Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, April 2009
Updated as per personal communication with Randy Lyttle, (Deidamia inscriptum, Clay, April 16-17, 2009), April 2009

Onondaga County, New York

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 Onondaga County (none are reported on U.S.G.S. as of April 17, 2009). 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 Onondaga County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present.

Randy Lyttle of Hannibal, New York, (RL) has recently (April 17, 2009) sent me a sighting of Deidamia inscriptum in Clay.

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.

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 unlikely stray

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

Ceratomia amyntor WO, the Elm Sphinx or Four-horned SphinxThe 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. It is named for the wavy lines on the forewings.

Dolba hyloeus WO, the Pawpaw Sphinx

This moth is not recorded in Onondaga, but has been taken in more northerly locations in Michigan, New Hampshire and Vermont, so it should be present.

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

Lintneria 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. The upperside of the hindwing is black with two white bands and a triangular black patch at the base. Note the golden hair on the thorax.

Manduca quinquemaculata WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

This large bodied moth flies in tobacco fields and vegetable gardens (potatoes, tomatoes) and wherever host plants are found.

Sphinx chersis USGS, 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.

Sphinx drupiferarum USGS RL, the 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. They are pretty common here on Prince Edward Island, and I suspect would be present around blueberry fields in Onondaga.

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 WO, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx,

Hindwings aremostly deep maroon with some dark blue-black scaling. They are a heavy bodied species.

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.

Paonias myops WO, 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, 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.

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, the 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:

Hemaris thysbe WO, the Hummingbird Clearwing

This interesting day flier is now reported in Oswego, and is widely reported to the north, east and south.
They are widely distributed in the east from P.E.I. to Florida.

Hemaris diffinis WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth

This moth is widely distributed and has been reported in Oneida and in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Hemaris gracilis WO, The Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing

This day flier is not commonly reported, but it might be present in Onondaga County.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx

Adults nectar from flowers of Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), petunia (Petunia hybrida), mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius), and phlox (Phlox). Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx. questionable, northern range limit

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 where they have not previously been 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 WO, 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, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx
The forewing upperside is dark brown to pale yellowish gray, with an olive green 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 WO, the Hydrangea Sphinx

If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the Hydrangea Sphinx.
It has not been widely reported north of Oswego, however, and probably is uncommon.

Deidamia inscriptum RL, 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.

Deidamia inscriptum, Clay, April 16-17, courtesy of Randy Lyttle.

Hyles gallii WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or 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, the White-lined Sphinx

Adults usually fly at dusk, during the night, and at dawn, but they also fly during the day over a wide variety of open habitats including deserts, suburbs, and gardens.

Proserpinus flavofasciata WO, the 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. Questionable, generally more northerly.

Sphecodina abbottii WO, 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.




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