carolina Sphinx: Abdomen usually has six pairs of yellow bands, broken across back. Sixth set of markings quite small. Forewing has indistinct black, brown, white markings. Larvae get very large, can strip tomato plant.

Sphinx canadensis WO, Canadian Sphinx: Uncommon, not often reported anywhere, but it is reported in nearby Aroostook County. Larval hosts are white ash (Fraxinus americana) and blueberry (Vaccinium).

Sphinx chersis WO, Northern Ash Sphinx, Great Ash Sphinx: Soft dark gray to blue-gray with series of black dashes, one of which reaches wing tip.

Sphinx drupiferarum 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.

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: 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, Poecila Sphinx: If you have blueberries in fields/woods, then you probably have poecila.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO, Walnut Sphinx: 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. See file for different female.

Pachysphinx modesta WO, Modest Sphinx, 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, 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 WO, Blinded Sphinx: Named for dull grey-blue spot in hindwing. Widely distributedion, probably common. I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as Florida.

Paonias myops WO, Small-eyed Sphinx: Named for small eye-spot in hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution, probably present. I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, reported as far south as Florida.

Smerinthus cerisyi WO, Cerisyi's Sphinx: Probably flies throughout Maine. The light-coloured, forewing, apical arc does not reach the outer margin in its lower half.

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, Twin-spotted Sphinx: This moth is widely distributed and fairly common.
Near the right forewing apex there is complete light coloured arc (letter "c") reaching outer margin.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris thysbe, WO, Hummingbird Clearwing: Not difficult to see why many gardeners mistake Hemaris thysbe for small hummingbird as it hovers, sipping nectar from flowers through long feeding tube.

Hemaris diffinis WO, Snowberry Clearwing: Adults mimic bumblebees, quite variable. Wings basically clear, dark brown to brownish-orange veins, bases, edges. Thorax golden-brown to dark greenish-brown. Abdomen: dark (black); 1-2 yellow segments before tip.

Hemaris gracilis WO, Slender Clearwing, Graceful Clearwing: Distinguished from similar species by pair of red-brown bands on undersides of thorax, which varies from green to yellow-green dorsally and sometimes brown with white underneath.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, Achemon Sphinx: Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx.

Eumorpha pandorus WO, 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 been reported.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO. Nessus sphinx flies during 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 median band may be very pale or absent. Concave regions of fw outer margin also have pale yellow markings in fringe area.

Darapsa choerilus WO, 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 WO, Virginia Creeper Sphinx, Grapevine Sphinx: FW upperside dark brown to pale yellowish gray, with olive tint (often quite green). Dark rectangular patch on costal margin, although this may be reduced or absent. HW: pale orange.

Darapsa versicolor WO, 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, Lettered Sphinx: Fw outer margin deeply scalloped. Light brown with dark brown markings. Ssmall black and white spot near tip. The upperside of the hindwing is orange-brown with a dark brown outer margin and median line.

Hyles gallii WO, Bedstraw Hawk Moth, Gallium Sphinx: The forewing is dark brown with a slightly irregular cream-coloured transverse line. The outer margin is grey. There is a bright pink band on the hindwing.

Hyles lineata possible, but unlikely stray, White-lined Sphinx: It is a strong migrator from the south, and there are records from the west and to the north. non resident stray

Proserpinus flavofasciata WO, Yellow-banded Day Sphinx: Fw: medium to dark brown with faint to distinct white median band. Hw: dark brown with wide orange median band which may not reach inner margin. Mimics bumblebee. Afternoon flight as single brood from April-June in meadows in coniferous forests.

Sphecodina abbottii WO, Abbott's Sphinx: Adults mimic bumblebees, make buzzing sound when feeding. Wing margins scalloped. Fwdark brown with light brown bands and markings. Hw: 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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