Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Diane Smith (Hemaris thybse), July 18, 2005
Updated as per personal communication with Kimberly Strawska Hackett (Paonias myops), July 17, 2008
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 1, 2009
Updated as per personal communication with Mary Healey (Hyles lineata), October 4, 2013
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-three by USGS)
or anticipated in Oakland County. I have added thirteen 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 Oakland County, but I
(William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present.
This page is inspired by and dedicated to Diane Smith who sent me the images of Hemaris thysbe on this page.
Special thanks goes to Kimberly Strawska Hackett who took the following picture of a Paonias myops
resting on her neighbour's screen door on July 17, 2008.
Paonias myops male (note curved abdomen), Oakland County, Michigan,
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.
July 17, 2008, courtesy of Kimberly Strawska Hackett.
Please also send your sightings to BAMONA, an excellent online resource which has replaced USGS.
Many thanks to Mary Healey who provides the following image of Hyles lineata.
Hyles lineata, Birmingham, Oakland County, Michigan,
I suspect the Hyles lineata is a mmigrant stray from further south.
October 4, 2013, courtesy of Mary Healy.
Visit Michigan Catocala: Underwing Moths.
Ceratomia amyntor WO, Elm Sphinx, Four-horned Sphinx:
Brown with dark brown, white markings including white costal area near wing base, dark streaks
along veins, white cell spot. Hw: light brown, dark brown band along outer margin.
Ceratomia catalpae WO, Catalpa Sphinx:
Yellowish grey-brown with no white markings; indistinct black lines, dashes. Cell spot gray with black outline;
Hindwing yellowish brown with obscure lines.
Ceratomia undulosa USGS, Waved Sphinx:
Pale brownish-gray to yellowish-brown (sometimes dark). Wavy black, white lines; black-outlined, white cell spot. Hw: gray with diffuse darker bands.
Dolba hyloeus USGS, 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.
Lapara bombycoides WO, 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 WO, Hermit Sphinx:
Gray-brown with black dashes, one or two small white spots near center costa.
Hw: black with two white bands, triangular black patch at base. Note golden thoracic hairs.
Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS, 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, Carolina Sphinx:
If you grow tomatoes, you have possibly encountered it. Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.
Sphinx canadensis WO, Canadian Sphinx:
Absence of fw white spot and more brownish coloration serve to separate canadensis from S. poecila. Hwg fringe also tends to be white on
poecilas and checkered brownish on canadensis.
Sphinx chersis USGS, 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 USGS, Wild Cherry Sphinx:
Dull slate grey, considerable light grey scaling in broad band along costa about 3/4 of distance from body toward apex.
Median lines: black, thin. Wavy, diffuse dark subterminal line, inwardly bordered by white, whitish bar in terminal area.
Sphinx gordius WO, Apple Sphinx:
Ranges from brown with black borders through brownish gray with paler borders to pale gray with no borders.
Dashes, submarginal line, and cell spot are usually weak.
Sphinx kalmiae USGS, Laurel Sphinx:
Lower forewings predominantly brownish-yellow with fairly wide dark bar along inner margin. At rest, wings hug body, giving moth long slender look.
Sphinx luscitiosa WO, Canadian Sphinx, Clemen's Sphinx:
Yellowish gray in males; pale gray with faint yellow tint in females. Dark border on outer margin widens as it approaches inner margin.
Male hw deep yellow; female hw pale yellow; both with wide black border. generally more northerly
Sphinx poecila USGS, Poecila Sphinx:
Fw fringes checkered black and white, almost pure white (lightly checked with grey) on hw. Fw dark gray with diffuse black, gray wavy lines with series of
black dashes, white cell spot distinguishes poecila from canadensis.
Amorpha juglandis USGS, Walnut Sphinx:
Highly variable; sometimes wings may be all one color or may have several colors, ranging from pale to dark brown, may have white or pink tinge.
Patterns range from faint to pronounced. Female is different.
Pachysphinx modesta USGS, Modest Sphinx, Poplar Sphinx:
They are a heavy bodied species. Green eggs are relatively large, turn brown to marron as they develop.
Paonias excaecata USGS, Blinded Sphinx:
Fw outer margin quite wavy. Dark cell spot, dark oblique line mid wing from costa almost to
inner margin. Pinkish brown.
Paonias myops male, Oakland County, Michigan, July 17, 2008, courtesy of Kimberly Strawska Hackett.
Paonias myops USGS/KSH,
Small-eyed Sphinx: The hindwings have a small blue eyespot ringed with black on a yellow background.
Smerinthus cerisyi WO, Cerisyi's Sphinx, One-eyed Sphinx:
Note incomplete letter "C" below right forewing apex. Lower extension of pale arc does no reach outer margin.
Smerinthus jamaicensis USGS, Twin-spotted Sphinx:
Note complete letter "C" below right forewing apex. Lower extension of pale arc extends to outer margin.
Enyo lugubris USGS, Mournful sphinx:
This moth would only be seen in Michigan as a very rare stray, probably
aided in its northward flight by strong winds after a southern storm.
See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish
the next three species.
Hemaris gracilis WO, Slender Clearwing, Graceful Clearwing:
Red-brown bands on undersides of thorax, which varies from
green to yellow-green dorsally and sometimes brown with white
underneath. Red abdomen; reddish legs.
Hemaris thysbe DS/USGS, Hummingbird Clearwing:
Often confused with a small hummingbird. Legs are off-white
Eumorpha achemon USGS, Achemon Sphinx:
Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx.
Eumorpha pandorus USGS, 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.
Amphion floridensis USGS, Nessus Sphinix:
Day flier. Two bright, distinct, narrow yellow bands are often visible on the abdomen.
Darapsa choerilus USGS, Azalea Sphinx:
Orangey-brown. Lower wings are solid brownish-orange, matching body colour. Listed as pholus in older literature.
Darapsa myron USGS, Virginia Creeper Sphinx, Grapevine Sphinx:
Fw: dark brown to pale yellowish gray, with olive tint. Often quite green.
Dark rectangular patch, sometimes reduced or absent on costal margin. Hw: pale orange.
Darapsa versicolor USGS, Hydrangea Sphinx:
FW: often greenish brown with curved dark lines and pinkish-white patches.
Hw: pale yellow to reddish brown with white along costal margin, greenish brown along outer margin, white shaded with greenish brown on inner margin.
Deidamia inscriptum USGS, Lettered Sphinx:
Fw outer margin deeply scalloped. Light brown with dark brown markings.
Small black and white spot near wing tip. Hw: orange-brown with dark brown outer margin and median line.
Hyles gallii WO, Bedstraw Hawk Moth, Gallium Sphinx:
Irregular crea coloured trnasverse line. Lacks white streaks on thorax and on wings.
Hyles lineata, Birmingham, October 4, 2013, Mary Healey
Hyles lineata USGS/MH, White-lined Sphinx:
Broad cream-colored transverse line; numerous white streaks on forewings and thorax.
Sphecodina abbottii WO, Abbott's Sphinx:
Mimic bumblebees, buzzing when feeding. Wing margins scalloped. Fw: dark brown with light brown bands and markings.
Hw: yellow with wide black outer margin. Grape is a popular larval host.
Xylophanes tersa WO, Tersa Sphinx:
Fw: soft brown with numerous transverse lighter and darker lines. Hw: dark grey to black with band of cream triangles.
Hemaris thysbe, July 18, 2005, courtesy of Diane Smith,
Both Diane and I got a chuckle over the seeming appearance of sun
glasses on this visitor to her flowers! Perhaps its on its
way to the 'Oscars'.
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.
Eggs of many North American species are offered during the spring and summer. Occasionally
summer Actias luna and summer Antheraea polyphemus cocoons are available. Shipping to US destinations is done
from with in the US.
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