Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, September 5, 2008
Updated as per personal communication with Joe Garris, July 23, 2012; Sphinx poecila; June 6, 2015

Sussex County, New Jersey
Sphingidae

Darapsa versicolor Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey, courtesy of Joe Garris.

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

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Joe Garris who has sent me extensive recordings for Sussex County, New Jersey:

Manduca jasminearum, Ash Sphinx Moth, 7/15/2006;
Dolba hyloeus, Pawpaw Sphinx Moth, 6/27/2006;
Ceratomia amyntor, Elm Sphinx, 7/20/2007;
Ceratomia undulosa, Waved Sphinx Moth, 7/13/2005;
Sphinx chersis, Great Ash Sphinx Moth, 7/8/2010; 2014;
Lintneria eremitus, Eremitus Spinx, 8/1/2010;
Sphinx kalmiae, Laurel Sphinx Moth, 7/25/2006;
Sphinx gordius/poecila, Apple Sphinx Moth, 6/1/2006;
Lapara coniferarum, Pine Sphinx Moth, 7/14/2006;
Lapara bombycoides, Northern Pine Sphinx Moth, 7/11/2005;
Smerinthus jamaicensis, Twin-spotted Sphinx Moth, 6/4/2007;
Paonias excaeacata, Blinded Sphinx Moth, 7/8/2005;
Paonias myops, Small-eyed Sphinx Moth, 7/23/2005;
Paonias astylus, Huckleberry Sphinx, 6/18/2006;
Amorpha juglandis, Walnut Sphinx Moth, 5/27/2006;
Pachysphinx modesta, Big Poplar [Modest] Sphinx Moth, 5/30/2006;
Hemaris thysbe, Hummingbird Clearwing Moth, 7/28/2006;
Hemaris diffinis, Snowberry Clearwing Moth, 7/25/2007;
Eumorpha pandorus, Pandorus Sphinx Moth, 7/23/2006;
Sphecodina abbottii, Abbot's Sphinx Moth, 5/11/2007;
Deidamia inscriptum, Lettered Sphinx Moth, 5/4/2007;
Amphion floridensis, Nessus Sphinx Moth, 5/25/2007;
Darapsa versicolor, Hydrangea Sphinx Moth, 7/20/2006;
Darapsa myron, Virginia Creeper [Hog] Sphinx Moth, 7/5/2005;
Darapsa choerilus, Azalea Sphinx Moth, 5/20/2006.

Joe has recently (June 5, 2015) confirmed Sphinx poecila in Sussex County.

Tony McBride confirms Lapara bombycoides in Sussex County.

Many thanks to Jeff Swick who has recently provided some beautiful images of Sphingidae nectaring at bouncing bet.

Jeff writes, "I have looked at your wonderful website many times! What a great source of information! Over the past summer, I became fascinated with photographing sphinx moths while nectaring at a large stand of bouncing Bet (Saponaria officinalis) growing wild in northern New Jersey (Flatbrookville, Sussex County). I tentatively identified and photographed about 6-7 species over the course of three weeks in July. I thought that I would share a few photos. Feel free to use them in any way that you wish. Keep up the incredible efforts with your site!"

Sphinx kalmiae nectaring at bouncing bet, Flatbrookville, Sussex County, New Jersey,
July 2008, courtesy of Jeff Swick.

I am frequently amazed by the information and outstanding images that are submitted by many people across the United States and Canada.

Forty-four Sphingidae species are listed for New Jersey on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Sussex County (eight 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 (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present, although unreported.

A "JG" indicates the moth is reported by Joe Garris. A "TM" indicates the moth is reported by Tony McBride.

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 Sussex 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, Elm Sphinx or Four-horned Sphinx, WO/JG. 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 amyntor, Stillwater, 7/20/2007, Joe Garris

Ceratomia catalpae WO, 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.
Caterpillars feed gregariously on Catalpa species (Catalpa bignoniodes and C. speciosa).

Ceratomia undulosa JG, 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.

Ceratomia undulosa, July 13, 2005, Joe Garris.

Dolba hyloeus JG/JS, 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.

Dolba hyloeus, June 27, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris
Dolba hyloeus, Flatbrookville, July, 2008, courtesy of Jeff Swick

Lapara bombycoides TM/JG/USGS, 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.

Lapara bombycoides, July 11, 2005, courtesy of Joe Garris

Lapara coniferarum JG, Southern Pine Sphinx. The upperside is of the forewing is gray with two (sometimes one or three) black dashes near the wing center; other markings are usually diffuse. The upperside of the hindwing is a uniform brown-gray.

Lapara coniferarum, July 14, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris

Lintneria eremitus WO/JG, 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. Larval hosts are various species of beebalm (Monarda), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis) and sage (Salvia).

Lintneria eremitus, Stillwater, 8/1/2010, Joe Garris

Manduca jasminearum JG, 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.

Manduca jasminearum, July 15, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO/JG, 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. I suspect if you grow tomatoes, you are likely to encounter it.

Manduca quinquemaculatus, September 22, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris

Manduca rustica WO, Rustic Sphinx. The abdomen of the adult moth has three pairs of yellow spots. 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 WO/JG/JS, 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.

Manduca sexta, September 13, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris
Manduca sexta, Flatbrookville, July 2008, courtesy of Jeff Swick

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/JG, 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 chersis, Stillwater, July 8, 2010, 2014, courtesy of Joe Garris

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, Wild Cherry Sphinx.

Forewings, long and slender, are held close to the body when the moth is at rest. Larvae are beautiful and feed on cherry foliage.

Sphinx franckii WO, Franck's Sphinx Moth.

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

Sphinx gordius JG/USGS, Apple Sphinx. The upperside of the forewing ranges from brown with black borders through brownish gray with paler borders to pale gray with no borders. Dashes, submarginal line, and cell spot are usually weak.

Sphinx gordius, June 1, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris

Sphinx kalmiae JG/JS, 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 kalmiae, July 25, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris
Sphinx kalmiae, Flatbrookville, July, 2008, courtesy of Jeff Swick

Sphinx luscitiosa WO?? generally a more northerly species, the Canadian Sphinx or Clemen's Sphinx. The upperside of the forewing is 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.

Sphinx poecila JG, 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. It has not been confirmed elsewhere in NJ.

Sphinx poecila, Stillwater, Joe Garris

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis JG, 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.

Amorpha juglandis, May 17, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris.

Pachysphinx modesta JG, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx. This moth has a large, heavy body, and females can be remarkably plump. Larvae are fond of poplars and willows.

Pachysphinx modesta, May 30, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris.
Pachysphinx modesta, September 15, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris.

Paonias astylus JG, the Huckleberry Sphinx

This appears to be an uncommon species. The forewing outer margin is relatively smooth.

They are now officially recorded for Sussex County.

Paonias astylus, June 18, 2006, July 2007, courtesy of Joe Garris.

Paonias excaecata JG/USGS, the Blinded Sphinx

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

Paonias excaecata, July 8, 2005, courtesy of Joe Garris.
Paonias excaecata, September 15, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris.

Paonias myops USGS/JG, the Small-eyed Sphinx

Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is probably common in Sussex County.

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

Paonias myops, July 23, 2005, courtesy of Joe Garris.

Smerinthus cerisyi WO??, generaly more northerly, the Cerisyi's Sphinx or One-eyed Sphinx. Larvae feed on poplars and willows. Flight would be from late May-July as a single brood.

Smerinthus jamaicensis USGS, the Twin-spotted Sphinx. This moth is widely distributed and fairly common. Note complete, subapical, light coloured "c". In cerisyi the same marking is much less complete, not reaching the outer margin in its lower extremity.

Smerinthus jamaicensis, June 3, 2007, courtesy of Joe Garris.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris thysbe USGS/JG, 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 thysbe, July 28, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris.
Hemaris thysbe, Sussex County, September 15, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris.

Hemaris diffinis WO/JG, Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth
Adults mimic bumblebees and are quite variable, both geographically and seasonally. The thorax is golden-brown to dark greenish-brown. The abdomen tends to be dark (black) with 1-2 yellow segments just before the terminal end.

Hemaris diffinis, Stillwater, July 25, 2007, courtesy of Joe Garris

Hemaris gracilis WO, the Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing
Hemaris gracilis is distinguished from similar species by a pair of red-brown bands on the undersides of the thorax, which varies from green to yellow-green dorsally and sometimes brown with white underneath. They have a red abdomen. unlikely

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, Achemon Sphinx. Adults nectar from flowers of Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), petunia (Petunia hybrida), mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius), and phlox (Phlox). If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you probably have this species.

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

Eumorpha pandorus, July 23, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris.
Eumorpha pandorus, Flatbrookville, July 2008, courtesy of Jeff Swick.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO/JG, 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, Stillwater, July 8, 2010, courtesy of Joe Garris

Darapsa choerilus JG, 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, further south.

Darapsa choerilus, May 20, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris.
Darapsa choerilus September 15, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris

Darapsa myron JG, Virginia Creeper Sphinx; 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.

Darapsa myron, July 5, 2005, courtesy of Joe Garris.
Darapsa myron September 15, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris.

Darapsa versicolor JG, the Hydrangea Sphinx. If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the Hydrangea Sphinx.
It has now been reported in Warren County, but probably is not common.

Darapsa versicolor, July 20, 2006, courtesy of Joe Garris

Deidamia inscriptum WO/JG, Lettered Sphinx. This species has been recorded in Warren, confirmed May 2, 2006 for Sussex by Joe Garris. Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus) all serve as larval hosts.

Deidamia inscriptum, May 2, 2007, courtesy of Joe Garris

Hyles gallii WO, Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx Just to the south of Sussex County, Tony McBride reports two flights in Warren County, May and August.

Hyles lineata WO, 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.

Sphecodina abbottii WO/JG, Abbott's Sphinx; 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 (Hunterdon County). Tony McBride confirms them in Warren County.

Sphecodina abbottii, May 11, 2007, courtesy of Joe Garris

Xylophanes tersa WO, Tersa Sphinx. This moth is much more common to the south. It is a strong migrant, however. Tony McBride reports them in Warren County, just to the south, where they may exist solely as stray adults.

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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