Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Jackie Monroe, re. image taken by Maggie Monroe, September 13, 2010
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, September 13, 2010
Updated as per BAMONA, formerly USGS, September 13, 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Curt Lehman, Forest Hills, August 5, 1996; August 7, 2011
Updated as per personal communication with Jana Klausman, September 5, 2012; July 28, 2013

Allegheny County, Southwestern Pennsylvania

Hemaris thysbe, Pittsburg, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania,
September 4, 2010, courtesy of Maggie Monroe, via Jackie Monroe.

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke at
Comments, suggestions and/or additional information/sightings are welcomed by Bill.

This page is dedicated to and inspired by Maggie Monroe and Jackie Monroe. Jackie sent me the image of Hemaris thysbe, taken by her mother Maggie Monroe, top of the page.

Jackie writes, "My parents recently took a road trip along the east coast and they found two interesting insects that I was hoping you could help me identify. The first two pictures I believe to be a Hummingbird Clearwing moth that they spotted sipping nectar from a butterfly bush in Pittsburgh, PA. The last two pictures I think may be a Swallowtail caterpillar that was crossing the sidewalk in Maryland. What do you think?"

I confirmed the sighting of Hemaris thysbe and indicated the butterfly larva was that of Papilio (Pterourus) glaucus, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

Fifty Sphingidae species are listed for Pennsylvania on the U.S.G.S. (now BAMONA) website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Allegheny County (twenty-eight are reported on U.S.G.S. as of September 13, 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 (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or might be 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 to Jana Klausman who has provided images and data for Eumorpha pandorus and Hemaris thysbe.

Hemaris thysbe, Pittsburg, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania,
July 27, 2013, courtesy of Jana Klausman.

Jan writes, "I have a couple butterfly bushes in my yard, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. I was taking pictures of the butterflies today when I came upon something that looked like a mix between a bumble bee and a hummingbird. When I was looking up what it could be I had to smile. Your site is how I identified the Pandora Sphinx Moth that I found on my porch Sept of 2012.

"I wanted to Thank You again for your site and also wanted to share a couple pictures of what I saw today."

Please also send your sightings to BAMONA, an excellent on-line resource.

Visit Allegheny County Sphingidae Larvae

Visit Pennsylvania Catocala (Underwing Moths)

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, USGS Pink-spotted hawkmoth, 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, The Elm Sphinx or Four-horned Sphinx, USGS/CL: Fw upperside brown with dark brown and white markings including white costal area near 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 amyntor, Forest Hills, August 5, 1996, courtesy of Curt Lehman.

Ceratomia catalpae USGS, 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 and the upperside of the hindwing is yellowish brown with obscure lines.
Caterpillars feed gregariously on Catalpa species (Catalpa bignoniodes and C. speciosa).

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

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

Lapara coniferarum USGS, the Southern Pine Sphinx: The upperside is of the forewing is gray with two (sometimes one or three) black dashes near the wing center; other markings are usually diffuse. The upperside of the hindwing is a uniform brown-gray. doubtful, more southeasterly in PA

Lintneria eremitus WO, the Hermit Sphinx: Fw upperside gray-brown with wavy lines, black dashes, and one or two small white spots near center of costa. Larval hosts are various species of beebalm (Monarda), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), sage (Salvia).

Manduca jasminearum USGS, the Ash Sphinx

The upperside of forewing is gray to grayish brown with a black line running from the middle of the costa to the middle of the outer margin; the line may be broken near the margin. There is a splash of brown around the cell spot.

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

Manduca rustica WO, possible stray from further south, the Rustic Sphinx. The abdomen of the adult moth has three pairs of yellow spots. The upperside of the forewing is yellowish brown to deep chocolate brown with a dusting of white scales and zigzagged black and white lines. possible stray

Manduca sexta USGS, the Carolina Sphinx

The abdomen usually has six pairs of yellow bands, broken across the back. The sixth set of markings is quite small. The upperside of the forewing has indistinct black, brown, and white markings.

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 USGS, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx: Fw upperside soft dark gray to blue-gray with series of black dashes, one of which reaches wing tip. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

Forewings, long and slender, are held close to the body when the moth is at rest. Larvae are beautiful and feed on cherry foliage.

Sphinx franckii WO, Franck's Sphinx Moth

This species is not widely reported anywhere.
Similar to S. kalmiae but lacks the dark bar along the fw inner margin. questionable, northern range border

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 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, possibility, but generally more northerly, 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.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis USGS, 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.

Pachysphinx modesta USGS, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

This moth has a large, heavy body, and females can be remarkably plump. Larvae are fond of poplars and willows.

Paonias astylus WO, the Huckleberry Sphinx

This appears to be an uncommon species. The outer margin of the forewing is nearly straight.

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

Paonias myops USGS, the Small-eyed Sphinx

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

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

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.

Smerinthus cerisyi WO, possibility, but generally more northerly, the Cerisyi's Sphinx

At my home in Montague, P.E.I., Canada, they are quite common. I expect they might also be present in Allegheny County, but that would be a southern range border in PA.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos clavipes WO, the Aellopos Sphinx. The body is dark brown with a wide white band across the abdomen. Wings are dark brown. The forewing has a black cell spot and 3 white spots near the pale brown marginal area. Note absence of white scales near hindwing anal angle. possible rare stray

Aellopos titan USGS, the Titan Sphinx. The body is dark brown with a wide white stripe across the abdomen. The wings are dark brown. It is very similar to above species, but the upperside of the hindwing has pale patches along the costa and inner margin. probably misidentification, more likely rare clavipes or fadus or tantalus stray

Erinnyis ello USGS, the Ello Sphinx: Abdomen: very distinct gray and black bands. Female's fw upperside: pale gray with few dark dots near outer margin. Male's fw upperside: dark gray and brown with a black band running from base to tip. Hw upper is orange with wide black border. adult stray

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris thysbe MM,JM/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 thysbe, Pittsburg, September 4, 2010, courtesy of Maggie Monroe, via Jackie Monroe.
Hemaris thysbe, Pittsburg, July 27, 2013, Jana Klausman.

Hemaris diffinis USGS, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth
Adults mimic bumblebees and are quite variable, both geographically and seasonally. The thorax is golden-brown to dark greenish-brown. The abdomen tends to be dark (black) with 1-2 yellow segments just before the terminal end.

Hemaris gracilis USGS, 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.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon USGS, the Achemon Sphinx: Adults nectar from flowers of Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), petunia (Petunia hybrida), mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius), and phlox (Phlox). If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you probably have this species.

Eumorpha pandorus USGS/JK, the Pandorus Sphinx

If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you probably have this species.

Eumorpha pandorus, Pittsburg, September 4, 2012, Jana Klausman.

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

Darapsa choerilus USGS, the Azalea Sphinx

They are common in Pennsylvania and common here on Prince Edward Island.

You will often see this species listed as Darapsa pholus, especially in older literature. Hindwings are the same colour as the abdomen.

Darapsa myron USGS, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx. Fw upperside dark brown to pale yellowish gray, with an olive tint. On costal margin there is dark rectangular patch, although this may be reduced or absent. Hw upperside is pale orange.

Darapsa versicolor USGS, the Hydrangea Sphinx

If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the Hydrangea Sphinx. If it is present, it probably is not common.

Deidamia inscriptum USGS, the Lettered Sphinx

This small species flies in the early spring.

Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus) all serve as larval hosts.

Hyles gallii USGS, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

generally further north, southern range limit in PA

Hyles lineata USGS, 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.

Sphecodina abbottii USGS, 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.

Xylophanes tersa USGS, the Tersa Sphinx

This moth is much more common to the south. It is a strong migrant, however. likely as a stray from further south or east

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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