Nobles County, Minnesota
Sphingidae

Eumorpha achemon larva, courtesy of David Bygott.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Tom Middagh who sent me sighting/capture records from 1970's - 1980's of many Sphingidae species from Nobles County. The same species should be present today, although some are strays.

I asked Tom about his favourite Sphinx.

Tom wrote back to me,

"As for a favorite sphinx, I will have to go with a Eumorpha achemon. I had a lot of fun as a kid finding and raising these from a grape vine in front of our house. There were about five years that it had established itself here, and it was near common -- incredible big, cool-looking caterpillars producing a a unique, beautiful moth.

"I have collected everything with six legs since I was able to carry a net, 1965 to present. Never lost the fascination of looking for butterflies, moths and beetles. I am quite proud of my collection. It is not full of perfectly mounted perfect specimens, but has been a great joy and is full of memories, to be worked on and added to when ever possible. Sometimes it's a challenge finding new species in this farming country but seems like there is always a new surprise to keep me looking and learning. I am always happy to share info with others of like interest."

Tom collected the following female Ceratomia amyntor on June 20, 2007. The right forewing has an unusual outer margin. It is hard to say if it is a recessive throwback or a deformity. There does seem to be some damage to the right wing so possibly vein fluids were restricted during the inflation process.

Twelve Sphingidae species are listed for Minnesota on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Nobles County (none are 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 have been confirmed by Tom Middagh.

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, TM 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).

Agrius cingulata, September 24, 1981, Tom Middagh

Ceratomia amyntor TM, 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 amyntor May 29, 1976, June 20, 2007, Tom Middagh

Ceratomia undulosa TM, the Waved Sphinx

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

Ceratomia undulosa, August 22, 1982, Tom Middagh

Manduca quinquemaculata TM 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 quinquemaculata, September 28, 1979, Tom Middagh

Manduca sexta TM, 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.

Manduca sexta, July 30, 1976, Tom Middagh

Sphinx chersis TM, 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 chersis, July 1, 1977, Tom Middagh

Sphinx drupiferarum TM, 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 chersis, July 17, 2004, Tom Middagh

Sphinx kalmiae TM, 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 kalmiae July 2, 1983, Tom Middagh

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx modesta TM the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

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

Pachysphinx modesta, June 20, 1979, Tom Middagh

Paonias excaecata TM, 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 excaecata, June 20, 1979, Tom Middagh

Paonias myops TM, 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.

Paonis myops, June 28, 1976, Tom Middagh

Smerinthus jamaicensis TM, 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.

Smerinthus jamaicensis, July 25, 1976, Tom Middagh

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos titan TM, the Titan Sphinx.

The body is dark brown with a wide white stripe across the abdomen. The wings are dark brown. It is very similar to above species, but the upperside of the hindwing has pale patches along the costa and inner margin. rare fall stray

Aellopos titan, September 12, 1979, Tom Middagh.

Erinnyis ello, the Ello Sphinx, TM

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

Erinnyis obscura, the Obscure Sphinx, TM

During the night adults nectar at flowers, including bouncing bet (Saponaria officinalis) and Asystasia gangetica beginning at dusk.
July and August are flight times in the southern states. rare fall stray

Erinnyis obscura, October 2, 1979, Tom Middagh.

Hemaris thysbe TM, the Hummingbird Clearwing

This interesting day flier is not confirmed for Ramsey County.

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

See Hemaris comparisons.
Hemaris thysbe, June 19, 1976, Tom Middagh.

Hemaris diffinis WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth

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

See Hemaris comparison

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon TM, the Achemon Sphinx

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

Eumorpha achemon, August 1, 1976, Tom Middagh.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis TM, 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.

Amphion floridensis, June 11, 1992, Tom Middagh.

Darapsa myron TM, 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.

Darapsa myron, June 7, 1977, Tom Middagh.


Deidamia inscriptum TM, 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 inscripta, May 21, 1977, Tom Middagh.

Hyles euphorbiae TM, 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.
Tom Middagh confirms with adult in trap, July 20, 2007.

Hyles euphorbiae, July 20, 2007, Tom Middagh.

Hyles gallii TM, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is not reported in Minnesota on USGS, but Tom Middagh confirms its presence in Becker and Nobles counties.

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

Hyles gallii, July 11, 1997, Tom Middagh.


Hyles lineata TM, 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.

Hyles lineata, June 2, 1975, Tom Middagh.

Xylophanes tersa TM, the Tersa Sphinx

This moth is much more common to the south. It is a strong migrant, however, and may establish itself in Nobles County periodically.

Xylophanes tersa, August 3, 1975, Tom Middagh.




Use your browser "Back" button to return to the previous page.

This page is brought to you by Bill Oehlke and the WLSS. Pages are on space rented from Bizland. If you would like to become a "Patron of the Sphingidae Site", contact Bill.

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