Lapeer County
Sphingidae

Hemaris thysbe, July 18, 2005, courtesy of Diane Smith

Forty-six Sphingidae species are listed in the USGS for Michigan. Not all of the species are reported (twenty-one by USGS) or anticipated in Lapeer County. I have added species which I feel may be present.

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 Lapeer County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Robert Woods who sent me a sighting of Hemaris thysbe in Lapeer County.

Robert writes, "I just wanted to say, 'thank you', for the great article on the clearwing hummingbird moth. I watched one for quite a while on my phlox this past summer and had been told that their larvae is the horned tomato worm.

Thanks for clearing that question up with your wonderful series of photos."

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.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Ceratomia amyntor USGS,

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 has been recorded to the south and west of Lapeer and may be present.

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

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 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. This moth is recorded to the south in Oakland County.
Larve 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.

Manduca quinquemaculata USGS, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

This large bodied moth flies in tobacco fields and vegetable gardens (potatoes, tomatoes) and wherever host plants are found.

Manduca sexta WO, the Carolina Sphinx
This species is not recorded in LaPeer, which may be north of its range. If you grow tomatoes, However, you might encounter it.
Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant. unlikely

Sphinx canadensis WO, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere, but it might possibly be present in Lapeer 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

This species is present in Lapeer County. We have them on P.E.I., but I do not see them nearly as frequently as I see the other Sphingidae.

Sphinx eremitus USGS, the Hermit Sphinx

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.

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 USGS, 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. In both sexes, the dark border on the outer margin widens as it approaches the inner margin.

Sphinx poecila USGS, 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 USGS, the Walnut Sphinx

This moth is also reporterd in Lapeer County.

This is the first Sphinx species I reared as a boy in New Jersey.
See the file for the female; she is different.

Paonias excaecata USGS, 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.

Paonias myops USGS, 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.

Pachysphinx modesta USGS, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx,

This large poplar/willow feeder is reported in Lapeer County.

They are a heavy bodied species.

Smerinthus cerisyi USGS, 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. It is confirmed in Lapeer County.

Smerinthus jamaicensis USGS, the Twin-spotted Sphinx

This moth is widely distributed and fairly common, and it is recorded in Oakland.

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

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini Tribe:

Hemaris diffinis 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.

Hemaris thysbe RW, the Hummingbird Clearwing

This interesting day flier is confirmed for Lapeer by Robert Woods.

They are widely distributed in the east from P.E.I. to Florida.

Philampelini Tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx

This moth is not reported for Lapeer, 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 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 USGS, 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 myron USGS, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx
This moth is recorded on the U.S.G.S. site for Oakland County.
It is widely reported as far north as southern Maine. If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this species nearby.

Darapsa versicolor USGS, the Hydrangea Sphinx

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

However, it probably is uncommon.

Deidamia inscriptum USGS, the Lettered Sphinx

This species has been recorded just to the south in Oakland County.

It is also seen in southern Ontario.

Hyles gallii WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is not reported in Lapeer, but it has been recorded in counties to the south and east. I suspect it is present.
Some years I see them on P.E.I., some years, I do not.

Hyles lineata 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.

Sphecodina abbottii WO, 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.

Xylophanes tersa WO, the Tersa Sphinx

This moth is much more common to the south and east. It is a strong migrant, however, and may stray to Lapeer. unlikely

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Please send sightings/images to Bill. I will do my best to respond to requests for identification help.