Sphinx canadensis

Sphinx canadensis
SfinksMkah-nuh-DENS-ihs
Boisduval, [1875]

Sphinx canadensis, Peterborough, Ontario, June 13, 2005, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

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

TAXONOMY:

Family: Sphingidae, Latreille, 1802
Subfamily: Sphinginae, Latreille, 1802
Tribe: Sphingini, Latreille, 1802
Genus: Sphinx Linnaeus, 1758 ...........
Species: canadensis Boisduval, [1875]

DISTRIBUTION:

The Canadian Sphinx Moth, Sphinx canadensis (Wing span: 2 3/4 - 3 3/8 inches (7 - 8.5 cm)), flies from Newfoundland west to western Ontario and into Manitoba; south to New York, Kentucky, and Arkansas. Quebec is the specimen type locality.

Dr. Richard Westwood, Associate Professor Center for Forest Interdisciplinary Research and Depts. of Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Winnipeg, reports they are moderately common near Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Visit Sphinx canadensis, Bailey's Harbor, Door County, Wisconsins, July 16, 2001, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

I have never seen one on Prince Edward Island. Sphinx canadensis Peterborough, Ontario, June 13, 2005, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

The absence of the white spot on each forewing and the more brownish coloration serve to separate canadensis from S. poecilus. The hindwing fringe also tends to be white on poecilus and checkered brownish on canadensis.

Sphinx canadensis scan by Bill Oehlke.

The scan above is from a specimen sent to me by Reginald P. Webster of New Brunswick.

The upperside of the forewing is gray-brown or yellow-gray with black streaks along and between the veins and an interrupted white line along the outer margin. The upperside of the hindwing is black with white bands.

Sphinx canadensis, Peterborough, Ontario, June 30, 2005, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

Sphinx canadensis, Peterborough, Ontario, June 30, 2005, courtesy of Tim Dyson.

In July of 2010 Dave Small sent me images which he had tentatively identified as Sphinx canadensis from Athol, Worcester County, Massachusetts. I spent some time looking at the images and wrote back to Dave that I felt the moth in question was more likley Sphinx chersis. I have assembled a Sphinx canadensis vs Sphinx chersis comparison page, based on what I think?? are fairly consistent diagnostic feature to help distinguish the two species. It is possible that the characters I have indicated are not consistent across a large number of specimens.

Sphinx canadensis, Medford, Taylor County, Wisconsin,
June 4, 2011, courtesy of Joan F. Rickert.

Joan F. Rickert writes regarding the image directly above, "This picture was taken on June 4, 2011. It was high up on the house eave so I couldn’t get a picture of the hind wings. I think it is either an Ash Sphinx or Canadian Sphinx. There was a Waved Sphinx nearby and it seemed about the same size."

I feel it is Sphinx canadensis, based on the characters mentioned in the canadensis vs chersis comparison page, and the size comparison mentioned by Joan supports that determination.

Sphinx canadensis, Rimouski, Quebec,
courtesy of Jim Fortin.

Sphinx canadensis, Rimouski, Quebec,
courtesy of Jim Fortin.

FLIGHT TIMES:

Sphinx canadensis adults fly as a single brood from May-September in the northeast. There are two broods from May-June and August-September in Arkansas. Joan F. Rickert reports an early June flight in Medford, Taylor County, Wisconsin. Derek Bridgehouse reports a June 25 flight (unusually early; JF) in Quebec.

Jim Fortin reports, "The flight period for eastern Quebec (Rimouski) starts near June 20 and continues until July 20 for sure, maybe later, but the latest I have hunted was in the third week of July. In eastern Quebec, I see most specimens in the first half of July."

Sphinx canadensis, Rimouski, Quebec,
June 25, 2014, courtesy of Derek Bridgehouse.

ECLOSION:

Pupae probably wiggle to surface from subterranean chambers just prior to eclosion.

SCENTING AND MATING:

Females call in the males with a pheromone released from a gland at the tip of the abdomen. Adults probably nectar at a variety of flowers.

EGGS, LARVAE, PUPAE:

Early reported (probably in error) larval hosts are white ash (Fraxinus americana) and blueberry (Vaccinium). Based on observations by James P. Tuttle it may be that this species feeds exclusively on black ash (Fraxinus nigra).

Jim Fortin reports, "I confirm from my observations that the species only accepts black ash (Fraxinus nigra)." Jim adds, "I tried them last summer (2015) on white ash ... all died and NEVER took a bite. And this year with black ash there was a superb survival rate!"

Sphinx canadensis eggs, Rimouski, Quebec,
courtesy of Jim Fortin.

Pale green, slightly oval, spherical eggs are deposited in small clusters on host plant foliage.

Sphinx canadensis early instars, Rimouski, Quebec,
courtesy of Jim Fortin.

Sphinx canadensis third to fifth? instars, Rimouski, Quebec,
courtesy of Jim Fortin.

Sphinx canadensis fifth instar on black ash, Three Rivers SGA, St. Joseph County, Michigan,
courtesy of James P. Tuttle.

Sphinx canadensis fifth instar on black ash, Three Rivers SGA, St. Joseph County, Michigan,
September 1994, courtesy of James P. Tuttle.

Larvae can be quite variable.

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Sphinx canadensis, Metcalfe County, Kentucky,
August 12, 2016, Derek Bridgehouse.