Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, January 2009
Washington County, New York
Hyles gallii, North Granville, Washington County, New York,
summer 2008, courtesy of Victoria Whitney.
This page is dedicated to Victoria Whitney of North Granville, New York. Victoria confirms Hyles gallii in Washington County.
Victoria writes, "Last Summer I took a photo of this moth in my garden. I had no idea what it was until I was looking through
The Dictionary of Butterflies and Moths. That book only has the Latin names, and, when googling its common name, it brought me to your website.
"I live in Northern New York State, near the Vermont Border. I don't know if that is note worthy, but I didn't think a quick e-mail would hurt."
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
Washington County (only one as of August, 2005,
Amphion floridensis is 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 Washington County, but
I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or
might be present.
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
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
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.
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
The upperside of the forewing is gray with heavy black bands. The upperside of
the hindwing is brownish gray with no markings.
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.
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.
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 more southerly; unlikely)
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 more southerly; unlikely)
Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not
often reported anywhere, but it might possibly be present in Washington County.
Larval hosts are white ash (Fraxinus americana) and blueberry
WO, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash
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.
Forewings, long and slender, are held close to the body when the
moth is at rest.
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.
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.
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.
If you have blueberries in the woods, then you probably have the
They are pretty common here on Prince Edward Island, and
I suspect would be present around blueberry fields in Washington County.
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.
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.
Named for the dull grey-blue spot (minus dark pupil) in the hindwing,
this moth has a wide distribution and is probably common in Washington
I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported
as far south as Florida.
Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide
distribution and is probably common in Wshington County.
I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported
as far south as Florida.
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.
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.
See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish
the next three species.
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
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.
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.
the Achemon Sphinx
This moth is not reported for Washington, 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.
(generally more southerly; unlikely)
If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you might have
I often get asked to identify larvae from areas not
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.
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.
WO, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the
It is widely reported as far north as southern Maine. If you have the
foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this
If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the
This species has been recorded in northeastern New York,
and has been reported to the south so might be present.
WO/VW, 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.
Victoria Whitney confirms
this species in North Granville.
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.
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.
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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