Providence County, Rhode Island

Sphingidae

Sphecodina abbottii, July 15, 2006, North Providence, R.I., courtesy of Lauri Tierno

This page is dedicated to Laurie Tierno who sent me the Sphecodina abbottii larval image at top of page.

Laurie writes, July 25, 2007: "I had two Sphecodina abbottii larva under my deck last summer. I have been trying to find out what they are for the past year.

"I live in North Providence, RI. I have grape vines growing under my deck. Thought you would enjoy the pictures."

Eleven Sphingidae species are listed for Rhode Island on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Providence County. (five are reported on U.S.G.S.: Manduca sexta, Sphinx gordius, Hemaris thysbe, Eumorpha pandorus, Deidamia inscriptum).

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 your county, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present or or might be present. I have added many species.

A USGS indicates the moth is reported in the USGS 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.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata WO stray

This species would only be enountered in Newport County as a stray from much further south.
The moth is a very strong flier and is frequently encountered far north of its usual range.

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

This is generally a more southerly species, but it may be present in Newport County near Catalpa Trees. I saw them in great numbers in New Jersey.

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. Larve are not limited to pawpaw.

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 WO, 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.

Manduca jasminearum WO the Ash Sphinx

This species is not recorded in Newport County and usually is not found north of Connecticut.

This moth is a strong flier and may occasionally stray into Rhode Island.

Manduca quinquemaculata 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 have encountered it.

Manduca rustica WO, the Rustic Sphinx

Look for three large yellow spots on each side of the abdomen. 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

This species is recorded in Newport County. If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it.

Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.

Paratrea plebeja WO, the Plebian 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
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. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, the Wild Cherry Sphinx
Sphinx drupiferarum larvae hide in the day and feed primarily on cherry, plum, and apple at night. Larvae have been found on Amelanchier nantuckensis in Massachusetts.

Sphinx 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.

Sphinx gordius USGS, the Apple Sphinx

This species is present in Newport County.
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.

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 poecila WO, the Poecila Sphinx

If you have blueberries in the woods, then you probably 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.

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.
See the file for the female; she is different.

Pachysphinx modesta WO, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

This moth is not officially reported from Newport County, but it may be present.

They are common on Prince Edward Island.

Paonias astylus WO, the Huckleberry Sphinx

Paonias astylus, the Huckleberry Sphinx (wingspan 55-65 mm), ranges from Maine south to Florida, west to Missouri and Mississippi.

Paonias excaecata WO, the Blinded Sphinx

Named for the dull grey-blue spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is probably common in Newport County.

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 Newport County.

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

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, the Twin-spotted Sphinx
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.
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 confirmed for Newport.

They are widely distributed in the east from P.E.I. to Florida.

Hemaris gracilis WO, The Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing

This day flier is not commonly reported, but is probably present in Newport.

Hemaris diffinis WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth

Adults mimic bumblebees and are quite variable, both geographically and seasonally. The wings are basically clear, with dark brown to brownish-orange veins, bases and edges.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx

This moth is not reported for Newport, but 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/Scott, 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 where they have not previously been reported.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO , the Nessus Sphinix

This day flier is widely distributed although not officially recorded in Newport County. If you have Virginia Creeper, you probably have the Nessus Sphinx.
Two bright, distinct, narrow yellow bands are often visible on the abdomen.

Cautethia grotei WO , Grote's Sphinix

The upperside of the forewing is pale silvery gray with black markings. The upperside of the hindwing is deep yellow-orange with a black border that covers less than half the wing. rare

Darapsa choerilus WO , 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.

Darapsa myron WO, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx
This moth is not recorded on the USGS site for Newport 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 versicolor WO, the Hydrangea Sphinx

If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the Hydrnagea Sphinx.

It has not been widely reported, however, and probably is uncommon.

Deidamia inscriptum USGS , 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. The upperside of the hindwing is orange-brown with a dark brown outer margin and median line.

Hyles gallii WO , the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is reported in nearby counties.

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 Newport County. It is a strong migrator from the south, and there are records from the west and to the north.

Sphecodina abbottii WO , the Abbott's Sphinx

This moth is very much under reported. It is a rapid day flier so is probably not in too many collections.

Grape is a popular larval host.

Xylophanes tersa WO , the Tersa Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale brown with lavender-gray at the base and has dark brown lengthwise lines throughout. The upperside of the hindwing is dark brown with a band of whitish, wedge-shaped marks.




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