Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 6, 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Duane McDowell, August, 2005
Updated as per personal communication with Emily and Iris Mirski (Deidamia inscriptum); July 6, 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Emily Mirski (Amphion floridensis, May 2010); July 8, 2010

Ramsey County, Minnesota
Sphingidae


Hyles lineata, Roseville, Minnesota, August 9, 2005, courtey of Duane McDowell.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Duane McDowell who sent a sighting of Hemaris diffinis from Roseville, August 16, 2005 and an image/sighting of Hyles lineata, August 9, 2005.

Twelve Sphingidae species are listed for Minnesota on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Ramsey County (only four: Elm sphinx, Great ash sphinx, Ello sphinx, and White-lined sphinx, 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

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.

Visit Ramsey County Sphingidae Larvae.

Visit Minnesota Catocala: Underwing Moths.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Ceratomia amyntor USGS, 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. The upperside of the hindwing is light brown and has a dark brown band along the outer margin.

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, the Waved Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale brownish gray with wavy black and white lines and a black-outlined white cell spot. The upperside of the hindwing is gray with diffuse darker bands.

Lapara bombycoides WO, the Northern Pine Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is gray with heavy black bands. The upperside of the hindwing is brownish gray with no markings.

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. The upperside of the hindwing is banded with brown and white and has two well-separated median zigzag bands.

Manduca sexta WO, the Carolina Sphinx: The abdomen usually has six pairs of yellow bands, broken across the back. The sixth set of markings is quite small. The upperside of the forewing has indistinct black, brown, and white markings. If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it. Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant. generally more southerly

Sphinx canadensis WO, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx
The absence of the white spot on each forewing and the more brownish coloration serve to separate S. canadensis from S. poecilus. The hindwing fringe also tends to be white on poecilus and checkered brownish on canadensis. maybe, generally more northerly

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. The upperside of the hindwing is black with blurry pale gray bands. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

The costal area is light grey in the basal and median areas. The terminal and marginal areas are also light grey.

The rest of the forewing is dark slatey grey.

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. unlikely, generally more northerly

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO, the Walnut Sphinx

The adults are also highly variable; sometimes wings of an individual may be all one color or may have several colors, ranging from pale to dark brown, and may have a white or pink tinge. Patterns range from faint to pronounced.

Pachysphinx modesta WO the Modest Sphinx or 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 WO, 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 WO, 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 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, 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 WO, 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.

Hemaris diffinis DM, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth

This moth is widely distributed and is confirmed by Duane McDowell for Ramsey County.

See Hemaris comparison, August 16, 2005, Roseville, Duane McDowell.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis NJS/VS, 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, nectaring at 5am, St. Paul, June 17, 2007, Neala J. Schleuning
Amphion floridensis nectaring at lilacs, Arden Hills, June 14-19, 2008, Valerie Sweidan.
Amphion floridensis, Saint Paul, May 2010, Emily Mirski.

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
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 EIM, 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, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or 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, 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. maybe

Hyles lineata CC/USGS, the White-lined Sphinx

The forewing upperside is dark olive brown with paler brown along the costa and outer margin, a narrow tan band running from the wing tip to the base, and white streaks along the veins.

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

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.




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