Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, August 2, 2011
Updated as per BAMONA, August 2, 2011
Dedicated as per personal communication with Jean Robocker, Kalispell, May 25, 2015

Flathead County, Montana

Smerinthus ophthalmica in copula, Kalispell, Flathead County, Montana,
May 24, 2015, courtesy of Jean Robocker.

This page is dedicated to Jean Robocker who provides the images of Smerinthus ophthalmica in copula, top and bottom of this page.

Prior to 2010 this moth would have been identified as the very similar Smerinthus cerisyi.

Schmidt & Anweiler (2010) put forth the argument, based on observations across a broad zone of contact of these moths in Alberta, and a 3.5% difference in the sequence of the cox1 gene of their mitochondrial DNA, that ophthalmica deserves its own status as a distinct species.

Based on the many images of cerisyi and ophthalmica which have been sent to me over the years, I find the differences between the two species to be consistent. I believe all three Smerinthus species listed in the thumbnail section occur in Montana, and probably in Flathead County.

Twelve Sphingidae species are listed for Montana on the BAMONA checklist as of August 2, 2011. I have added some species to Montana which I feel are likely present. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Flathead County (One on BAMONA as of August 2, 2011; listed as Hemaris diffinis, but I think more likely Hemaris thetis).

It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you have encountered.

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. A BAM indicates the moth is reported on the BAMONA website and/or in Moths of Western North America, #2. Distribution of Sphingidae of Western North America, revised, 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 image, via email to Bill Oehlke.

Visit Flathead County Sphingidae Larvae: Caterpillars; Hornworms

Visit Montana Catocala: Underwing Moths

Visit Sphingidae Checklists for all countries in North, Central and South America

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Sphinx chersis WO??, but unlikely, 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. Ash, lilac, privet, cherry, quaking aspen. (generally more easterly)

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

Sphinx drupiferarum larvae hide in the day and feed primarily on cherry, plum, and apple at night.

Sphinx luscitiosa WO?? , Canadian Sphinx; Clemen's Sphinx: Yellowish gray in males and pale gray with a faint yellow tint in females. In both sexes, the dark border on the outer margin widens as it approaches the inner margin. (generally more easterly)

Sphinx perelegans WO, Elegant Sphinx: Sphinx perelegans adults fly in montane woodlands and mixed chaparral-type vegetation as a single brood in the north, with adults mainly on the wing in June and July. It flies from dusk until after midnight.

Sphinx poecila WO, the Poecila Sphinx

If you have blueberries in the woods, then you probably have the Poecila Sphinx.

They are possibly in northern counties.

Sphinx vashti WO, the Snowberry Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing has a narrow black subterminal line bordered by a white inverted V-shaped line on the outside, and a black line running inwards from the apex of the wing.
It is most often found in montane woodlands and along streamcourses.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx modesta WO, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx,

This moth has a large, heavy body, and females can be remarkably plump.

Pachysphinx occidentalis WO?? , Big Poplar Sphinx: This one is quite similar to Pachysphinx modesta, with modesta being smaller and darker. There are two color forms: the upperside of the forewings is yellow brown in the pale form and dark gray in the dark form. Lines and bands are well-defined. (generally more southerly)

Paonias excaecata WO, Blinded Sphinx: The grey-blue eyespot of the hindwing gives this species its name. Larvae feed on birches, willows, cherries and oaks.

The outer edge of the forewings is quite scalloped.

Paonias myops WO, the Small-eyed Sphinx

This small species is probably widespread and common. This species ranges across North America.

The hindwings have a small blue eyespot ringed with black on a yellow background.

Smerinthus cerisyi WO, the Cerisyi's Sphinx

If you have willows and poplars nearby, you've probably got populations of the Cerisyi's Sphinx.

The hindwings are quite striking.

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. possibly

Smerinthus ophthalmica JR: Larvae feed on poplars, aspen and willows. Note different shape of double arced forewing pm line compared to the straighter pm line of cerisyi, directly above. S. ophthalmica has smoother scalloping of the fw outer margin. The dark brown patch along the forewing inner margin extends much further toward body in ophthalmica compared to cerisyi.

Smerinthus ophthalmica, Kalispell, May 24, 2015, Jean Robocker.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe

Hemaris diffinis BAMONA ( morelikley thetis), Snowberry Clearwing; Bumblebee Moth: 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 just before the end. East of Continental Divide

Hemaris thetis WO, the Thetis Clearwing or Bee Hawk Moth,

The moth flies along forest edges and in meadows, gardens and brushy fields. Day-flying adults nectar at lantana, dwarf bush honeysuckle, snowberry, orange hawkweed, thistles, lilac, Canada violet, etc. West of Continental Divide.

Macroglossini tribe

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.
probably will expand there if not already present

Hyles gallii WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is not officially reported from your county; however, if you have Gallium or Epilobium, you probably have populations of this species.

Hyles lineata WO, the White-lined Sphinx

This species is very widespread. It can be seen flying during the day, into the evening and also at night.
The highly variable larvae are often found in people's gardens.

Smerinthus ophthalmica in copula, Kalispell, Flathead County, Montana,
May 24, 2015, courtesy of Jean Robocker.

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