Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Melody Lytle, September, 2005
Updated as per personal communication with Amy Smith, October, 2005
Updated as per personal communication with Michael van Buskirk, May, 2006, ongoing
Updated as per personal communication with Steve Schwartzman, May, 2007
Updated as per personal communication with Rick Gentry, May, 2008
Updated as per personal communication with Valerie G., November, 2009
Updated as per personal communication with Paul Taylor and Jennifer Marez, August, 2010
Updated as per personal communication with Eric Runfeldt, May, 2011, September 2012
Updated as per personal communication with Robert Breeze, May, 2011
Updated as per personal communication with Ola Hudgins, July, 2011
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, (Lintneria classification); August 5, 2011
Updated as per personal communication with Ann Gordon, August 5, 2011
Updated as per personal communication with Beth Fortin Trudell, July 18, 2012
Updated as per personal communication with Deborah Wilson, August 31, 2012
Updated as per personal communication with Fred Colwell (Amorpha juglandis, Salada, Bell County, September 12, 2012); September 13, 2012
Lee Clippard has granted permission for my use of his Sphingidae images at http://the-grackle.blogspot.com/2013/03/pawpaw-sphinx-moth.html; March 19, 2013
Updated as per personal communication with Melinda Adams (Amorpha juglandis, Priddy, Mills County, May 12, 2014); May 13, 2014
Updated as per personal communication with Jeremy Sanders, (Eumorpha pandorus, Rockland, Milam County, July 20, 2014); July 21, 2014

Central Texas
Sphingidae

Eumorpha vitis, Austin, Texas, September 19, 2005, courtesy of Melody Lytle.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Melody Lytle who sent me the pictures of Eumorpha vitis larvae from Austin (Travis County) at the top and bottom of this page. Melody also forwarded the image of the Amorpha juglandis female at the bottom of the page. The picture was taken by Frances Schenkkan.

Melody writes, September 19, 2005, "I found the following larvae this week in an urban Austin preserve on an Agarito bush (Berberis trifoliolata, Berberidaceae) seemingly eating both the agarito leaves (thick, stiff and pointed) and those of a vine growing through the bush, Cissus incisa, Vitaceae (softer, thick leaves). There were two large larvae on the same bush each of the three days I visited the area, from 9/16 to 9/19.

"Though there was no anterior horn, they look like the tomato hornworms I find in my garden. Is the horn always everted? One took this flattened posture when I approached with the camera and was still flattened (retracted) when I returned to the spot two or three hours later. Is this a tomato hornworm and is this an unusual food plant?

"You are more than welcome to use the shots for any non-profit educational purpose including your website."

I identified the larva for Melody. Mature Eumorpha vitis larvae do not have an anal horn and will retract the head and thorax when disturbed.

A special thanks also goes to Ann Gordon (AG) of Harris Creek, McLennan County, West of Waco, for the many sightings she provides with data for her immediate area. Ann ws also able to document Aellopos fadus with pictures.

Many thanks also to those who have contributed images and data for this page. The page will be updated as more info and images are submitted.

Thanks to Fred Colwell who provides the following image of Amorpha juglandis.

Amorpha juglandis, Salada, Bell County, Texas,
September 12, 2012, courtesy of Fred Colwell.

Seventy-five Sphingidae species are listed for Texas on the U.S.G.S. website (now BAMONA). Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in the central region. It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you are likely to encounter.

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.

The night-blooming moon flower will attract many Sphingidae at dusk and into the night.

Visit Sphingidae Larvae of Central Texas for a larval thumbnail checklist.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, USGS Pink-spotted hawkmoth. 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 USGS, 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

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. The larvae feed in large groups and are much more spectacular than the moths.
Catalpa is the larval host. generally more eastern species

Ceratomia hageni WO, Hagen's Sphinx or Osage Orange Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is gray with a green tint and has dark indistinct wavy lines, and pale gray patches at the wing tip and along the costa. generally more eastern species

Ceratomia undulosa USGS, 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.

Michael van Buskirk comments on Ceratomia undulosa from Bexar County. "I have learned to find the larvae with relative ease along creeks on the local Fraxinus berlandieriana (Mexican Ash) saplings. I see two broods--one in March-May, and the other in September-November. The June-August time is so hot and humid that I wonder (no real data to back this up) if the spring pupae wait until it cools off in September to emerge. My hunch is that many of the Sphingids use this strategy here."

Dolba hyloeus WO/MVB/AG, 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. generally more eastern species

Dolba hyloeus: Michael van Buskirk confirms in Bexar County, May 2006.
Dolba hyloeus Austin, Texas, May 13, 2008, courtesy of Rick Gentry.
Dolba hyloeus, McGregor, McLennan County, September 27, 2010, Ann Gordon.

Isoparce cupressi USGS, the Cypress or Baldcypress Sphinx

Isoparce cupressi, the rare Cypress Sphinx, flies in Cypress swamps in Georgia (specimen type locality), and from Maryland to Texas. It has been reported in Mexico.

Lintneria eremitoides USGS, the Sage Sphinx Moth

The upperside of the forewing is pale gray with a yellowish tint, wavy black lines and dashes, and inconspicuous white spots.

Lintneria istar WO, the Istar Sphinx. The upperside of the forewing is dark gray with brown tinges. A series of narrow dashes runs from the tip to the cell spots, and a wide black band runs from the middle of the outer margin to the base of the wing. It flies to the east and to the south and might be present.

Lintneria geminus USGS, the Gemmed Sphinx Moth: The upperside of the forewing is gray with wavy black and light gray bands and two small gray spots near the center of the costa.

Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth: I suspect if you grow tomatoes, you are likely to encounter Manduca quinquemaculata.

Manduca rustica USGS/AG/JM 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.

Manduca rustica, McGregor, McLennan County, August 5, 2010, Ann Gordon.
Manduca rustica, south Austin, August 2, 2012, Jackson MacLean

Manduca sexta USGS/AG/ER, the Carolina Sphinx

If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered Manduca sexta in the larval stage.

Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.

Manduca sexta, McGregor, McLennan County, July 1, 2011, Ann Gordon.
Manduca sexta, Lake Waco Wetlands, McLennan County, September 15, 2012, Eric Runfeldt.

Paratrea plebeja USGS, 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.

Paratrea plebeja: Michael van Buskirk, Bexar County, May 2005

Sphinx dollii USGS, the Doll's sphinx

Sphinx dollii (Wing span: 1 3/4 - 2 1/2 inches (4.5 - 6.3 cm)), flies in arid brushlands and desert foothills from Nevada and southern California east through Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico to Oklahoma and Texas.

Sphinx libocedrus USGS, the Incense Cedar Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale blue-gray to dark gray with a black dash reaching the wing tip and a white stripe along the lower outer margin.
The upperside of the hindwing is black with two diffuse white bands, the upper one being practically non-existent.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis FS/ML/USGS/AG/FC/MA, the Walnut Sphinx. Highly variable; sometimes wings 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. Female is different.

Amorpha juglandis: Michael van Buskirk reports them as common in Bexar County.
Amorpha juglandis, McGregor, McLennan County, July 9, 2011, Ann Gordon.
Amorpha juglandis, Salada, Bell County, September 12, 2012, Fred Colwell.
Amorpha juglandis, Priddy, Mills County, May 12, 2014, Melinda Adams.

Pachysphinx modesta USGS, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

They are common on Prince Edward Island, and are probably common in your region.

Paonias excaecata WO, the Blinded Sphinx: Named for the dull grey-blue spot (minus dark pupil) in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution in the eastern United States. I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as Florida. generally more eastern species

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.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos clavipes USGS, 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. rare

Aellopos fadus USGS/AG, the Fadus Sphinx: The body is brown with a wide white band across the abdomen. The upperside of wings is dark brown; the forewing has two bands of pale spots and lacks a black spot (typical of clavipes) at the end of the cell. The double outer band in its upper half is diagnostic for fadus. rare

Aellopos fadus, McGregor, McLennan County, August 4, 2011, Ann Gordon.

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. rare

Enyo lugubris, the Mournful Sphinx, MVB: The body and wings are dark brown. The forewing has a large black patch covering most of the outer half of the wing. There is a pale tan cell spot (dark inner pupil), and a fairly straight median line to the inside of the cell spot.

Enyo lugubris, October 20, 2007, Grey Forest, Bexar County, Michael van Buskirk

Erinnyis ello USGS, the Ello Sphinx

This species is sporadically reported southern Texas counties.
Males and females differ.

Erinnyis lassauxi VG, the Dominican Sphinx: This moth flies in Haiti and Jamaica south to Paraguay and Bolivia with occasional sightings in Texas and Arizona.
This species is present in southern portions of this region.

Erinnyis lassauxi larva, Zilker Preserve, Austin, Travis County,
on talayote (Cynanchum racemosum), a milkweed vine, November 7, 2009, Valerie G.

Erinnyis obscura, the Obscure Sphinx, USGS: During the night adults nectar at flowers, including bouncing bet (Saponaria officinalis) and Asystasia gangetica beginning at dusk.

July and August are flight times in the southern states. rare

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next two species.

Hemaris thysbe WO/RKc/MVB, 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. generally more eastern species

Hemaris thysbe: Michael van Buskirk confirms them in Bexar County, based on specimens in Roy Kendall collection.

Hemaris diffinis USGS/ER/AG, Snowberry Clearwing; Bumblebee Moth. Adults mimic bumblebees; quite variable. Wings: basically clear, with dark brown to brownish-orange veins, bases, edges. Thorax golden-brown to dark greenish-brown. Abdomen: dark (black) with 1-2 yellow segments before tip.

Hemaris diffinis ovipositing on honeysuckle, Killeen, Bell County, May 4, 2011, Eric Runfeldt.
Hemaris diffinis, McGregor, McLennan County, July 25, 2010, Ann Gordon.

Pachylia ficus, the Fig Sphinx, USGS. Fw upperside orangish brown with a paler patch along the costa at the tip. The hindwing upperside is orange to orangish brown with a black outer border, a black median band, and a white spot on the outer margin near the body.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon USGS, the Achemon Sphinx: Larvae get large and feed on grape vines and Virginia creeper. Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx.

Eumorpha anchemolus USGS, the Achemon Sphinx: The moth's upperside is dark brown. The forewings have diffuse white markings, a white patch near the center of the inner margin, and a single dark spot at the end of the cell. rare stray

Eumorpha fasciatus USGS, the Banded Sphinx: The upperside of the moth is dark pinkish brown. Each forewing has a lighter brown band along the costa, and sharp pinkish white bands and streaks. Larvae feed upon primrose-willow, Ludwigia (water primrose) and other plants in the evening primrose family.

Eumorpha fasciatus: Michael van Buskirk reports larvae in Bexar County. No adults seen at lights.

Eumorpha pandorus USGS/AG, 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 not previously reported. generally more eastern species

Eumorpha pandorus, McGregor, McLennan County, September 30, 2010, Ann Gordon.
Eumorpha pandorus, Rockland, Milam County, July 20, 2014, Jeremy Sanders.

Eumorpha vitis USGS/Amy Smith/AG, the Vine Sphinx: The upperside of the moth is dark pinkish brown. Each forewing has a lighter brown band along the costa, and sharp pinkish white bands and streaks. The hindwing has a pink patch on the inner margin. Note large brown parallelogram between lowest striga up to transverse lines.

Eumorpha vitis, Bulverde near San Antonio, Bexar County, Amy Smith, October 5, 2005
Eumorpha vitis: Michael van Buskirk, Helotes, Bexar County, common, March-October, eggs on Vitis incisa.
Eumorpha vitis, northeast side of San Antonio, Bexar County, Paul (PT) R. Taylor and Jennifer Marez, August 18, 2010
Eumorpha vitis, San Antonio, Bexar County, Robert Breeze, May 14, 2011
Eumorpha vitis, San Antonio, Bexar County, Ola Hudgins, July 20, 2011
Eumorpha vitis, McGregor, McLennan County, July 31, 2010, Ann Gordon.
Eumorpha vitis, San Antonio, Bexar County, Beth Fortin Trudell, July 17, 2012
Eumorpha vitis, Rollingwood, Travis County, August 30, 2012, Deborah Wilson.
Eumorpha vitis, Round Rock, Williamson County, July 29, 2014, Texactor.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis USGS/AG/DW, 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.

Amphion floridensis, McGregor, McLennan County, March 3, 2011, Ann Gordon.
Amphion floridensis, Austin, Travis County, May 14, 2011, Deborah Wilson.

Darapsa choerilus USGS/AG, the Azalea Sphinx

The lower wings of this hawkmoth are a solid brownish-orange, matching the body colour.

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

Darapsa choerilus: Michael van Buskirk, Bexar County, May 2006.
Darapsa choerilus, McGregor, McLennan County, July 10, 2010, Ann Gordon.

Darapsa myron USGS/AG, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx

If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this species nearby. The lower wings are orange.

Darapsa myron, McGregor, McLennan County, September 10, 2010, Ann Gordon.

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

Deidamia inscriptum March, 15, 2008, Bexar Co., Michael van Buskirk.

Hyles lineata USGS, the White-lined Sphinx

This species has strong migrating tendancies from much further south. There are records from New Hampshire and Maine.

Hyles lineata, San Antonio, Bexar County, May 15 2007, Steve Schwartzman

Proserpinus guarae USGS, the Proud Sphinx

The rare and possibly endangered Proud Sphinx flies from Texas and Louisiana east to northern Florida, north to Alabama, Missouri, northern Georgia, and South Carolina. rare

Proserpinus juanita USGS, the Juanita Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale gray-green with a deep green-brown median area and a white dash at the wing tip. rare

Sphecodina abbottii WO, 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. generally more eastern species

Xylophanes tersa USGS/AG, 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.

Xylophanes tersa, McGregor, McLennan County, July 28, 2010, Ann Gordon.

Eumorpha vitis, Austin, Texas, September 19, 2005, courtesy of Melody Lytle.

Amorpha juglandis, female, Austin, Texas, courtesy of Frances Schenkkan via Melody Lytle.

Hyles lineata, San Antonio, Bexar County, May 15, 2007, courtesy of Steve Schwartzman.

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.

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