Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Brandon Capasso, August, 2010
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, August, 2010
Updated as per Butterflies and Moths of North America, formerly USGS, August, 2010

Saratoga County, New York

Sphingidae

Smerinthus jamaicensis male, Greenfield Center, Saratoga County, New York,
August 5, 2010, courtesy of Brandon Capasso.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Brandon Capasso who sent me the image of the Smerinthus jamaicensis moth depicted above. Additional images from Brandon are available via the link below the jamaicensis thumbnail.

Brandon writes, "Attached are some great close up shots of Smerinthus jamaicensis. He was sitting on my screen door for over 24 hours straight! Perhaps he just came out of the pupae? See the profile shot...the antennae are tucked in closely to the body. I was able to identify it thanks to your website, much appreciated."

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 Saratoga County (five as of August 2010, 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 Saratoga County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present.

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 undulosa WO

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 WO, 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.

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.

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 quinquemaculatus WO, 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 sexta WO, 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. generally a more southerly species

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. generally a more southerly species

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

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

Sphinx chersis WO, 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. The upperside of the hindwing is black with blurry pale gray bands.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

Forewings, long and slender, are held close to the body when the moth is at rest.

Sphinx gordius WO, the Apple Sphinx

This species is not reported in Saratoga. Generally it is widely reported in nearby counties, but more to the south.

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

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 Albany County.

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. 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 WO, 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 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 Schenectady 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 Schenectady County.

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

Smerinthus cerisyi USGS, 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.

Smerinthus jamaicensis BC, 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.

Smerinthus jamaicensis male, Greenfield Center, August 5, 2010, courtesy of Brandon Capasso.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris diffinis WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth

Adults mimic bumblebees and are quite variable, both geographically and seasonally. The wings are basically clear, with dark brown to brownish-orange veins, bases and edges.

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 WO, 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 not reported for Saratoga, but it is fairly often reported along the coast from southern New Jersey to central Maine so may be present. Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx.

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 not previously reported.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis USGS, the Nessus Sphinix

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

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.

Darapsa myron WO, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx

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.

Deidamia inscriptum USGS, the Lettered Sphinx

This species has been recorded in southeastern New York, and in western Massachusetts so might 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 WO, 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. generally more southerly

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.

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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