Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Cristine Charlesworth (Hyles lineata, Rochester, August 21, 2006)
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, August 28, 2008
Updated as per BAMONA, September 28, 2013
Updated as per personal communication with Alex Hagen (Eumorpha pandorus, Rochester, July 25, 2014); July 26, 2014

Olmsted County, Minnesota

Hyles lineata feeding on primrose, Rochester, Olmsted County,
August 21, 2006, courtesy of Cristine Charlesworth.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Cristine Charlesworth who sent me the image of the Hyles lineata larva from Rochester, Olmsted County, August 21, 2006, as depicted at the top of this page.

Cristine writes, "I visited your website, and I was wondering if you could identify this caterpillar for me. I found two the same size (~2.5 inches long) munching on my primrose plant this evening in Rochester, Minnesota. I thought it might be the white-lined sphinx that you note can have quite different patterns. I was intrigued by the orange spike which I think is at the tail-end of critter."

Only twelve Sphingidae species are listed for Minnesota on the U.S.G.S. website as of August 2006. All twelve of the species are reported in Olmsted County. It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you are likely to encounter. BAMONA has updated the count to thirty-seven species encountered in Minnesota.

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. Olmstead County is right on the range border (Tuttle's maps) for many species listed as maybe.

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 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.

Please also forward your sightings to BAMONA, an excellent online resource.

Visit Olmsted County Sphingidae: Larvae (caterpillars).

Visit Minnesota Catocala: Underwing Moths.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Ceratomia amyntor USGS, Elm Sphinx, Four-horned Sphinx: Brown with dark brown and white markings including white costal area near wing base, dark streaks along veins, white spot in cell. Hw light brown, dark brown band along outer margin.

Ceratomia catalpae WO, Catalpa Sphinx: Yellowish brown with no white markings, indistinct black lines, dashes. Cell spot gray with black outline, hindwing is yellowish brown with obscure lines. Catalpa.

Ceratomia undulosa WO, Waved Sphinx: Pale brownish gray (sometimes dark) with wavy black and white lines and black-outlined white cell spot. Hw gray with diffuse darker bands.

Lapara bombycoides USGS, Northern Pine Sphinx: The upperside of the forewing is gray with heavy black bands. Hw brownish gray with no markings.

Lintneria eremitus WO, 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 USGS Five-spotted Hawkmoth. Abdomen usually has five but sometimes six pairs of yellow bands. Fw: blurry brown and gray. Hw banded with brown and white and has two well-separated median zigzag bands.

Manduca sexta WO, Carolina Sphinx: Abdomen usually has six pairs of yellow bands, broken across back. Sixth set quite small. Fw: indistinct black, brown, white markings. If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it. Larvae can strip a tomato plant.

Sphinx canadensis WO, Canadian Sphinx: Absence of white spot on each forewing, more brownish coloration serve to separate S. canadensis from S. poecila. Hw fringe also tends to be white on poecila; checkered brownish on canadensis. maybe

Sphinx chersis USGS, Northern Ash Sphinx, Great Ash Sphinx: Fw soft dark gray to blue-gray with series of black dashes, one of which reaches wing tip. Hw: black with blurry pale gray bands. Ash, lilac, privet, cherry, quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, Wild Cherry Sphinx: Costal area light grey in basal, median areas. Terminal, marginal areas also light grey. Rest of forewing dark slatey grey.

Sphinx poecila WO, Poecila Sphinx: If you have blueberries, then you might have poecila. unlikely

Sphinx vashti WO, Snowberry Sphinx: Fw: narrow black subterminal line bordered by white inverted V-shaped line on outside, black line running inwards from apex of wing. Most often found in montane woodlands, along streamcourses.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO, 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.

Pachysphinx modesta WO, Modest Sphinx. Poplar Sphinx: This moth has a large, heavy body, and females can be remarkably plump. Lines are diffuse and the forewing has darker and lighter grey to brown areas.

Paonias excaecata WO, the Blinded Sphinx

Named for the dull grey-blue spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and should be present in Olmsted County.

I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island.

Paonias myops USGS, the Small-eyed Sphinx

Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is confirmed in Olmsted County.

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

Smerinthus cerisyi USGS, the Cerisyi's Sphinx

At my home in Montague, P.E.I., Canada, they are quite common. This is a very easy species to rear.

Smerinthus jamaicensis USGS, 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:

Aellopos titan WO, the Titan Sphinx: The body is dark brown with a wide white stripe across the abdomen. The wings are dark brown. The upperside of the hindwing has pale patches along the costa and inner margin. rare summer/fall stray

Erinnyis ello, the Ello Sphinx, USGS

The abdomen has very distinct gray and black bands. Adults nectar at dusk so you may see them in the garen at that time. probably only as a stray

See Hemaris comparisons.

Hemaris thysbe USGS, the Hummingbird Clearwing: This interesting day flier is confirmed for Olmsted County. They are widely distributed in the east from P.E.I. to Florida.

Hemaris diffinis USGS, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth: This moth is widely distributed and is confirmed for Olmsted County.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx

Eumorpha pandorus WO/AH, 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 where they have not previously been reported.

Eumorpha pandorus, Rochester, jJly 25, 2014, Alex Hagen

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, 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.

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 USGS, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx: The forewing upperside is dark brown to pale yellowish gray, with an olive tint. On the costal margin there is a dark rectangular patch, although this may be reduced or absent. The upperside of the hindwing is pale 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. The upperside of the hindwing is orange-brown with a dark brown outer margin and median line.

Hyles gallii WO, Bedstraw Hawk Moth, Gallium Sphinx: This species is not reported in Minnesota by USGS, but I expect it is present. Some years I see them on P.E.I., some years, I do not.

Hyles euphorbiae WO, Spurge Hawk Moth: Body light brown with various white and dark brown markings, while wings have conspicuous tan, brown, pink or red color pattern. maybe

Hyles lineata CC/USGS, White-lined Sphinx: Dark olive brown with paler brown along costa and outer margin, narrow tan band running from wing tip to base, white streaks along veins.

Hyles lineata larvae, August 21, 2006, courtesy of Cristine Charlesworth.

Sphecodina abbottii WO, 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.

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