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

Santa Fe County, New Mexico
Sphingidae

Pachysphinx occidentalis pair, near Edgewood (Santa Fe County), New Mexico,
July 18, 2008, courtesy of Suzi Druley.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Suzi Druley who captured the image of the Pachysphinx occidentalis pairing, top of the page.

Thirty-four Sphingidae species are listed for New Mexico on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Santa Fe County (four species reported as of July 2008) . Many species have limited ranges in the southern or eastern or western parts of the state and would not be expected in Santa Fe County.

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

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.

I, William Oehlke (WO), have added a number of species whose presence I expect in Santa Fe County.

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.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata WO possible stray

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).

Manduca quinquemaculata WO, the 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. Larvae feed on tomatoes and go by the common name of "Tomato Hornworms".

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. possible stray

Sagenosoma elsa WO, the Elsa sphinx

The upperside of the forewing has a wide white band along the costa from base to apex. The remainder of the wing has black and white bands. eastern limit, maybe

Sphinx asellus WO, the Asella sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale silver-gray with a series of black dashes, a white patch at the tip, and a white stripe along the outer margin. The upperside of the hindwing is black with blurry white bands.

Sphinx chersis WO, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx
The upperside of the forewing is 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 dollii WO, the Doll's sphinx

Sphinx dollii (Wing span: 1 3/4 - 2 1/2 inches (4.5 - 6.3 cm)), flies in arid brushlands and desert foothills from Nevada and southern California east through Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico to Oklahoma and Texas.

Sphinx libocedrus WO, the Incense Cedar Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale blue-gray to dark gray with a black dash reaching the wing tip and a white stripe along the lower outer margin.
The upperside of the hindwing is black with two diffuse white bands, the upper one being practically non-existent.

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. southern limit, maybe

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx modesta USGS, 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 occidentalis USGS/SD, the Big Poplar Sphinx

This one is quite similar to Pachysphinx modesta, with modesta being smaller and darker. The am and pm lines are distinct in occidentalis, diffuse in modesta.

Moths should be on the wing from June-August.

Pachysphinx occidentalis, near Edgewood, July 18, 2008, Suzi Druley

Paonias excaecata WO, the Blinded Sphinx,

The outer margin of the forewing is quite wavy. There is a dark cell spot and a dark oblique line mid wing from the costa almost to the inner margin. Basic ground colour is pinkish brown.

Flight would be June-July. unlikely

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 or One-eyed Sphinx,

Larvae feed on poplars and willows.

Flight would be from late May-July as a single brood. maybe, eastern limit

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Hemaris diffinis WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or 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.

Hemaris senta WO, the Rocky Mountain Clearwing,

There is probably a single brood of this montane species from May-August.

The moth is seen along streamsides and in meadows in mountainous areas.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon USGS, the Achemon Sphinx Adults nectar from flowers of Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), petunia (Petunia hybrida), mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius), and phlox (Phlox). Larvae feed upon Grape (Vitis), Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and other vines and ivies (Ampelopsis).

Macroglossini tribe:

Darapsa myron WO, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the 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.

Euproserpinus wiesti WO, Wiest's Primrose Sphinx

Euproserpinus wiesti adults fly, during the day, over sand washes and prairie blow-outs as a single brood from May-June.

Hyles lineata USGS, 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.

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. The underside of the forewing is pale orange at the base.

Proserpinus vega WO, the Vega sphinx

Jim Tuttle writes, "P. vega has a very large and dark basal patch as the FW meets the thorax that is lacking in terlooii. There are also three prominent longitudinal stripes on the thorax of vega that are lacking in terlooii."

Xylophanes tersa possible stray 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. The upperside of the hindwing is dark brown with a band of whitish, wedge-shaped marks.

Many of the Sphingidae larvae are highly variable within the species. Most darken considerably just before pupation, especially before the onset of cooler weather.

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This page is brought to you by Bill Oehlke and the WLSS. Pages are on space rented from Bizland. If you would like to become a "Patron of the Sphingidae Site", contact Bill.

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

Enjoy one of nature's wonderments: Live Saturniidae (Giant Silkmoth) cocoons.