Nova Scotia, Canada
Sphingidae

Amphion floridensis, Round Hill, N.S., June 2, 2010, courtesy of Bev Wigney.

This thumbnail checklist is inspired by Bev Wigney who recently (June 5, 2010) sent me beautiful images of Amphion floridensis and Paonias myops from Round Hill, near Annaplolis Royal, Nova Scotia.

Thirty-two Sphingidae species are listed for Nova Scotia, based on information sent to me by Derek Bridgehouse and several Nova Scotia residents and or visitors (including myself). One of the thirty-two listed is very questionable Aellopos tantalus. Two of the thirty-two species (Dolba hyloeus and Paratrea plebeja) are included by myself as unlikely possibilities. Several species are included that probably do not overwinter in Nova Scotia, but make rare to occasional visits as wind assisted strays or migrants.

Derek and I have also been making an annual collecting trip to Malay Falls in late June, and I have personally seen many of these species at our light set ups.

This page is dedicated to Derek Bridgehouse and the many other residents and visitors to Nova Scotia who have sent me images and or data.

In June 2010 Chris Majka sends the following email:

"I don't know if you are aware, however, in Ferguson (1955) four additional species of Sphingidae are reported from Nova Scotia including:

Aellopos tantalus (Linnaeus) – [Sydney from the 1890's; there is some question about this specimen]
Eumorpha fasciatus (Sulzer) – [Musquodoboit, McNab's Island, Granville Ferry]
Eumorpha pandorus (Hübner) – [Armdale]
Hyles lineata (Fabricius) – [McNab's Island, Digby]

"The first two would appear to be non-resident migrants, but Hyles lineata (Fabricius) is a resident species and the Eumorpha pandorus was found associated with Ampelopsis in NS, so at least that individual seems to have bred here.

"Also Wright (1989) recorded Xylophanes tersa (Linnaeus) on Sable Island; another, a vagrant sub-tropical migrant."

In response to some of my comments, Chris sends additional thoughts.

Chris adds, "I'm sure Aellopos tantalus (Linnaeus), Eumorpha fasciatus (Sulzer), and Eumorpha pandorus (Hübner) are all irregular vagrants. I don't know if Hyles lineata (Fabricius) can/does overwinter. Ferguson noted that he examined a number of specimens collected in Digby by John Russell (his collection is now at the CNC) so there's some indication that it appeared there on a regular basis. I'm not sure when Russell collected (1930's?) and I'm not aware of recent records in NS, but on the other hand, I don't know that anyone has looked at sphinx moths in the Digby area for decades."

Smerinthus cerisyi male, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia,
late May, 2010, courtesy of Angelika Waldow.

Agrius cingulata, Sydney, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia,
September 30, 2012, courtesy of Lorna MacLean.

Lorna MacLean writes, "I am sending this photo of Agrius cingulata I took in my backyard today Sep 30, 2012. It was sitting on my woodpile."

Many thanks to Helen Tyson who provides the following image.

Hemaris thysbe, Parrsboro, Nova Scotia,
August 1, 2014, courtesy of Helem Tyson.

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 cingulatastray, Pink-spotted Hawkmoth stray

This moth is a very strong flier, but would only make its way to Nova Scotia as a rare stray, usually in fall, assisted by strong southerly winds.

Agrius cingulata, October 3, 2007, Lunenburg County, N.S., courtesy of Steve Hatt.
Agrius cingulata, September 5, 2010 (right after Hurricane Earl), feeding on petunias in River John, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Sylvia Langille via Patricia Cormier.
Agrius cingulata, Sydney, Cape Breton Island, September 30, 2012, Lorna MacLean.

Ceratomia amyntor, 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.

Ceratomia amyntor, Lunenburg County, Steve Hatt.

Ceratomia undulosa, 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.

Ceratomia undulosa, July 10 - August 5, 2005, Cape Breton Island (The Points West Bay), Robert Jindra
Ceratomia undulosa, June 26-27, Malay Falls, Derek Bridgehouse, Bill Oehlke
Ceratomia undulosa, June 12, 2010, Mt Uniacke, East Hants County, Derek Bridgehouse

Dolba hyloeus, 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. unlikely possibility

Lapara bombycoides, the Northern Pine Sphinx

If you have pines, you probably have this species. It flies on P.E.I.

Lapara bombycoides, June 26-27, Malay Falls, Derek Bridgehouse, Bill Oehlke
Lapara bombycoides, Lunenburg County, Steve Hatt.
Lapara bombycoides, June 12, 2010, Mt Uniacke, East Hants County, Derek Bridgehouse

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

Paratrea plebeja, 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. unlikely possibility

Sphinx canadensis probably present, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere, but it might be present.

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

Sphinx chersis, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx. This species is present and is probably common. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx chersis, July 22, 2005, Cape Breton Island (The Points West Bay), Robert Jindra

Sphinx drupiferarum abundant, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

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

Sphinx drupiferarum, June 26-27, Malay Falls, Derek Bridgehouse, Bill Oehlke
Sphinx drupiferarum, Lunenburg County, Steve Hatt.

Sphinx gordius probably poecila, the 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. probably poecila in Nova Scotia

Sphinx kalmiae present, 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 15- August 9, 2005, very common, Cape Breton Island (The Points West Bay), Robert Jindra
Sphinx kalmiae, June 26-27, Malay Falls, Derek Bridgehouse, Bill Oehlke
Sphinx kalmiae, Lunenburg County, Steve Hatt.
Sphinx kalmiae, June 12, 2010, Mt Uniacke, East Hants County, Derek Bridgehouse.
Sphinx kalmiae, August 26, 2017, Liscombe Lodge, Guysborough County, Derek Bridgehouse.

Sphinx luscitiosa present, the Canadian Sphinx or Clemen's Sphinx

This one is reported from Ontario, but it is generally not common.

Sphinx poecila abundant, 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.

Sphinx poecila, July 15 - August 5, 2005, Cape Breton Island (The Points West Bay), Robert Jindra
Sphinx poecila, June 26-27, Malay Falls, Derek Bridgehouse, Bill Oehlke
Sphinx poecila, Lunenburg County, Steve Hatt.
Sphinx poecila, June 12, 2010, Mt Uniacke, East Hants County, Derek Bridgehouse
Sphinx poecila, Port Joli, Queens County, Andy Dean

Smerinthini Tribe:

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

Pachysphinx modesta common, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx
This moth is recorded regularly in Ontario. Its larvae are fond of poplars and willows.

They are common on Prince Edward Island.

Pachysphinx modesta, July 25-28, 2005, Cape Breton Island (The Points West Bay), Robert Jindra
Pachysphinx modesta, July 28, 2007, Windsor, Nova Scotia, Joanne and Corrine Martell.
Pachysphinx modesta, June 26-27, Malay Falls, Derek Bridgehouse, Bill Oehlke
Pachysphinx modesta, Lunenburg County, Steve Hatt.
Pachysphinx modesta, June 15, 2010, Pictou County, close to the Northumberland Strait, Korie Marshall
Pachysphinx modesta, June 12, 2010, Mt Uniacke, East Hants County, Derek Bridgehouse

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

Paonias excaecata, June 26-27, Malay Falls, Derek Bridgehouse, Bill Oehlke
Paonias excaecata, Lunenburg County, Steve Hatt.

Paonias myops, the Small-eyed Sphinx

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

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

Paonias myops, July 24, 2005, Cape Breton Island (The Points West Bay), Robert Jindra
Paonias myops, Round Hill, near Annaplolis Royal, May 23-June 2, 2010, Bev Wigney.

Smerinthus cerisyi common, the Cerisyi's Sphinx
Smerinthus cerisyi is found in the southern regions of all Canadian provinces and in northern border states. The one-eyed sphinx is also found along the U.S. west coast, eastward to the Rockies. At my home in Montague, P.E.I., Canada, they are quite common.

Smerinthus cerisyi, July 15-29, 2005, Cape Breton Island (The Points West Bay), Robert Jindra
Smerinthus cerisyi, Lunenburg County, Steve Hatt.
Smerinthus cerisyi, June 26-27, Malay Falls, Derek Bridgehouse, Bill Oehlke
Smerinthus cerisyi, late May , 2010, Annapolis Royal, Angelike Waldow

Smerinthus jamaicensis common, the Twin-spotted Sphinx. This moth is widely distributed and fairly common. Along the East Coast, it flies from P.E.I. to Florida. I suspect it is present.

Smerinthus jamaicensis, June 26-27, Malay Falls, Derek Bridgehouse, Bill Oehlke
Smerinthus jamaicensis, Lunenburg County, Steve Hatt.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos tantalus CM/questionable, Tantalus Sphinx. The body is reddish brown with a wide white band across the abdomen. The forewing upperside is reddish brown with a black cell spot and 3 white spots near the gray marginal area. A pale streak runs from the cell spot to the inner margin of the wing.

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris thysbe common, 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, June 26-27, Malay Falls, Derek Bridgehouse, Bill Oehlke
Hemaris thysbe, Port Joli, Queens, June 18, July 11, Andy Dean.
Hemaris thysbe, May 14, 2012, Halifax County, Derek Bridgehouse, warm spring, early season sighting and capture
Hemaris thysbe, August 1, 2014, Parrsboro, Helen Tyson.

Hemaris diffinis common, 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 with 1-2 yellow segments on the abdomen.

Hemaris diffinis, May 14, 2012, Halifax County, Derek Bridgehouse, warm spring, early season sighting and capture

Hemaris gracilis present, the Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing

This day-flying moth is less common.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha fasciatus CM, 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. probably does not overwinter

Eumorpha pandorus CM, 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. Armdale, Nova Scotia. probably does not overwinter

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis common, the Nessus Sphinix

This day flier is widely distributed. If you have Virginia Creeper, you probably have the Nessus Sphinx. It is officially reported from Ontario.
Two bright, distinct, narrow yellow bands are often visible on the abdomen.

Amphion floridensis, Round Hill, near Annaplolis Royal, June 2, 2010, Bev Wigney.

Darapsa choerilus common, 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.
It is confirmed for New Brunswick.

Darapsa choerilus, July 25-August 1, 2005, Cape Breton Island (The Points West Bay), Robert Jindra
Darapsa choerilus, June 14, 2008, Gold River, Lunenburg County, Steve Hatt.
Darapsa choerilus, June 26-27, Malay Falls, Derek Bridgehouse, Bill Oehlke
Darapsa choerilus, June 12, 2010, Mt Uniacke, East Hants County, Derek Bridgehouse

Hyles gallii present, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is reported in Ontario.

Some years I see them on P.E.I., some years, I do not.

Hyles gallii, June 26-27, Malay Falls, Derek Bridgehouse, Bill Oehlke

Hyles lineata CM, the White-lined Sphinx. This species is officially reported from Digby by John Russell. It is a strong migrator from the south. McNab's Island, Digby. probably does not overwinter

Proserpinus flavofasciata present, the Yellow-banded Day Sphinx

This day flier is officially reported from Ontario, but it maynot be common. Look for them in meadows near coniferous forests.

Xylophanes tersa CM, the Tersa Sphinx

This moth is much more common to the south. It is a strong migrant, however, and is probably only present as a rare stray.

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.

Eggs of many North American species are offered during the spring and summer. Occasionally summer Actias luna and summer Antheraea polyphemus cocoons are available. Shipping to US destinations is done from with in the US.

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