Lincoln County


Twenty-three Sphingidae species are listed in the USGS for Oregon. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Lincoln County.

Smerinthus cerisyi (more likely Smerinthus ophthalmica), Siletz, Lincoln County, Oregon,
September 30, 2006, courtesy of Marita and Monteen Nash.

Monteen writes, "My daughter Marita found this unusual looking caterpillar today on our property near Siletz, Lincoln County, Oregon. After looking at your site, we believe it is a One-eyed Sphinx..are we right? I am emailing you a few photos I shot of it for your identification purposes. She is supposed to try to monitor a caterpillar turning into a moth/butterfly for her 3rd grade science class and then release it after it changes in time for migration..printed out your info on this caterpillar-feed it leaves from tree she found it by, what about water needs? Supplied by the leaves or needs additional source of water? Thank you for your anticipated response."

I wrote back: Monteen, I have some good news and some bad news.

The good news is I can confirm your id as Smerinthus cerisyi, revised to S. ophthalmica.

The bad news is the oblong white shapes concentrated near the head and thorax are the eggs of a parasitic wasp or fly.

If the parasite larvae have already hatched, they will have bored underneath the egg capsule through the skin of the caterpillar into its body. They then begin eating the fatty tissues and internal organs of the caterpillar which is hopelessly doomed. It may still pupate, but more likely it will keep feeding until the parasite larvae are mature and leave the body by boring back out through the skin and forming small white cocoons on the caterpillar's back. Gross!

See the picture of Manduca rustica larva at bottom of the following page:

It is a bug eat bug out there! There is a very slight possibility (remote) that you and only you can still rescue the caterpillar.

You must take a sharp needle or pin and carefully pick off the wasp eggs without poking the caterpillar.

Based on the number of eggs, you have extensive surgery to perform. If there is no little black mark under the eggs, indicating larvae have already hatched and burrowed into the body, then the caterpillar can be rescued.

If the parasite larvae have already borrowed in, it is almost assuredly too late.

Maybe there is one chance in a thousand that parasite larvae have hatched only in last day or so and are close to skin surface. If that is the case, treatment of little black dots with a swab of mercurichrome (sp?) or iodine, may kill the parasites before they have done irreparable damage.

An interesting feature of the parasites is that they secrete a growth hormone that keeps the moth caterpillar feeding until they have matured. Then the moth caterpillar dies.

The adult parasitic wasps or flies are harmless to humans.

I do not think anyone will fault you if you do not try to rescue!

However, the effort, especially if it is successful, will probably be etched in your daughter's mind for the rest of her life. Good luck either way. It is a bug eat bug world out there."

Monteen is attempting the rescue. Best of luck.

Please tell your Marita that I say you are being extremely brave and caring to even attempt the surgery. You might try putting it in the refrigerator for about twnety minutes in a tupperware type dish with lid on tight to cool it down and slow metabolism, but it doesn't understand you are only trying to help. You are too late if you see the little black entry hole under the egg. Otherwise you may stil be okay. Ask Marita to say a prayer. Your efforts and the prayer are all the tiny bug has going for it, and maybe Marita found it in time.

Best of luck.

It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you have encountered.

A WO" after the species name indicates that I have no confirmed reports of this species in Lincoln County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present.

Please help me develop this list with improved, documented accuracy by sending sightings (species, date, location), preferably with an image, via email to Bill Oehlke.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini Tribe:

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

This large bodied moth flies in tobacco fields and vegetable gardens (potatoes, tomatoes) and wherever host plants are found.

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.

Sphinx perelegans WO, the Elegant Sphinx

Sphinx perelegans adults fly in montane woodlands and mixed chaparral-type vegetation as a single brood in the north, with adults mainly on the wing in June and July.

It flies from dusk until after midnight.

Sphinx vashti WO, the Snowberry Sphinx,

Snowberry Sphinx adults fly as a single brood in montane woodlands and along prairie streamcourses from April to August.
The upperside of the forewing has a narrow black subterminal line bordered by a white inverted V-shaped line on the outside, and a black line at the apex.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Paonias excaecata WO, the Blinded Sphinx,

The outer margin of the forewing is quite wavy. There is a dark cell spot and a dark oblique line mid wing from the costa almost to the inner margin. Basic ground colour is pinkish brown.

Flight would be June-July.

Smerinthus cerisyi WO, the Cerisyi's Sphinx or One-eyed Sphinx,

Larvae feed on poplars and willows.

Flight would be from late May-July as a single brood.

Smerinthus opthalmica MPNw

Larvae feed on poplars, aspen and willows. Note different shape of double arced forewing pm line compared to the straighter pm line of cerisyi, directly above. S. ophthalmica has smoother scalloping of the fw outer margin.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini Tribe:

Hemaris diffinis WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth,

The moth flies along forest edges and in meadows, gardens and brushy fields. Day-flying adults nectar at lantana, dwarf bush honeysuckle, snowberry, orange hawkweed, thistles, lilac, Canada violet, etc.

Macroglossini Tribe:

Hyles lineata WO, the White-lined Sphinx

Adults usually fly at dusk, during the night, and at dawn, but they also fly during the day over a wide variety of open habitats including deserts, suburbs, and gardens.

Proserpinus clarkiae WO, Clark's Sphinx,

Adults fly in the afternoon from April-June in oak woodland and pine-oak woodland in foothills, nectaring from chia, heartleaf milkweed, golden currant, bluedicks, fairyfans, vetches, thistles, hedgenettles, etc.

Proserpinus flavofasciata WO, the Yellow-banded Day Sphinx,

Proserpinus flavofasciata adults fly from April-June in meadows in coniferous forests. Adults fly during the afternoon, nectaring from lilac, dandelion, cherry, etc.

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Please send sightings/images to Bill. I will do my best to respond to requests for identification help.

Enjoy some of nature's wonderments: Saturniidae cocoons. Cocoons of the giant silkmoths may be purchased in the fall and winter. Big and beautiful giant silk moths will emerge in spring/summer. Read Actias luna rearing article. Additional online help available.