Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 16, 2011

Chemung County, New York
Sphingidae

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

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, Pink-spotted Hawkmoth 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).

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 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.

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. doubtful

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

Lintneria eremitus, 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.

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.

Manduca sexta, the 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. If you grow tomatoes, however, you may have encountered it as it has been found in western N.Y.

Sphinx canadensis, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere.

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

Sphinx chersis, 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 drupiferarum, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

Forewings, long and slender, are held close to the body when the moth is at rest. We have them on P.E.I., but I do not see them nearly as frequently as I see the other Sphingidae.

Sphinx kalmiae , 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 luscitiosa , 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. It seems to be an uncommon species. possibility

Sphinx poecila, the Poecila Sphinx

If you have blueberries in the woods, then you probably 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.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis, 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, 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.

They are common on Prince Edward Island.

Paonias excaecata, the Blinded Sphinx: The forewing outer margin 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. The moth gets its name from the blue-gray pupil surrounded by black, with hot pink wing scales in the basal area of the hindwing

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 your area.

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

Smerinthus cerisyi, the Cerisyi's Sphinx:
Cerisyi is similar to jamaicensis, but jamaicensis is smaller with larger blue patches on more vibrant, deeper purple in lower wings. Also note complete (i.e. outer margin to outer margin) off-white arc just below fw apex. In cerisyi, lower portion of arc does not return to outer margin.

Smerinthus jamaicensis, the Twin-spotted Sphinx: S. jamaicensis closely resembles S. cerisyi, but jamaicensis is much smaller with larger blue patches on more vibrant, deeper purple in lower wings. Also note complete (i.e. outer margin to outer margin) off-white arc just below fw apex. In cerisyi, lower portion of arc does not return to outer margin.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris thysbe, the 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 diffinis, the 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 gracilis, 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.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon, the Achemon Sphinx: The forewing is light grey and brown with many lines, and there are dark patches near the middle of the inner margin, near the apex and near the anal angle. The entire basal area of the hindwing is pink. Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx.

Eumorpha pandorus, the Pandorus Sphinx: Upperside: light brown with shades of olive green to green. Fw has pink streaks along vein ends and near inner margin, and a dark squarish mark at middle of inner margin. Area from base to squarish mark is dark green. Underside usually is yellow-green, but sometimes is pale brown.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis, 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, 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.
The lower wings of this hawkmoth are a solid brownish-orange, matching the body colour.

Darapsa myron, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx: The forewing upperside is dark brown to pale yellowish gray, often with strong greenish 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 versicolor, the Hydrangea Sphinx: If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the Hydrangea Sphinx. Fw upperside is often greenish brown with curved dark lines and pinkish-white patches. Hw upperside is pale yellow to reddish brown with white along costal margin, greenish brown along outer margin, and white shaded with greenish brown on inner margin.

Deidamia inscriptum, 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. The upperside of the hindwing is orange-brown with a dark brown outer margin and median line.

Hyles gallii, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

The forewing is dark brown with a slightly irregular cream-coloured transverse line. The outer margin is grey. There is a bright pink band on the hindwing.

Hyles lineata, the White-lined Sphinx: Fw is dark olive brown with paler brown along costa and outer margin, a narrow tan band running from wing tip to base, and white streaks along veins. Hw upperside is black with a reddish pink median band.

Sphecodina abbottii, 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.




Niagara 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
Days 17-31 page 2 H. diffinis to S. abbottii
Days 1-16 blank
Days 17-31 blank

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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