Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America; August 2, 2014
Updated as per BAMONA; August 2, 2014

Traverse County, Minnesota

Thirty-seven Sphingidae species are listed for Minnesota on the BAMONA website as of August 2, 2014. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Traverse County.

It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you are likely to encounter.

I (William Oehlke) have included many species not on the BAMONA list for Minnesota; I believe they are or might be present.

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 send your sightings to BAMONA, an excellent on-line resource.

Visit Traverse County Sphingidae Larvae: Caterpillars; Hornworms

Visit Minnesota Catocala: Underwing Moths

If you are travelling, you can find active Sphingidae checklists for all countries in North, Central, and South America and the Caribbbean via the links at North, Central, South American Sphingidae checklists

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Ceratomia amyntor, Elm Sphinx; 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, 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, Waved Sphinx. Pale brownish gray (occasionally dark) with wavy black and white lines and a black-outlined white cell spot. HW gray with diffuse darker bands. Some individuals are very dark, almost black, and others are light yellowish brown.

Lintneria eremitus, 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.

Lapara bombycoides, 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. The underside is rather plain.

Manduca quinquemaculatus, Five-spotted Hawkmoth. Abdomen usually has five but sometimes six pairs of yellow bands. Forewing is blurry brown and gray. If you grow tomatoes, you might encounter it.

Sphinx canadensis, 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).

Sphinx chersis, Northern Ash Sphinx; Great Ash Sphinx: 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, Wild Cherry Sphinx. Dull slate grey with considerable light grey scaling in broad band along costa about 3/4 of distance from body toward apex. Median lines: black, thin. Wavy, diffuse dark subterminal line, inwardly bordered by white, and whitish bar in terminal area, paralleling outer margin.

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

Sphinx kalmiae, 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 luscitiosa , Canadian Sphinx or Clemen's Sphinx: Fw: yellowish gray in males; pale gray with a faint yellow tint in females. Dark border on outer margin widens as it approaches inner margin. Hw deep yellow in males, pale yellow in females; both with wide black border.

Sphinx poecila, 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, Snowberry Sphinx. Forewing has narrow black subterminal line bordered by white inverted V-shaped line on outside, and black line running inwards from apex of wing. It is most often found in montane woodlands and along streamcourses.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis, 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, 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, the Blinded Sphinx. Named for the dull grey-blue spot in the hindwing, this moth has a very wide distribution. Note very irregular forewing outer margin.

Paonias myops, the Small-eyed Sphinx. Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a very wide distribution.
The forewing outer margin is not nearly as irregular as in excaecata.

Smerinthus cerisyi, 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. Note: whitish subapical arc does not return to outer margin.

Smerinthus jamaicensis, Twin-spotted Sphinx. Closely resembles Smerinthus cerisyi, but jamaicensis is much smaller with larger blue patches on more vibrant, deeper purple in lower wings. Note: whitish subapical arc returns completely to outer margin, forming letter "c".

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos titan, Titan Sphinx. Dark brown body with wide white stripe across abdomen. Wings: dark brown. The upperside of the hindwing has pale patches along the costa and inner margin. unlikely, rare stray

Hemaris diffinis, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth. This moth is widely distributed and is found in Cook County. Note black legs and black on abdomen.

Hemaris gracilis, The Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing: This day flier is not commonly reported. Note red and red on dorsal surface of abdomen.

Hemaris thysbe, the Hummingbird Clearwing. It is not difficult to see why many gardeners would mistake an Hemaris thysbe moth for a small hummingbird as it hovers, sipping nectar from flowers through a long feeding tube. Note off-white legs.

See Hemaris comparisons.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon, the Achemon Sphinx

Forewings tan (often with pinkish tint) with large dark brown patches. Hindwings pink with brown outer margin.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis, 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, Azalea Sphinx. Orangey brown forewings. The lower wings of this hawkmoth are a solid brownish-orange, matching the body colour. You will often see this species listed as Darapsa pholus, especially in older literature.

Darapsa myron, Virginia Creeper Sphinx; Grapevine Sphinx: If you have foodplants indicated in common names, you might have this species nearby. Lower wings orange. The inner edge of dark postmedian band is outwardly quite convex. Some individuals are orangey-brown.

Deidamia inscriptum, Lettered Sphinx. Forewing outer margin deeply scalloped. Light brown with dark brown markings. Small black and white spot near wing tip. Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus) all serve as larval hosts.

Hyles euphorbiae, 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. Range appears to be expanding

Hyles gallii, Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx.

Relatively thick, very irregular, transverse, tan bar on dark brown forewing. Greyish outer margin.

Hyles lineata, the White-lined Sphinx. This species is not officially recorded in Cook County. It is a strong migrator from the south, and probably appears late summer or early fall.

Proserpinus juanita, Juanita Sphinx. The upperside of the forewing is pale gray-green with a deep green-brown median area and a white dash at the wing tip. rare

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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