Benton County, Minnesota
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,
"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
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
WO Pink-spotted hawkmoth,
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
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
It is named for the wavy lines on the forewings.
Note black and white collar separating thorax from abdomen.
Reported from northern Minnesota and central western Wisconisn,
it might be present in Benton County. This is one we have on P.E.I.
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.
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
WO, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash
The upperside of the forewing is soft dark gray to
blue-gray with a series of black dashes, one of which reaches the
Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.
Forewings, long and slender,
are held close to the body when the moth is at rest.
them on P.E.I., but I do not see them frequently.
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.
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.
the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx
This moth is also found in Canada. Moths have very heavy bodies.
Larvae eat poplar and willow.
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.
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 closely resembles Smerinthus cerisyi,
but jamaicensis is much smaller with larger blue patches on more
vibrant and deeper purple in the lower wings.
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
See Hemaris comparisons.
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 comparison
WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth
This moth is widely distributed and
might be present in Benton County.
Larvae get large and feed on grape vines and Virginia creeper.
If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you probably have
I often get asked to identify larvae from areas not
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
WO, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the
If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you
probably have this species nearby. The lower wings are orange.
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.
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.
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.
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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