Richmond County, New York

Hemaris thysbe, August 5, 2006, Staten Island, Richmond Co., N. Y., courtesy of Brian Madigan.

I spent my early years in northern New Jersey and now reside in Montague, Prince Edward Island. I still have a frame of Sphingidae specimens from Hunterdon County, New Jersey, done up over forty years ago. It contains Sphinx eremitus, Sphinx gordius, Paonias myops, Smerinthus jamaicensis, Darapsa choerilus, Darapsa myron, Sphecodina abbottii, Hyles lineata and a stray Xylophanes tersa.

I can also remember seeing Manduca sexta, Manduca quinquemacualta, Manduca jasminearum, Ceratomia catalpae, Ceratomia amyntor, Ceratomia undulosa, Paonias excaecata, Amorpha juglandis, Eumorpha pandorus, Hemaris thysbe and Hyles lineata at lights or along the train tracks (Union County, N.J.) at night nectaring at phlox. The Hemaris species could often be encountered around the butterfly bushes or near the honey suckle vines.

Some of these species I now see at lights on P.E.I.; I have reared most of the local ones.

With so many species from Richmond County common to one or the other or both of my homes, the memories are flooding back!

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 Richmond County (only four 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 Richmond County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is 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:

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

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

Ceratomia amyntor USGS, the Elm Sphinx or Four-horned Sphinx

This moth is officially recorded in Richmond.

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

Ceratomia catalpae DSSENA, the Catalpa Sphinx

This is generally a more southerly species, but it has been recorded in Richmond. 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 DSSENA, the Waved Sphinx

This moth is recorded in Richmond. I have seen them as far north as P.E.I. in eastern Canada, and took them in New Jersey.
It is named for the wavy lines on the forewings.

Dolba hyloeus DSSENA, the Pawpaw Sphinx

This moth is recorded in Richmond. It is widely reported in New Jersey and Connecticut.

Lapara bombycoides WO, the Northern Pine Sphinx

Although not officially reported from Richmond, it is reported to the north, west and south. If you have pines, you probably have this species. It flies on P.E.I.

Lapara coniferarum USGS, the Southern Pine Sphinx

this moth is reported from Richmond, and it is widely reported in New Jersey and along the coast in Connecticut and Masachusetts. If you've got pines, this species is likely present.

Manduca jasminearum WO, the Ash Sphinx

This species is not officially recorded in Richmond.

It is reported in New Jersey, southeastern New York and Connecticut. I see no reason for it to be absent from Richmond County.

Manduca quinquemaculata WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

This species is not recorded in Richmond, but has been seen in nearby counties. I suspect if you grow tomatoes, you are likely to encounter it.

Manduca rustica WO, the Rustic Sphinx

This species is not recorded in Richmond, 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.

Manduca sexta DSSENA, the Carolina Sphinx

This species is recorded in Richmond. If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it.

Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.

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

This species is 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 Richmond. We have them on P.E.I., but I do not see them nearly as frequently as I see the other Sphingidae.

Sphinx eremitus WO, the Hermit Sphinx

This species is not reported in Richmond. Generally it is not widely reported, but still is a possibility.

Sphinx gordius DSSENA, the Apple Sphinx

This species is reported in Richmond. Generally it is widely reported in neighbouring counties.

Note the pm line, absent in Sphinx poecila which flies more to the north.

Sphinx kalmiae DSSENA, the Laurel Sphinx

This species is reported in Richmond. I have taken them on P.E.I., Canada, and reared them on lilac.

At rest the hindwings are usually completely covered.

Sphinx luscitiosa DSSENA, the Canadian Sphinx or Clemen's Sphinx

This one is reported from Richmond and from northeastern New Jersey.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis DSSENA, the Walnut Sphinx

This moth is fairly widely reported to the north, west and south of as well as in Richmond.

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 DSSENA, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx
This moth is recorded in Richmond County. It is fond of poplars and willows.

They are common on Prince Edward Island.

Paonias astylus WO, the Huckleberry Sphinx

This appears to be an uncommon species. Although not officially recorded for Richmond, they are reported for northeastern New Jersey and Connecticut.
Only rarely are they seen in Maine. I never saw one in New Jersey. QUESTIONABLE

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 Richmond 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 Richmond County.

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

Smerinthus jamaicensis USGS, 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:

Erinnyis ello WO, the Ello Sphinx

This species is not reported in Richmond, but is reported to the east and west. It might make an appearance as a rare stray.
Males and females differ.

Hemaris thysbe DSSENA, the Hummingbird Clearwing

This interesting day flier is reported in Richmond, 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 DSSENA, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth

This moth is widespread and has been recorded in Richmond and in northwestern N.J. and southeastern N.Y. and Connecticut.

Hemaris gracilis WO, the Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing

This day-flying moth is less common and has not been recorded in Richmond, but has been seen in northeastern N.J. and southeastern N.Y.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon DSSENA, the Achemon Sphinx

This moth is reported for Richmond, 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 fasciata WO, the Banded Sphinx

This moth is not officially reported for Richmond, however, the moth is a strong flier and occasionally moths and larvae turn up as very rare strays in northern communities.

Eumorpha pandorus DSSENA, 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.

Eumorpha vitis USGS, the Vine Sphinx

This report would be for a very rare stray.

It would be unusual to encounter this species anywhere in New York.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis DSSENA, the Nessus Sphinix

This day flier is widely distributed. If you have Virginia Creeper, you probably have the Nessus Sphinx. It is reported from Richmond.
Two bright, distinct, narrow yellow bands are often visible on the abdomen.

Cautethia grotei WO, the Grote's Sphinx

This species is rarely recorded in the U.S., but there are sightings in the east from Florida, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
There are no reports from Richmond.

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 unconfirmed for Richmond, but I suspect it is present.

Darapsa myron WO, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx
This moth is not recorded on the U.S.G.S. site for Richmond 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 Richmond, but, it has been reported in southeastern New York and northeastern New Jersey. Questionable!

Deidamia inscriptum DSSENA, the Lettered Sphinx

This species has been recorded in Richmond and surrounding areas.

Hyles gallii DSSENA, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is reported in Richmond, but no further south in the east. I suspect it would be rare.
Some years I see them on P.E.I., some years, I do not.

Hyles lineata DSSENA, the White-lined Sphinx

This species is reported from Richond County. It flies across southern New York and has strong migrating tendancies. There are records from New Hampshire and Maine.

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. It is likely in Richmond.

Hemaris thysbe, August 5, 2006, Staten Island, Richmond Co., N. Y., courtesy of Brian Madigan.

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