Benton County, Minnesota
Sphingidae

Eumorpha pandorus, Benton County, Minnesota, courtesy of Kathy and Kylie Ross.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Kathy and Kylie Ross who sent me the image of the Eumorpha pandorus larva, top of the page, from Benton County.

Kathy writes, August 5, 2006,

"Hi Bill,

"I will take credit for the photo, but my five year old daughter Kylie, was the one who spotted the caterpillar. She pulled the Virginia Creeper vine out of the ground and brought it inside to show me... It was exciting for all of us!

"Unfortunately while we were at the lake today, the larva crawled out of the container we had it in. I followed the trail of droppings but was unable to find where it ended up. Do they over-winter in the ground to emerge in the spring, or should I be watching for the moth sometime later this fall?

"I'm curious about how common they are in the area that I live. Do you document that kind of thing?

"Again I am very thankful for your information and will keep you in mind if I have other questions about other critters that the kids and I run across. You've been very, very helpful!"

Eumorpha pandorus is not often seen in or reported from Minnesota. It is much more common in the eastern United States and generally at lower latitudes.

Your caterpillar will excavate a subterannean cavity in which to pupate and will emerge the following spring/summer, probably in late June to early July.

I have received very few reports of this species in Minnesota.

Twelve Sphingidae species are listed for Minnesota on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Benton County (only one, Hyles lineata is reported on U.S.G.S.). 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 or might be present. I have included many species not on the USGS list for Minnesota; I believe they are or might be present. Many, that are not on the USGS list, have been confirmed by Tom Middagh for Minnesota.

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 Pink-spotted hawkmoth, fall stray

This species is a strong migrant and adults nectar from deep-throated flowers including moonflower (Calonyction aculeatum), morning glory (Convolvulus), honey suckle (Lonicera) and petunia (Petunia species). unlikely

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 WO, the Waved Sphinx

It is named for the wavy lines on the forewings. Note black and white collar separating thorax from abdomen.

Lapara bombycoides WO, the Northern Pine Sphinx

Reported from northern Minnesota and central western Wisconisn, it might be present in Benton County. This is one we have on P.E.I.

Manduca quinquemaculata 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. If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it.

Manduca sexta WO, the Carolina Sphinx

If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered Manduca sexta in the larval stage.

Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant. generally a more southerly species

Sphinx chersis WO, 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. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

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 frequently.

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.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO, the Walnut Sphinx

This moth is also fairly widely reported to the east and south and might be present.
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 WO, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

This moth is also found in Canada. Moths have very heavy bodies. Larvae eat poplar and willow.

Paonias excaecata WO, the Blinded Sphinx

Named for the dull grey-blue spot in the hindwing, this moth has a very wide distribution.

I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island.

Paonias myops WO, the Small-eyed Sphinx

Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a very wide distribution.

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

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, the Twin-spotted Sphinx

Smerinthus jamaicensis closely resembles Smerinthus cerisyi, but jamaicensis is much smaller with larger blue patches on more vibrant and deeper purple in the lower wings.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Erinnyis ello, the Ello Sphinx, WO

The abdomen has very distinct gray and black bands.

Adults nectar at dusk so you may see them in the garen at that time. possibly only as a very rare fall stray

Hemaris thysbe WO, the Hummingbird Clearwing

This interesting day flier is not confirmed for Benton County.

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

See Hemaris comparisons.

Hemaris diffinis WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth

This moth is widely distributed and might be present in Benton County.

See Hemaris comparison

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx

Larvae get large and feed on grape vines and Virginia creeper.

Eumorpha pandorus K&KR, 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 not previously reported.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, the Nessus Sphinix

This day flier is widely distributed. If you have Virginia Creeper, you might have the Nessus Sphinx.

Two bright, distinct, narrow yellow bands are often visible on the abdomen. generally more southerly

Darapsa myron WO, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx

If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this species nearby. The lower wings are orange.

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. Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus) all serve as larval hosts.

Hyles euphorbiae WO, the Spurge Hawk Moth
The body is light brown with various white and dark brown markings, while the wings have a conspicuous tan, brown, and pink or red color pattern.

Hyles gallii WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is not reported in Minnesota, but I expect it is present.

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

Hyles lineata USGS, the White-lined Sphinx

This species is recorded in Nobles County.

It is a strong migrator from the south, and there are records from the east and from the west.




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