Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, September 16, 2008

Hunterdon County, New Jersey

Darapsa pholus (now Darapsa choerilus)
by Bill Oehlke.

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke. Comments, suggestions and/or additional information/sightings are welcomed by Bill.

I spent my teen years in Pottersville, New Jersey. I was on the Hunterdon County side of the Black River. Just across the river was Morris County, and about half a mile upstream one could enter Warren County.

My father was primarily interested in Saturniidae and we had a large blacklight mounted above a sheet on the river side of the house.

While Dad was doing the silkmoths, I took an interest in the Sphingidae and studied Holland's Moth Book, trying to identify the moths that would arrive at the light.

I still (2005) have a shadow box display of nine species (Lintneria eremitus, Sphinx gordius, Paonias myops, Smerinthus jamaicensis, Darapsa choerilus, Darapsa myron, Hyles lineata, Sphecodina abbottii and Xylophanes tersa) that I captured and spread in Pottersville in the early 1960s.

I can also remember the large Manduca quinquemaculatus and Manduca sexta that were attracted to the light. My grandfather's tomato plants were often savaged by the larvae.

Some evenings large numbers of Eumorpha pandorus would arrive almost simultaneously, and Paonias excaecata were also common.

During the day, Hemaris thysbe could be seen nectaring at my mother's butterfly bush and the other flowers in her garden.

My first attempt at rearing Sphingidae from eggs involved Amorpha juglandis, from a female taken at the same light.

Forty-six Sphingidae species are listed for New Jersey on the U.S.G.S. website (now BAMONA). Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Hunterdon County (ten 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 either observed this moth myself in Hunterdon County, or I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present.

A "USGS" indicates the moth is reported on the USGS 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.

Many thanks to Karen Simister who provide the Ceratomia undulosa image below.

Ceratomia undulosa, Hunterdon County, New Jersey,
August 12, 2017, courtesy of Karen Simister.

Visit Hunterdon County Sphingidae Larvae: Caterpillars; Hornworms

Visit New Jersey 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 WO, the Elm Sphinx or Four-horned Sphinx. This moth is not officially recorded in Hunterdon, but I suspect it is present.

Larvae feed on Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), and cherry (Prunus).

Ceratomia catalpae WO, the Catalpa Sphinx. This species is not officially recorded for Hunterdon.

I have seen them in great numbers in other New Jersey counties.

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

Ceratomia undulosa WO/USGS, the Waved Sphinx. This moth is recorded in Hunterdon. I have seen them as far north as P.E.I. in eastern Canada, and took them in New Jersey.
It is named for the wavy lines on the forewings.

Ceratomia undulosa, August 12, 2017, Karen Simister

Dolba hyloeus USGS, the Pawpaw Sphinx. This moth is recorded in Hunterdon. It is widely reported in other New Jersey counties and in Connecticut.

Lapara bombycoides WO, the Northern Pine Sphinx. This moth is not reported from Hunterdon County, but if you have pines, you probably have this species. It flies on P.E.I.

Lapara coniferarum WO, the Southern Pine Sphinx. This moth is not reported from Hunterdon County, but it is widely reported in New Jersey and along the coast in Connecticut and Masachusetts.
If you've got pines, this species is likely present.

Lintneria eremitus WO, the Hermit Sphinx.

This species is confirmed for Hunterdon by Bill Oehlke. Generally it is not widely reported. Larval hosts are various species of beebalm (Monarda), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), and sage (Salvia).

Manduca jasminearum USGS, the Ash Sphinx. This species is officially recorded in Hunterdon County.

It is reported in New Jersey, southeastern New York and Connecticut.

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth. This species is has been recorded by Bill Oehlke in Hunterdon, and has been seen in nearby counties. I suspect if you grow tomatoes, you are likely to encounter it.

Manduca rustica WO, the Rustic Sphinx. This species is not officially recorded in Hunterdon, but it has been taken in other counties in northeastern and central eastern New Jersey. I would not be surprised to get a report. Look for three large yellow spots on each side of the abdomen.

Manduca sexta WO, the Carolina Sphinx. This species is recorded in Hunterdon by Bill Oehlke. If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it, though.

Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.

Paratrea plebeja WO, 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.Questionable

Sphinx chersis USGS, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx. This species is reported in Hunterdon. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, Wild Cherry Sphinx.

This species is not officially reported in Hunterdon. We have them on P.E.I., but I do not see them nearly as frequently as I see the other Sphingidae.

Sphinx franckii USGS, Franck's Sphinx Moth.

This species is reported in Hunterdon. Generally it is not widely reported anywhere.
Similar to S. kalmiae but lacks the dark bar along the fw inner margin.

Sphinx gordius WO, the Apple Sphinx. This species is confirmed in Hunterdon by Bill Oehlke. It is widely reported in neighbouring counties.

Note the pm line, absent in Sphinx poecila which flies more to the north.

The terminal area, especially near the anal angle, is much darker than in S. poecila.

Sphinx kalmiae WO, the Laurel Sphinx

This species is not officially reported in Hunterdon. I have taken them on P.E.I., Canada, and reared them on lilac.

At rest the hindwings are usually completely covered.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO, the Walnut Sphinx. This moth is fairly widely reported to the north and east and I have taken them in Hunterdon. 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 WO, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx. This moth is not officially recorded in Hunterdon County. It is fond of poplars and willows. They are common on Prince Edward Island.

Paonias astylus WO, the Huckleberry Sphinx. This appears to be an uncommon species.

They are not officially recorded for Hunterdon.

Paonias excaecata WO, the Blinded Sphinx. Named for the dull grey-blue spot (minus dark pupil) in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is common in Hunterdon County. I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as Florida.

Paonias myops WO, the Small-eyed Sphinx. Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is common in Hunterdon County. I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as Florida.

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, 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:

Hemaris thysbe WO, the Hummingbird Clearwing. This interesting day flier is copnfirmed in Hunterdon and is widely reported to the north, east and west. 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 widespread and has been officially recorded in Hunterdon. It has been confirmed in northwestern N.J. and southeastern N.Y. and Connecticut.

Hemaris gracilis WO, the Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing. This day-flying moth is less common and has not been recorded in Hunterdon, but has been seen in northeastern N.J. and southeastern N.Y.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon USGS, the Achemon Sphinx. This moth is officially reported for Hunterdon, and it is fairly often reported along the coast from southern New Jersey to central Maine. Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx.

Eumorpha pandorus USGS/ WO, the Pandorus Sphinx. If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you probably have this species. I have often seen them in Pottersville.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis USGS, the Nessus Sphinix

This day flier is widely distributed. If you have Virginia Creeper, you probably have the Nessus Sphinx. It is reported from Hunterdon.
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.
They are common in Hunterdon County.

Darapsa myron WO, Virginia Creeper Sphinx, Grapevine Sphinx. Not recorded on the U.S.G.S. site for Hunterdon County, but I can confirm its presence. It is widely reported as far north as southern Maine. If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this species nearby.

Darapsa versicolor WO, Hydrangea Sphinx. If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the Hydrangea Sphinx.
It has not been reported in Hunterdon County, but I suspect it is present, but probably uncommon.

Deidamia inscriptum USGS, the Lettered Sphinx. This species has been officially recorded in Hunterdon.

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

Hyles lineata WO, the White-lined Sphinx. This species has been taken in Pottersville. It has strong migrating tendancies from much further south. There are records from New Hampshire and Maine.

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. I have taken it is Pottersville.

Xylophanes tersa WO, the Tersa Sphinx. This moth is much more common to the south. It is a strong migrant, however. I have taken a specimen in Hunterdon County.

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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