Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 2010
Updated as per Butterflies and Moths of North America website, formerly USGS, July 14, 2010
Inspired by and dedicated to Victor Cooper, July 14, 2010

Geauga County, Ohio
Sphingidae

Hemaris species, thysbe or gracilis, Auburn Township, Geauga County, Ohio,
July 2010, courtesy of Victor Cooper.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Victor Cooper who sent the sighting/image of either Hemaris thysbe or Hemaris gracilis, at top of the page. The moth was encountered in Auburn Township, Geauga County, Ohio, July 2010.

Victor writes, "I WAS SITTING ON MY PORCH AND NOTICED THIS LITTLE GUY FLYING AROUND, UNFORTUNATELY MY DIGITAL CAMERA IS NOT THE GREATEST AND THIS IS THE BEST SHOT I COULD GET. IS THIS A CLEARWING AND IF SO ARE THEY COMMON TO GEAUGA COUNTY? I LIVE IN AUBURN TOWNSHIP AND THIS IS THE FIRST ONE IVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE."

I replied, "It is either Hemaris thysbe, the Hummingbird Clearwing moth, or Hemaris gracilis, the Graceful or Slender Clearwing. Both are members of the Sphingidae family. The characters that would distinguish them are not evident (in view) in your image. Both species are likely in Geauga County, and probably are quite common there. If you provide date and your last name, I will post your image of the Hemaris species, credited to you, to a thumbnail checklist page for Geauga County, Ohio. The page wil help you and many others with ids form your county. Thanks for thinking of me. It is most likely Hemaris thysbe, but I cannot be certain."

Thirty-three Sphingidae species are listed for Ohio on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Geauga County (Two are reported on U.S.G.S. as of July 14, 2010). 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 Geauga County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be present.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, WO Pink-spotted hawkmoth, possible but unlikely stray

This species is a strong migrant and adults nectar from deep-throated flowers including moonflower (Calonyction aculeatum), morning glory (Convolvulus), honey suckle (Lonicera) and petunia (Petunia species).

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

The upperside of the forewing is yellowish brown with no white markings, but there are indistinct black lines and dashes. The cell spot is gray with a black outline. The larvae feed in large groups and are much more spectacular than the moths.
Catalpa is the larval host.

Ceratomia undulosa WO, 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 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 WO, the Northern Pine Sphinx

If you have pines, you might have this species. It flies on P.E.I.

The upperside of the forewing is gray with heavy black bands. The upperside of the hindwing is brownish gray with no markings. possibility

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

I suspect if you grow tomatoes, you are likely to encounter Manduca quinquemaculatus.

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.

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 chersis WO, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx

Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum USGS, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

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

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

This one is not reported from Geauga County, but it is a good possibility

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. Patterns range from faint to pronounced. 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.

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 in the eastern United States. 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 Geauga 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 is found in the southern regions of all Canadian provinces and in northern border states. The one-eyed sphinx is also found along the U.S. west coast, eastward to the Rockies. maybe, but generally a more northerly species.

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, 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

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.

Hemaris diffinis WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth
Adults mimic bumblebees and are quite variable. The wings are basically clear, with dark brown to brownish-orange veins, bases and edges. The thorax is golden-brown to dark greenish-brown. The abdomen tends to be dark (black) with 1-2 yellow segments before the tip.

Hemaris gracilis WO, the Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing: Hemaris gracilis has a pair of red-brown bands on the sides of the thorax. Abdomen is red. Wings are transparent with reddish brown borders. Outer edge of forewing transparent area is even and forewing cell has median row of scales. Note red coloration on dorsal surface of legs.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx

Larvae get large and feed on grape vines and Virginia creeper.

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 WO, the Nessus Sphinix

This day flier is widely distributed. If you have Virginia Creeper, you probably have the Nessus Sphinx.

Two bright, distinct, narrow yellow bands are often visible on the abdomen.

Darapsa choerilus WO, the Azalea Sphinx

The lower wings of this hawkmoth are a solid brownish-orange, matching the body colour.

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

If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this species nearby. The lower wings are orange.

Darapsa versicolor WO, the Hydrangea Sphinx: If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you might have the Hydrangea Sphinx. FW upperside is often greenish brown with curved dark lines and pinkish-white patches. HW upperside is pale yellow to reddish brown with white along costal margin, greenish brown along outer margin, and white shaded with greenish brown on inner margin.

Deidamia inscriptum WO, the Lettered Sphinx

The moth's outer margin of the forewing is deeply scalloped. The upperside is light brown with dark brown markings. There is a small black and white spot near the tip. Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus) all serve as larval hosts.

Hyles lineata WO, the White-lined Sphinx

This species has strong migrating tendancies from much further south. 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.

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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