Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Mark Black, September 2005
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, August, 2009
Updated with Hemaris diffinis confirmed by Eric Foss, August, 2009
Updated as per personal communication with Erik Stahl, May 29, 2012

Hennepin County, Minnesota

Hyles euphorbiae, Minneapolis, Minnesota, courtesy of Mark Black.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Mark Black who sent me the images of the Hyles euphorbiae larvae from Minneapolis, Hennepin County.

Mark writes, September 19, 2005,

"Hi Bill,

"I thought I'd let you know that I found a number of spurge hawkmoth caterpillars - Hyles euphorbiae, here in Minneapolis. They are the most beautiful caterpillars that I've even seen in person! Your site and helped me identify them. I took a few home and they've already pupated. I'll send you some photos. Keep up the great work on the web!!!

"I can confirm the Blinded sphinx. A friend brought me a caterpillar a couple years ago and we raised it to adulthood. My girlfriend found a Waved sphinx in a parking ramp in downtown Minneapolis a couple years ago."

Twelve Sphingidae species are listed for Minnesota on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Hennepin County (only one, Sphinx chersis 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.

Hyles lineata larva on primrose, Hennepin County, courtesy Theresa Baker, photo credit Ari Greenmen.

Many thanks also to Erik Stahl who sends the following images and interesting note:

"I have had numerous sightings of large moths in my yard and while trying to identify them I eventually found my way to a website that listed your name as a good contact.

Hyles lineata, Saint Louis Park, Hennepin County, Minnesota,
May 28, 2012, courtesy of Erik Stahl.

"From the pictures at this site, I'm pretty sure that the moths visiting my yard are White-Lined Sphinx. I live in Saint Louis Park, Minnesota (Hennepin County), and the website seems to indicate that these have been seen by others in my area. If you could confirm this from the attached photo, I'd be extremely appreciative to have an expert confirmation.

Hyles lineata, Saint Louis Park, Hennepin County, Minnesota,
May 28, 2012, courtesy of Erik Stahl.

"I'm also a gardener and one of my favorite plants/flowers is Laurentia. Only a small number of the garden stores here carry it so it isn't the most common plant, but I always get wonderful compliments about it and many people who walk by my yard ask me what it is. It blooms all summer long and at the end of the summer it doesn't look that much different from how it looks right now. What I've discovered is that Laurentia seems to be a major attractant for these moths. During the day, I rarely see any bees, flies, butterflies, or other pollinators showing any interest in it at all. However, right at dusk, I've been noticing that these moths come to visit the Laurentia. When I first put the Laurentia pots out this year a couple weeks ago, there was one moth who would come visit every night. Tonight I had four of these moths visiting these pots at the same time. I watched (and took photos) as they went from flower to flower, and all four of them were there for over twenty minutes before flying away.

Laurentia pots, Saint Louis Park, Hennepin County, Minnesota,
courtesy of Erik Stahl.

"I thought I'd pass this story about the Laurentia along in case it might be of interest to anyone else who wants to attract these moths. The moths seem to be stopping by every night at dusk now. Any help you can provide in confirming that my photo is the White-Lined Sphinx is also highly appreciated! Thank you very much."

Laurentia and guest, Saint Louis Park, Hennepin County, Minnesota,
courtesy of Erik Stahl.

Again, many thanks to Erik for sharing photos. If you would like to see these moths in your yard, get some Laurentia!

A "USGS (Now BAMONA) 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 also forward sightings to BAMONA.

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 catalpae WO, the Catalpa Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is yellowish brown with no white markings, but there are indistinct black lines and dashes. The cell spot is gray with a black outline and the upperside of the hindwing is yellowish brown with obscure lines.
Catalpa is the larval host.

Ceratomia undulosa WO/MB, 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 Hennepin County. This is one we have on P.E.I.

Lintneria eremitus WO, 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.

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. 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 canadensis WO, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere. The absence of the white spot on each forewing and the more brownish coloration serve to separate canadensis from S. poecila. Larval hosts are white ash (Fraxinus americana) and blueberry (Vaccinium). near southern range limit

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. 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 gordius WO, the Apple Sphinx

This species is not reported in Hennepin.

Note the pm line, absent in Sphinx poecila which generally flies more to the north.

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.

Sphinx poecila WO, the Poecila Sphinx

If you have blueberries in the woods, then you might have the Poecila Sphinx. They are pretty common here on Prince Edward Island, but don't fly too far west of Wisconsin.

Sphinx vashti WO, the Snowberry Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing has a narrow black subterminal line bordered by a white inverted V-shaped line on the outside, and a black line running inwards from the apex of the wing.
It is most often found in montane woodlands and along streamcourses.

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/MB, 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 cerisyi WO, the Cerisyi's Sphinx

Smerinthus cerisyi is found in the southern regions of all Canadian provinces and in northern border states. The One-eyed Sphinx is also found along the U.S. west coast, eastward to the Rockies. At my home in Montague, P.E.I., Canada, they are quite common.

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 Hennepin County.

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

See Hemaris comparisons.

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

This moth is widely distributed and is now confirmed in Hennepin County.

Hemaris diffinis, Plymouth, August 5, 2009, 12;50 pm, Eric Foss.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx

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

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO/MB, 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

Amphion floridensis, Minneapolis, June 4, Mark Black

Darapsa choerilus WO, 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 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/MB, 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.

Deidamia inscriptum larva on grape, June 18, 2006, Mark Black

Hyles euphorbiae MB, 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.
Mark Black confirms with larval images, September 2005.

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 WO/AG/TB/ES, the White-lined Sphinx. This species is now recorded in Hennepin County, courtesy of Ari Greenmen, Theresa Baker and Erik Stahl.

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

Hyles lineata, Saint Louis Park, May 28, 2012, courtesy of Erik Stahl.

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.

Hyles euphorbiae tail and head, courtesy of Mark Black, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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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