Pickens County


Forty Sphingidae species are listed for South Carolina on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Pickens (twenty-five are reported on U.S.G.S.) in northwestern South Carolina. 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 Pickens, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present. An * indicates the moth is reported on the U.S.G.S. list.

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", The Pink-spotted Hawkmoth

This moth is a strong flier with strong migration tendencies and is frequently encountered out of its more normal southerly range, although it may breed in South Carolina.

Ceratomia amyntor *, the Elm Sphinx or Four-horned Sphinx

This moth is officially recorded in Essex on U.S.G.S. site, and it has been taken in eastern Maine and eastern New Hampshire and in much of Connecticut.
Larvae feed on Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), and cherry (Prunus).

Ceratomia catalpae *, the Catalpa Sphinx

If you have catalpa trees nearby, you are likely to encounter this sphinx. 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 *, the Waved Sphinx

This moth is not officially recorded in Clarendon, but it has been observed to the north, west and south. I even see this one on Prince Edward Island in eastern Canada.
It is named for the wavy lines on the forewings.

Cocytius antaeus *, the Giant Sphinx

This moth is a strong flier with strong migration tendencies and is sometimes encountered out of its more normal southerly range. It would be a rare stray into South Carolina.

Dolba hyloeus *, the Pawpaw Sphinx

Larve are not limited to pawpaw.

Lapara coniferarum *, the Southern Pine Sphinx

This species is widely distributed in South Carolina.

If you've got pines, this species is likely present.

Manduca jasminearum WO, the Ash sphinx

Although ash is the popular larval foodplant, lilac and elm are also used.

This species seems more common along the coast from Connecticut to Florida, but it has been seen in western North Carolina.

Manduca quinquemaculata WO the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

This species is not officially recorded in Pickens, but I suspect if you grow tomatoes you have encountered it. Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.

Manduca rustica *, Rustic sphinx

This species has forewings patterned much like Dolba hyloeus, but Manduca rustica is much larger and more likely to be spotted in Clarendon.
Moonflowers and petunias are favourite nectar sources.

Manduca sexta *, the Carolina Sphinx

If you grow tomatoes you have probably encountered this species. They come readily to lights.

Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.

Paratrea plebeja WO, Plebeian Sphinx

Although not officially reported in Pickens County, I feel it is likely present.
It flies both in southwestern North Carolina and Northwestern Georgia. It could easily be confused with Ceratomia catalpae.

Sphinx drupiferarum *, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

This species is confirmed but may not be common. We have them on P.E.I., but I do not see them nearly as frequently as I see the other Sphingidae.

Sphinx kalmiae *, the Laurel Sphinx

This species is confirmed in Pickens. I have taken them on P.E.I., Canada, and reared them on lilac.

At rest the hindwings are usually completely covered.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis "WO", the Walnut Sphinx

This is the first Sphinx species I reared as a boy in New Jersey. See the file for the female; she is different.
larvae feed upon Walnut and butternut (Juglans), hickory (Carya), alder (Alnus), beech (Fagus), hazelnut (Corylus), and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya).

Paonias excaecata *, the Blinded Sphinx

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

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

Paonias myops *, the Small-eyed Sphinx

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

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

Smerinthus jamaicensis *, the Twin-spotted Sphinx

This moth is widely distributed and fairly common. It is confirmed for Pickens and in nearby S.C. counties.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

Enyo lugubris *, Mournful Sphinx

This moth is much more common in the deep south.

Larvae probably feed on Vitus tiliifolia and other members of the Vitaceae family: Vitis, Cissus, Ampelopsis.

Hemaris thysbe *, the Hummingbird Clearwing

This interesting day flier is confirmed for Pickens.

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

Hemaris diffinis *, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth

This moth is widely distributed and is confirmed for Pickens.

This moth flies during the day and frequently nectars at flowers.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon *, the Achemon Sphinx

This moth 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 *, 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 *, the Nessus Sphinix

This species is probably much more widely distributed than is indicated. As a (rapid) day flier it would not be readily collected. 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 *, the Azalea Sphinx

You will often see this species listed as Darapsa pholus, especially in older literature.

It is widespread in its distribution. I have reared them on Prince Edward Island from locally caught females.

Pupae tend to be very lively.

Darapsa myron *, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx
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 *, the Hydrangea Sphinx

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

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

Deidamia inscriptum *, the Lettered Sphinx

I do not know the origin of the species name choice, but "inscripta" may have been chosen for the parallel "lines" on the forewings, suggesting lines of script.

Hyles lineata *, the White-lined Sphinx

This species is widespread in the United States, and people regularly report finding larvae in their gardens. The species also migrates, and sometimes there are population explosions.

Sphecodina abbottii RT, 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 *, Tersa Sphinx

I took one as a boy in New Jersey, but they are much more common in the southern states. People often find larvae in their gardens.

Specodina abbottii has been confirmed by Ryan Taylor.

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