Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, June, 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Jim Carney, June 2010

Orange County

Sphingidae

Paonias myops, Slate Hill, Orange County, New York,
August 2009, photo by Sheri Griffie, submitted by Jim Carney.

This page is dedicated to and inspired by Sheri Griffie (photographer) and Jim Carney (submitter). Jim sent me the image at top of page and writes, "I looked in my National Audubon Insects & Spiders Field Guide but can't find a match for this moth, any idea what it is?"

I wrote back with the identification and asked permission to post image. Jim contacted photographer Sheri Griffie to obtain permission to post, and Sheri grants her permission.

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 Orange County (twenty-three 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 Orange County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present. 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:

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 catalpae WO, the Catalpa Sphinx

This is generally a more southerly species, but it has been recorded in Boxford, June 27, 1998. I saw them in great numbers in New Jersey.

The larvae feed in large groups and are much more spectacular than the moths.
Catalpa is the larval host.

Ceratomia undulosa USGS, 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 USGS, 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. Larve are not limited to pawpaw.

Lapara bombycoides USGS, 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.

Lapara coniferarum USGS, the Southern Pine Sphinx

The upperside is of the forewing is gray with two (sometimes one or three) black dashes near the wing center; other markings are usually diffuse. The upperside of the hindwing is a uniform brown-gray. If you've got pines, this species is likely present.

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 jasminearum WO, the Ash Sphinx

The upperside of forewing is gray to grayish brown with a black line running from the middle of the costa to the middle of the outer margin; the line may be broken near the margin. There is a splash of brown around the cell spot. possibility

Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS, 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. The upperside of the hindwing is banded with brown and white and has two well-separated median zigzag bands.

Manduca rustica WO, the Rustic Sphinx

This species is not recorded in Orange, but it has been taken in several counties in northeastern New Jersey. I would not be surprised to get a report. Look for three large yellow spots on each side of the abdomen. Questionable.

Manduca sexta USGS, the Carolina Sphinx

If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered Manduca sexta in the larval stage.

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.

Sphinx canadensis WO, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere, but it might possibly be present in Orange County.

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

Sphinx chersis USGS, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx Forewing upperside is soft dark gray to blue-gray with a series of black dashes, one of which reaches the wing tip. Hindwing upperside is black with blurry pale gray bands. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, 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 gordius WO, 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. Dashes, submarginal line, and cell spot are usually weak.

Sphinx kalmiae USGS, 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, WO

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 might be present around blueberry fields in Orange County. doubtful, generally more northerly

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis USGS, 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. This is the first Sphinx species I reared as a boy in New Jersey. See the file for the female; she is different.

Pachysphinx modesta USGS, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

This moth has a large, heavy body, and females can be remarkably plump. They are common on Prince Edward Island. I rear some almost every year.

Paonias astylus WO, the Huckleberry Sphinx

Paonias astylus flies from March-September in Florida and from April-September in Louisiana. There is one brood northward from June-August. This appears to be an uncommon species. unlikely possibility

Paonias excaecata USGS, the Blinded Sphinx

Named for the dull grey-blue spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is probably common in Orange County.

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

Paonias myops SG/JC/ USGS, the Small-eyed Sphinx

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

Smerinthus cerisyi, the one-eyed sphinx or Cerisyi's sphinx, (wingspan approximately 95mm) closely resembles Smerinthus jamaicensis, and in northern regions the two species overlap. This is a very easy Sphinx to rear. possibility, generally more northerly

Smerinthus jamaicensis USGS, 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. There are also distinct differences near the forewing apex. Note complete light arc on jamaicensis.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris diffinis WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth

This moth is widely distributed and has been reported to the north, east, south and west.

Hemaris gracilis WO, 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. They have a red abdomen.

Hemaris thysbe USGS, 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.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx

This moth is reported for Essex (Boxford, June 18, 1997), 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 USGS, 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 USGS, the Nessus Sphinix

This day flier is widely distributed in New York. The adult Nessus sphinx, which flies during the day and at dusk, has two bright yellow bands on the tufted abdomen.

Darapsa choerilus USGS, 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.

Darapsa myron USGS, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx
It is widely reported from Florida as far north as southern Maine. If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this species nearby.

Darapsa versicolor USGS, the Hydrangea Sphinx

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

Deidamia inscriptum WO, the Lettered Sphinx

This species has been recorded in eastern and western New York, and has been reported to the south so should be present. It is generally absent to the north so would be uncommon, although I have reports from Ontario, Canada.

Hyles gallii USGS, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

Hyles gallii ranges coast to coast in Canada (into the Yukon) and southward along the Rocky Mountains into Mexico. It is also widely distributed throughout Europe and Asia.

Hyles lineata USGS, the White-lined Sphinx

The forewing upperside is dark olive brown with paler brown along the costa and outer margin, a narrow tan band running from the wing tip to the base, and white streaks along the veins.

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.

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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