Updated as per personal communication with Bill Evans, 2006; May 26, 2010; June 4, 2013
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, May 26, 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Meena Haribal, May 26, 2010; July 8, 2012

Tompkins County


Darapsa myron, Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York,
August, 9 2010, courtesy of Meena Haribal.

Forty-six Sphingidae species are listed for New York on the U.S.G.S. website (now BAMONA). Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Tompkins County (twenty-eight 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 special thanks goes to Bill Evans of Danby who has begun to send me sightings for Tompkins County, May 2006. Bill's sightings are recorded as "BE".

Bill writes, June 2, 2013, "I had my first Darapsa choerilus at my home in Tompkins Co., NY last night (pic attached). Feel free to use the pic for your website. I should note that this is the first instance I've recorded this species in the past eight years of active mothing during May-June."

A "WO" after the species name indicates that I have no confirmed reports of this species in Tompkins 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.

Many thanks also to Meena Haribal who has been keeping records for Ithaca.

Meena writes, July 8, 2012, "I went to my moth sheet at 5.20 am and was pleasantly surprised to see a large hawkmoth (Sphinx kalmiae) on the sheet. After some pictures, I tried to take a picture of him on a plant. So I transferred him to a privet. I took some more photos. Then I wanted him on the green leaves. So put him there when he dropped down. I could not relocate him in spite of searching for him thoroughly. I thought he left right under my nose. So then I concentrated on other moths at the sheet. Then I heard the agitated catbird on the privet and suddenly he flew, and then I saw he was chasing the hawkmoth. Hawkmoth first took off straight up and then changed its direction and headed north in open patch. Catbird with zest followed him. The moth did some ups and downs and catbird still in pursuit then he flew to the front of the house. I lost sight of them. So I ran to see if the catbird succeeded. I found catbird on a branch looking like a failure and a moment later he was back near the moth sheet. So I presume the hawkmoth won!

"It was neat chase and was happy to know catbird cannot outsmart the hawkmoth, hey that is why they are called hawkmoths I guess, they fly like hawks! But also, I was unhappy that catbird has keener eyes than mine. I could not locate the moth, but he did! The reason I was looking for the moth in first place was that I did not want him to become catbird's breakfast."

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

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

This moth is a very strong flier, but would only make its way to Tompkins 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 Tompkins.

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

Ceratomia undulosa USGS/BE/MH, the Waved Sphinx

This moth is recorded in Tompkins. 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.

Ceratomia undulosa, May 28, 2006, Danby, Bill Evans
Ceratomia undulosa June 7, 2008; July 12, 2009, Ithaca, Meena Haribal.

Dolba hyloeus USGS, the Pawpaw Sphinx

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

Lapara bombycoides USGS, the Northern Pine Sphinx

This moth is reported from Tompkins, and it is reported to the north, east, south and west. If you have pines, you probably have this species. It flies on P.E.I.

Lintneria eremitus USGS, the Hermit Sphinx

This species is reported in Tompkins. Generally it is not widely reported.

Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

This species is recorded in Suffolk, and it has been seen in nearby counties. I suspect if you grow tomatoes, you are likely to encounter it.

Manduca sexta WO, the Carolina Sphinx

This species is not recorded in Tompkins. If you grow tomatoes, however, you have probably encountered it.

Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.

Paratrea plebeja USGS, 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. North of normal range!

Sphinx chersis USGS, 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 USGS, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

This species is officially reported in Suffolk. 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/MH, the Laurel Sphinx

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

At rest the hindwings are usually completely covered.

Sphinx kalmiae, Ithaca, July 7, 2012, Meena Haribal

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

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

Sphinx poecila WO, the Poecila Sphinx

If you have blueberries in the woods, then you might have the Poecila Sphinx. They are pretty common here on Prince Edward Island, but don't fly too far south of Massachusetts, being replaced by Sphinx gordius in Connecticut. Questionable, near southern limits of range.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis USGS/MH/BE, the Walnut Sphinx

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

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

Amorpha juglandis June 7, 2008, Ithaca, Meena Haribal.
Amorpha juglandis May 13, 2010, Bill Evans.

Pachysphinx modesta USGS/BE/MH, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx
This moth is recorded in Tompkins County. It is fond of poplars and willows.

They are common on Prince Edward Island.

Pachysphinx modesta, May 31, 2007, Bill Evans.
Pachysphinx modesta May 28, 2009; June 7, 2008, July 17, 2012, Ithaca, Meena Haribal.

Paonias excaecata USGS/MH, 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 Tompkins County.
I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as Florida.

Paonias excaecata July 10, 2009, Ithaca, Meena Haribal.

Paonias myops USGS/BE/MH, the Small-eyed Sphinx

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

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

Paonias myops, May 30, 2006, Danby, courtesy of Bill Evans
Paonias myops June 7, 2008, Ithaca, Meena Haribal.

Smerinthus cerisyi USGS/BE, the Cerisyi's Sphinx

Tompkins would be close to the southern limit for this species in New York. I never saw one in New Jersey. At my home in Montague, P.E.I., Canada, they are quite common.

Smerinthus cerisyi, Town of Danby, May 17, 2010, Bill Evans.

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:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris thysbe USGS, the Hummingbird Clearwing

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

Hemaris diffinis USGS, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth

This moth is widespread and has been recorded in Tompkins 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 Tompkins, but has been seen due east, south and west. Questionable.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon USGS, the Achemon Sphinx

This moth is reported for Tompkins, 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 not previously reported.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis USGS, the Nessus Sphinix

This day flier is widely distributed. If you have Virginia Creeper, you probably have the Nessus Sphinx. It is reported from Suffolk.
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 Tompkins. Very Questionable! Unlikely

Darapsa choerilus USGS/BE, 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 confirmed for Tompkins.

Darapsa choerilus, Danby, June 2, 2013, Bill Evans

Darapsa myron USGS/MH, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx
This moth is recorded on the U.S.G.S. site for Tompkins 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 myron, Ithaca, August 9, 2010, Meena Haribal.

Darapsa versicolor USGS, the Hydrangea Sphinx

If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the Hydrangea Sphinx.
It has been reported in Tompkins, but likely is uncommon.

Deidamia inscriptum USGS/MH, the Lettered Sphinx

This species has been recorded in Tompkins and in surrounding areas.

Deidamia inscriptum April 27, 2009; June 7, 2008, Ithaca, Meena Haribal.

Hyles gallii USGS, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is reported in Tompkins. I suspect it would be rare.
Some years I see them on P.E.I., some years, I do not.

Hyles lineata WO, the White-lined Sphinx

This species is not reported from Tompkins County. It flies across southern New York and has strong migrating tendencies. There are records from New Hampshire and Maine.

Sphecodina abbottii USGS/BE, 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 confirmed for Tompkins.

Sphecodina abbottii May 17, 2010, Bill Evans.

Tompkins County Recording Sheets:
Days 1-16 page 1 A. cingulata to S. cerisyi
Days 17-31 page 1 A. cingulata to S. cerisyi
Days 1-16 page 2 H. diffinis to S. abbottii C. grotei very unlikely
Days 17-31 page 2 H. diffinis to S. abbottii C. grotei very unlikely
Days 1-16 blank
Days 17-31 blank

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