Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, June 2009
Updated as per personal communication with Allison Smart & Bruce Greene (Hemaris thysbe, Lubec, July 29, 2013

Washington County, Maine

Smerinthus cerisyi by Jean Haxaire (Bill Oehlke pupa, Montague, P.E.I.)

This page has been inspired by and is dedicated to Matthew Arey from Essex County, Massachusetts. Matthew travelled to Addison and Columbia Falls and Harrington, Washington County, Maine, and sent me Hemaris thysbe and Prosperpinus flavofasciata sightings, July 3-8, 2006. At his black light he encountered Big Poplar Sphinx (Pachysphinx modesta) - 12 +; Cerisy's Sphinx (Smerinthus cerisyi) - 7; Blinded Sphinx (Paonias exacaecata) - 20 +; Twin Spot Sphinx (Smerinthus jamaicensis) - 12 +; Small Eyed Sphinx (Paonias myops) - 15; Northern Apple Sphinx (Sphinx poecila) - 18; Canadian Sphinx (Sphinx canadensis) - 2; Laurel Sphinx (Sphinx kalmiae) - 5; Azalea Sphinx (Darapsa choerilus) - 1; Waved Sphinx (Ceratomia undulosa) - 4.

In previous years in Washington County, Matthew has observed Galium Sphinx (Hyles gallii intermedia) - August, 2005 Northern Pine Sphinx (Lapara bombycoides) - July, 2002 / July, 2003 Pawpaw Sphinx (Dolba hyloeus) - July, 2003 Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis) - August, 2002.

Matthew also sent numerous butterfly and Saturniidae sightings.

Thirty-seven Sphingidae species are listed for Maine on the U.S.G.S. (now BAMONA) website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Washington County (only two are reported on U.S.G.S.: Gaudy sphinx (Eumorpha labruscae) and Canadian sphinx (Sphinx canadensis)). 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.

Many thanks to Allison Smart & Bruce Greene who provide the following image of Hemaris thysbe.

Hemaris thsybe, Lubec, Washington County, Maine,
July 29, 2013, courtesy of Allison Smart & Bruce Greene.

Visit Washington County Sphingidae Larvae: Caterpillars; Hornworms

Visit Maine Catocala: Underwing Moths.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata WO stray

This species might be enountered in Washington County as a rare stray from much further south.
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 catalpae WO, the Catalpa Sphinx

This is generally a more southerly species, but it may be present where the foodplant grows. 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.

Ceratomia undulosa MA, 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.

Ceratomia undulosa, (4), July 3-8, 2006, Matthew Arey

Dolba hyloeus WO/MA, 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.

Dolba hyloeus, July, 2003, Matthew Arey

Lapara bombycoides WO/MA, the Northern Pine Sphinx
Also reported from nearby Penobscot County, it is widely reported in Massachusetts and along the coast in New Hamshire and Vermont. This is another one we have on P.E.I.

Lapara bombycoides, July, 2002-2003, Matthew Arey

Lintneria eremitus WO, the Hermit Sphinx

Forewing upperside is gray-brown with wavy lines, black dashes, and one or two small white spots near center of the costa. Hindwing upperside is black with two white bands and a triangular black patch at the base. Note the golden hair on the thorax.

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO the Five-spotted Hawkmoth: The moth abdomen usually has five but sometimes six pairs of yellow bands. The upperside of the forewing is blurry brown and gray. The upperside of the hindwing is banded with brown and white and has two well-separated median zigzag bands.

Manduca rustica WO, the Rustic Sphinx

The abdomen of the adult moth has three pairs of yellow spots. The upperside of the forewing is yellowish brown to deep chocolate brown with a dusting of white scales and zigzagged black and white lines. unlikely

Sphinx canadensis MA/USGS, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere, but it is reported in Washington County.

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

Sphinx canadensis, (2), July 3-8, 2006, Matthew Arey

Sphinx chersis WO, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx
This species is reported in nearby Penobscot County. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

This species is present and probably flies in May/June and August. We have them on P.E.I., but I do not see them nearly as frequently as I see the other Sphingidae.

Sphinx kalmiae MA, the Laurel Sphinx

This species is reported in Washington County by Matthew Arey. I have taken them on P.E.I., Canada, and reared them on lilac.

At rest the hindwings are usually completely covered.

Sphinx kalmiae, (5), July 3-8, 2006, Matthew Arey

Sphinx luscitiosa WO, the Canadian Sphinx or Clemen's Sphinx

This one is reported from nearby Penobscot County, and it flies to the south and west in Massachusetts. It seems to be an uncommon species.

Sphinx poecila MA, 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 poecila, (18), July 3-8, 2006, Matthew Arey

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO, the Walnut Sphinx

This moth is confirmed in nearby Penobscot County.
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 MA, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

This moth is confirmed in Washington County.

They are common on Prince Edward Island.

Pachysphinx modesta, (12), July 3-8, 2006, Matthew Arey

Paonias excaecata MA, the Blinded Sphinx

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

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

Paonias excaecata, (20 +), July 3-8, 2006, Matthew Arey

Paonias myops MA, the Small-eyed Sphinx

Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is present in Washington, confirmed by Matthew Arey.

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

Paonias myops, (15), July 3-8, 2006, Matthew Arey

Smerinthus cerisyi MA, the Cerisyi's Sphinx

This species probably flies throughout Maine.

At my home in Montague, P.E.I., Canada, they are quite common.

Smerinthus cerisyi, (7), July 3-8, 2006, Matthew Arey

Smerinthus jamaicensis MA, the Twin-spotted Sphinx

This moth is widely distributed and fairly common so I suspect it is in Washington County.

Along the East Coast, it flies from P.E.I. to Florida.

Smerinthus jamaicensis, (12), July 3-8, 2006, Matthew Arey

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris thysbe MA/ASBG, the Hummingbird Clearwing
This interesting day flier is confirmed for Washington County by Matthew Arey.
They are widely distributed in the east from P.E.I. to Florida.

Hemaris thysbe, numerous, July 3-8, 2006, Matthew Arey
Hemaris thysbe, Lubec, July 29, 2013, Allison Smart & Bruce Greene

Hemaris gracilis WO, The Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing

This day flier is not commonly reported, but is present in nearby Penobscot County.

Hemaris diffinis WO/MA, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth

This moth is widely distributed and often reported north, west and south of nearby Penobscot County as well as in Penobscot and Washington.

Hemaris diffinis, August, 2002, Matthew Arey

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha labruscae USGS, the 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. Forewings are a vibrant grey-green. rare stray

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, the 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 MA, 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.

Darapsa choerilus, (1), July 3-8, 2006, Matthew Arey

Darapsa myron WO, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx
This moth is not recorded on the U.S.G.S. site for Washington County, but it is widely reported as far north as southern Maine. If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you may have this species nearby.

Darapsa versicolor WO, the Hydrangea Sphinx

If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the Hydrangea Sphinx.

This species has a range generally more to the south.

Hyles gallii WO/MA, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is also reported in nearby Penobscot County.

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

Hyles gallii intermedia, August, 2005, Matthew Arey

Hyles lineata WO, the White-lined Sphinx

This species is reported from nearby Penobscot County. It is a strong migrator from the south, and there are records from the west and to the north. non-resident stray

Proserpinus flavofasciata MA, the Yellow-banded Day Sphinx

This species is reported from Penobscot County by Matthew Arey. Adults fly as a single brood from April-June-early July in meadows in coniferous forests. Adults fly during the afternoon.

Proserpinus flavofasciata, one, nectaring at lupine, July 3-8, 2006, Matthew Arey

Sphecodina abbottii WO, the Abbott's Sphinx

This moth is very much under reported. It is a rapid day flier so is probably not in too many collections.

Grape is a popular larval host.

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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