Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Adirondack Bob (Pachysphinx modesta, July 6, 2014); July 9, 2014
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 9, 2014
Updated as per Butterflies and Moths of North America website, formerly USGS, July 9, 2014

Franklin County, northern New York

Sphingidae

Pachysphinx modesta, Saranac Lake, Franklin County, New York,
July 6, 2014, courtesy of Adirondack Bob.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Adirondack Bob who has sent me the images of Pachysphinx modesta at the top of the page, and immediately below.

Pachysphinx modesta, Saranac Lake, Franklin County, New York,
July 6, 2014, courtesy of Adirondack Bob.

Forty-six Sphingidae species are listed for New York on the BAMONA website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Franklin County (only six are reported on BAMONA as of July 8, 2014). 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 Franklin County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present.

A "BAMONA" indicates the moth is reported on the BAMONA 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.

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 New York Catocala: Underwing Moths.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Ceratomia amyntor WO, Elm Sphinx; Four-horned Sphinx: Forewing 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 BAMONA, Waved Sphinx: Forewing pale brownish gray (sometimes dark) with wavy black and white lines and a black-outlined white cell spot. Hindwing gray with diffuse darker bands.

Dolba hyloeus WO, 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, 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 also flies on P.E.I.

Lintneria eremitus WO, Hermit Sphinx: Forewing gray-brown with wavy lines, black dashes, one or two small white spots near center of costa. Hindwing is black with two white bands and triangular black patch at the base. Note the golden hair on the thorax.

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO Five-spotted Hawkmoth: Abdomen usually has five but sometimes six pairs of yellow bands. Forewing blurry brown and gray. Hindwing banded with brown and white, has two well-separated median zigzag bands.

Sphinx canadensis WO, Canadian Sphinx, not common, not often reported anywhere, but it might possibly be present in your county.

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

Sphinx chersis WO, Northern Ash Sphinx; Great Ash Sphinx: Forewing is soft dark gray to blue-gray with a series of black dashes, one of which reaches the wing tip.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, Wild Cherry Sphinx. Forewings, long and slender, are held close to the body when the moth is at rest. The top third of the forewing in the basal and median areas is grey while most of the rest of the forewing is dark brown.

Sphinx gordius WO, the Apple Sphinx

Colouration and markings are highly variable from one specimen to another. The fringes on forewing are mostly black with some white; those on the hindwing are mostly white with a few black patches.

Sphinx kalmiae WO, 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 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 probably have the Poecila Sphinx.

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 AB/BAMONA, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx: Hindwings aremostly deep maroon with some dark blue-black scaling. They are a heavy bodied species.

Pachysphinx modesta, Saranac Lake, July 6, 2014, Adirondack Bob

Paonias excaecata WO, 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.

Paonias myops BAMONA, the Small-eyed Sphinx

This species ranges across North America.

The hindwings have a small blue eyespot ringed with black on a yellow background.

Smerinthus cerisyi WO, 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 BAMONA, Twin-spotted Sphinx: Smerinthus jamaicensis closely resembles Smerinthus cerisyi, but jamaicensis is much smaller with larger blue patches on more vibrant and deeper purple in the lower wings.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Visit Hemaris comparison to distinguish the following three species.

Hemaris diffinis WO, Snowberry Clearwing; Bumblebee Moth: Flies along forest edges, in meadows, gardens, brushy fields. Day-flying adults nectar at lantana, dwarf bush honeysuckle, snowberry, orange hawkweed, thistles, lilac, Canada violet, etc.

Hemaris gracilis WO, Slender Clearwing; Graceful Clearwing: This day flier is not commonly reported, but it might be present in Coos County. unlikely

Hemaris thysbe BAMONA, 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.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha pandorus WO, 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, and it is now reported from Oswego.
Two bright, distinct, narrow yellow bands are often visible on the abdomen.

Darapsa choerilus BAMONA, the Azalea Sphinx: The lower wings of this hawkmoth are a solid brownish-orange, matching the body colour.

You will often see this species listed as Darapsa pholus, especially in older literature.

Darapsa myron WO, Virginia Creeper Sphinx; Grapevine Sphinx: Forewing dark brown to pale yellowish gray, with olive green tint. On costal margin is dark rectangular patch, although this may be reduced or absent. Hindwing pale orange. unlikely.

Darapsa versicolor WO, the Hydrangea Sphinx

If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the Hydrangea Sphinx.

Deidamia inscriptum WO, the Lettered Sphinx: This species has not been recorded in Coos.

It is seen in southern Ontario, however, and in central and southern Wisconsin and might be present.

Hyles gallii WO, Bedstraw Hawk Moth; Gallium Sphinx: The thick, cream-coloured, slightly irregular, diagonal line on the forewing as well as the absence of much thinner "white lines/streaks" distinguish this species from Hyles lineata.

Hyles lineata WO, White-lined Sphinx: Adults usually fly at dusk, during the night, and at dawn, but they also fly during the day over wide variety of open habitats including deserts, suburbs, gardens.

Proserpinus flavofasciata WO, Yellow-banded Day Sphinx: Fw upperside is medium to dark brown with a faint to distinct white median band. Hw upperside is dark brown with a wide orange median band which may not reach the inner margin. The moth mimics a bumblebee.

Sphecodina abbottii WO, the Abbott's Sphinx: This moth is very much under reported on USGS. It is a rapid day flier so is probably not in too many collections.

Grape is a popular larval host.




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