Cayuga County

Sphingidae

Forty-six Sphingidae species are listed for New York on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Cayuga County (none 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 no confirmed reports of this species in Cayuga County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Randy Lyttle who has begun (May 2006) to send me sighting data for Sphingidae in Cayuga 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:

Pink-spotted hawkmoth -- (Agrius cingulata) WO stray

This moth is a very strong flier, but would only make its way to Cayuga as a rare stray. There are not too many records from New York state, but records exist for NJ and CT.

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

Ceratomia undulosa WO, 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.

Dolba hyloeus WO, 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.

Lapara bombycoides WO, the 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.

Manduca quinquemaculata WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

This species is not recorded in Cayuga, and it has been seen just to the south in nearby counties. I suspect if you grow tomatoes, you are likely to encounter it.

Manduca sexta WO, the Carolina Sphinx

This species is not recorded in Cayuga. If you grow tomatoes, however, you may have encountered it.

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. Might be present!

Sphinx chersis WO, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx

This species is probably present but may not be common. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

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

Sphinx eremitus WO, the 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.

Sphinx kalmiae WO, the Laurel Sphinx

This species is reported just to the south in Tompkins and to the northeast. I have taken them on P.E.I., Canada, and reared them on lilac.
At rest the hindwings are usually completely covered.

Sphinx luscitiosa WO, 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 WO, 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, but don't fly too far south of Massachusetts, being replaced by Sphinx gordius in Connecticut. Probable.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO, 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 RL, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx
This moth is recorded in Cayuga County by Randy Lyttle. It is fond of poplars and willows.

They are common on Prince Edward Island.

Pachysphinx modesta female, May 28, 2006, Randy Lyttle

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 probably common in Cayuga 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 probably common in Cayuga County.

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

Smerinthus cerisyi WO, the Cerisyi's Sphinx

At my home in Montague, P.E.I., Canada, they are quite common. I expect they are also present in Cayuga County.

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:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris thysbe RL, the Hummingbird Clearwing

This interesting day flier is reported in Cayuga by Randy Lytle, and is widely reported to the north, east, south and west.
They are widely distributed in the east from P.E.I. to Florida.

Hemaris thysbe, May, 2006, Randy Lyttle

Hemaris diffinis WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth

Adults mimic bumblebees and are quite variable, both geographically and seasonally. The wings are basically clear, with dark brown to brownish-orange veins, bases and edges.

Hemaris gracilis WO, the Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing

The wings are transparent with reddish brown borders. The outer edge of the forewing transparent area is even and the forewing cell has a median row of scales. Questionable.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx

This moth is reported for Tompkins justto the south, 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 WO, 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.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, the 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.

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.
It is not confirmed, however, for Cayuga.

Darapsa myron WO, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx
This moth is not recorded on the U.S.G.S. site for Cayuga County
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, the Hydrangea Sphinx

If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the Hydrangea Sphinx.
It has not been reported in Cayuga, but likely is presnt but uncommon.

Deidamia inscriptum WO, the Lettered Sphinx

The moth's outer margin of the forewing is deeply scalloped. The upperside is light brown with dark brown markings. There is a small black and white spot near the tip. Small, early spring flier.

Hyles gallii WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is reported in Tompkins just to the south. I suspect it would be rare.
Some years I see them on P.E.I., some years, I do not.

Hyles lineata WO, the White-lined Sphinx

This species is not reported from Cayuga County. It flies across southern New York and has strong migrating tendancies. There are records from New Hampshire and Maine.

Sphecodina abbottii RL, 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. It is confirmed for Cayuga by Randy Lyttle.

Sphecodina abbottii, late May, 2006, Randy Lyttle




Cayuga County Recording Sheets:
Days 1-16 page 1 A. cingulata to S. cerisyi
Days 17-31 page 1 A. cingulata to S. cerisyi
Days 1-16 page 2 H. diffinis to S. abbottii C. grotei very unlikely
Days 17-31 page 2 H. diffinis to S. abbottii C. grotei very unlikely
Days 1-16 blank
Days 17-31 blank

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