Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, June 19, 2012
Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Russ Burcham (Manduca sexta adult and larvae; Amphion floridensis adult); June 19, 2012
Updated as per BAMONA; June 20, 2012

Dunklin County, Missouri

Manduca sexta larvae, Kennett, Dunklin County, Missouri,
July, 2006, courtesy of Russ Burcham.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Russ Burcham who sent me pictures of Manduca sexta and Amphion floridensis from Kennett, Dunklin County, Missouri.

Russ writes, June 19, 2012, "The Ombudsman at Missouri Dept of Conservation referred me to you.
"I would appreciate your help in identifying the moths in these pics.
"#1 attachment is a moth I caught in my garden last year when hornworms were destroying my tomatoes. I thought it was a Sphinx moth.
"#2 attachment is a moth I photographed recently. Your website identifies it as a Sphinx moth.
"#3 attachment represents stressed hornworms digging into the soil to pupate. I send this just as a matter of interest.
"Perhaps there are two kinds of Sphinx moths. I await your appraisal.
"Thank you for your attention."

I reply (with dates later supplied by Russ), "Russ,
"Burrowing larvae and one greyish moth with large orange yellow dots on side are both of Manduca sexta, a sphinx moth. (Caught July 2006).
"The other brownish moth without the large yellow-orange dots on side of abdomen is Amphion floridensis, another species of Sphingidae. ( Photographed June 17, 2012).
"My Missouri Sphingidae page is at http://www.silkmoths.bizland.com/MOsphinx.htm.
"I wish permission to post images and or sighting details, credited to you, to a Dunklin County page which I would shortly create.
"Can you be more precise with dates, even if only to the month?"

Russ replies, "In your note below I have highlighted the dates you requested. You are welcome to use the photos. Sorry the recent photo is not so good.

"An interesting thing I found was that if the adult hornworms are plucked and put in a jar overnight, they become stressed enough to trigger the drive to burrow. I put them in a container of soil to watch the process. The bright green worms changed color to deeper green and produced a surface exudate. Immediately on release from the jar, they went to work burrowing. After about ten days when the container of soil was dumped to examine the progress, some of the worms had already gone into the brown pupa stage with the vigorous wiggle tail. Others were in various stages of change. I was not able to observe the morphosis to moth. I think I am correct that would have taken quite a bit of time from that moment to the next spring/summer.

"I wish you success in your Sphingidae page venture."

Plant some moonflowers. The Sphingidae love them and will provide you with some wonderment and excitement. Some of these moths fly at dusk, some in the dark of the night and some even in brood daylight. A nice butterfly bush will bring in the Hemaris species as well as Amphion floridensis. Mints, phlox, evening primrose, four 0'clocks, French lilacs are also powerful attractants

Fourty-nine Sphingidae species are listed for Missouri on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Dunklion County (twelve on BAMONA as of June 20, 2012). It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you are likely to encounter.

Moths that I expect may be in Dunklin County, although not officially recorded, are indicated by a "WO".

A "BAMONA" indicates the moth is reported on the BAMONA website and/or 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 send your sightings to BAMONA, an excellent on-line resource.

The night-blooming moon flower will attract many Sphingidae at dusk and into the night.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, BS Pink-spotted hawkmoth,

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).

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. The larvae feed in large groups and are much more spectacular than the moths.
Catalpa is the larval host.

Ceratomia hageni WO, Hagen's Sphinx or Osage Orange Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is gray with a green tint and has dark indistinct wavy lines, and pale gray patches at the wing tip and along the costa.

Ceratomia undulosa BAMONA, 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.

Dolba hyloeus WO, the Pawpaw Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is dark brown with a dusting of white scales. Some moths have patches of reddish or yellowish brown on the wings.

Manduca jasminearum WO, the Ash Sphinx

The upperside of forewing is gray to grayish brown with a black line running from the middle of the costa to the middle of the outer margin; the line may be broken near the margin. There is a splash of brown around the cell spot. The upperside of the hindwing is mostly black, with gray at the lower margin.

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

I suspect if you grow tomatoes, you are likely to encounter Manduca quinquemaculata.

Manduca rustica WO, the Rustic Sphinx

Look for three large yellow spots on each side of the abdomen. The upperside of the forewing is yellowish brown to deep chocolate brown with a dusting of white scales and zigzagged black and white lines.

Manduca sexta RB, 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, Kennett, adult, July 2006, Russ Burcham

Paratrea plebeja BAMONA, the Plebeian Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is gray with indistinct black and white markings. There is a series of black dashes from the base to the tip, and a small white cell spot.

Sphinx canadensis WO, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere, but it might be present in Stoddard County.

Larval hosts are white ash (Fraxinus americana) and blueberry (Vaccinium).

Sphinx chersis WO, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx

This species might be present in Stoddard County. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

The costa rgion in the basal and median areas is light grey and so is the terminal area of the forewing. The rest of the forewing is dark slatey-grey.

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.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis BAMONA, 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. See the file for the female; she is different.

Pachysphinx modesta WO, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx
This moth has a large, heavy body, and females can be remarkably plump. Forewings are grey and brown with diffuse lines.

Paonias astylus WO, the Huckleberry Sphinx

Generally, Paonias astylus, the Huckleberry Sphinx (wingspan 55-65 mm), ranges from Maine south to Florida, west to Missouri and Mississippi.

Paonias excaecata BAMONA, the Blinded Sphinx

Named for the dull grey-blue spot (minus dark pupil) in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution in the eastern United States. I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as Florida.

Paonias myops BAMONA, the Small-eyed Sphinx

Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is probably found in many Missouri counties.

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

Smerinthus jamaicensis BAMONA, the Twin-spotted Sphinx

This moth is widely distributed and fairly common.

Along the East Coast, it flies from P.E.I. to Florida.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos fadus WO, 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. very rare stray

Aellopos titan WO, 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. stray

Erinnyis ello WO, the Ello Sphinx

The abdomen has very distinct gray and black bands. The female's forewing upperside is pale gray with a few dark dots near the outer margin. stray

Erinnyis obscura, the Obscure Sphinx, WO

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. stray

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next two species.

Hemaris thysbe BAMONA, 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.

Hemaris diffinis BAMONA, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth
Adults mimic bumblebees and are quite variable. The wings are basically clear, with dark brown to brownish-orange veins, bases and edges. The thorax is golden-brown to dark greenish-brown. The abdomen tends to be dark (black) with 1-2 yellow segments before the tip.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx

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

Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx.

Eumorpha fasciatus USGS, the Banded Sphinx
The upperside of the moth is dark pinkish brown. Each forewing has a lighter brown band along the costa, and sharp pinkish white bands and streaks. Larvae feed upon primrose-willow, Ludwigia (water primrose) and other plants in the evening primrose family.

Eumorpha pandorus BAMONA, 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 not previously reported.

Eumorpha vitis WO, the Vine Sphinx

The upperside of the moth is dark pinkish brown. Each forewing has a lighter brown band along the costa, and sharp pinkish white bands and streaks. The hindwing has a pink patch on the inner margin. stray

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis RB, 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, Kennett, June 17, 2012, Russ Burcham

Darapsa choerilus BAMONA, the Azalea Sphinx

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. unlikely

Darapsa myron BAMONA, 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 versicolor USGS, the Hydrangea Sphinx

If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you might have the Hydrangea Sphinx. rare

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. Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus) all serve as larval hosts.

Hyles lineata BAMONA, the White-lined Sphinx

This species has strong migrating tendancies from much further south. There are records from New Hampshire and Maine.

Proserpinus guarae WO, the Proud Sphinx

The abdomen may have a pale band running across the rear. The wings are brown. The forewing sometimes has a greenish tint and may have the median area darker. The lines bordering the median area are curved. The hindwing has a reddish brown border. slight possibility

Proserpinus juanita WO, the 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

Sphecodina abbottii WO, the Abbott's Sphinx

This moth is very much under reported across the United States. It is a rapid day flier so is probably not in too many collections. Grape is a popular larval host.

Xylophanes tersa WO, the Tersa Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale brown with lavender-gray at the base and has dark brown lengthwise lines throughout.

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