Southeastern Texas

Xylophanes tersa, Houston, Texas, September 15, 2005, courtesy of Greg Andrews.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Gil and Larry Nelson who sent me a picture of a Eumorpha pandorus moth from Houston (Harris County) and by and to Greg Andrews who sent me the images of Xylophanes tersa larvae at the top and bottom of this page.

Jeanne Davison, Lake Conroe, Willis, (Montgomery County) Texas, sent me the image of Aellopos titan at the bottom of the page, 7/30/06.

Greg writes, September 15, 2005, "I found your page for the Tersa Sphinx and need to see if this is the same thing. I found about a dozen of these in one of my Penta plants today.

"From the two pictures I sent, I had some dark ones and some super bright green ones. All in all, I've found sixteen so far, including one baby one. The are about two inches long and a little over 1/8 inch in diameter.

"All of them created a burrow [in some soil]. Some of them interestingly enough actually made a lean-to hut with 3 leaves and a part of a paper towel (that we use to provide moisture to the container). The burrows all have a full leaf pulled over them and are secured in place with a thin, tacky webbing."

Karl Kaylor writes, "Xylophane tersa larvae, found on August 22, 2006. Location: In my front yard, eating my pentas. Very southern part of Tomball, Texas in NW Harris county. Zipcode 77377. Saw a total of 7, most were quite fat, but one was still young/skinny."

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 southeastern region. It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you are likely to encounter.

Linda Williams sends this beautiful image of a freshly emerged Amorpha juglandis, from Port Neches, Jefferson County.

Amorpha juglandis, Port Neches, Jefferson County, Texas,
May 9, 2009, courtesy of Linda Williams.

A "USGS" indicates the moth is reported on the USGS website (now BAMONA) 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 Kellie Birch who provides a beautiful image of Eumorpha fasciatus.

Eumorpha fasciatus, Pasadena, Harris County, Texas,
September 7, 2013, courtesy of Kellie Birch.

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

Ashley Tarleton sends the following image from Houston Texas.

Amorpha juglandis in copula, Houston, Texas,
July 1, 2014, courtesy of Ashley Tarleton.

Enyo lugubris nectaring at Sarracenia alata, October 17, 2008, 50m,
Sabine National Forest, Jasper County, Texas, courtesy of Wolfgang Stuppy.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, USGS/SM Pink-spotted hawkmoth: Strong migrant, nectars from deep-throated flowers including moonflower (Calonyction aculeatum), morning glory (Convolvulus), honey suckle (Lonicera), petunia.

Agrius cingulata wing found, Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, Liberty County, September 12, 2013, Stuart Marcus

Ceratomia amyntor USGS/SM, Elm Sphinx, Four-horned Sphinx: Brown with dark brown, white markings including white costal area near wing base, dark streaks along veins, white cell spot. Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), cherry (Prunus).

Ceratomia amyntor, Liberty, Liberty County, July 19, 2013, Stuart Marcus

Ceratomia catalpae USGS, Catalpa Sphinx: Yellowish brown with no white markings, indistinct black lines, dashes. Cell spot: gray with black outline. Larvae feed in large groups, much more spectacular than the moths. Catalpa.

Ceratomia hageni USGS, Hagen's Sphinx, Osage Orange Sphinx: Gray with green tint, dark indistinct wavy lines, pale gray patches at wing tip and along costa.

Ceratomia undulosa USGS, Waved Sphinx: Pale brownish gray with wavy black.white lines and black-outlined white cell spot. Hw: gray with diffuse darker bands.

Dolba hyloeus USGS, Pawpaw Sphinx: Dark brown with dusting of white scales. Some moths have patches of reddish or yellowish brown on wings.

Isoparce cupressi USGS, Cypres, Baldcypress Sphinx: Flies in Cypress swamps in Georgia (specimen type locality), from Maryland to Texas. It has been reported in Mexico.

Lapara coniferarum USGS, Southern Pine Sphinx: Gray with two (sometimes one or three) black dashes near wing center; other markings usually diffuse. Hw: uniform brown-gray. rare -- eastern species

Lintneria gemina USGS, Gemmed Sphinx Moth: Gray with wavy black and light gray bands and two small gray spots near center of costa. rare

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

Manduca quinquemaculatus, Trinity River Refuge, Liberty, April 17, 2013, Stuart Marcus

Manduca rustica USGS/GR, Rustic Sphinx: Three large yellow spots on each side of abdomen. Fw: yellowish brown to deep chocolate brown with dusting of white scales and zigzagged black and white lines.

Manduca rustica, near Brazoria, May 19, 2014; Ginny Raska

Manduca sexta USGS, Carolina Sphinx: If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered Manduca sexta in the larval stage. Can strip a tomato plant.

Paratrea plebeja USGS, Plebeian Sphinx: Gray with indistinct black and white markings. Series of black dashes from the base to tip, and small white cell spot.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis USGS/AT, Walnut Sphinx: Highly variable; sometimes wings may be all one color or may have several colors, ranging from pale to dark brown, may have white or pink tinge. Patterns range from faint to pronounced. Female is different.

Amorpha juglandis in copula, Houston, July 1, 2014, courtesy of Ashley Tarleton

Pachysphinx modesta USGS, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

They are common on Prince Edward Island, and are

Paonias excaecata USGS, Blinded Sphinx: Named for dull grey-blue spot (minus dark pupil) in hindwing. Wide distribution in eastern United States. I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island; reported as far south as Florida.

Paonias myops USGS, Small-eyed Sphinx: Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is probably found in many southeastern Texas counties. 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.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos fadus USGS, Fadus Sphinx: Body: brown with wide white band across abdomen. Wings dark brown; fw: two bands of pale spots, lacks black spot (typical of clavipes) at end of cell. rare

Aellopos titan JD, Titan Sphinx: Body: dark brown with wide white stripe across abdomen. Wings: dark brown. Very similar to above species, but hw upperside has pale patches along costa and inner margin. Black dot end of cell. rare

Enyo lugubris, Mournful Sphinx, WO stray/WS: Body, wings dark brown. Fw: large black patch covering most of outer half of wing. Pale tan cell spot (dark inner pupil), and fairly straight median line to inside of cell spot.

Enyo lugubris nectaring at Sarracenia alata, October 17, 2008, 50m,
Sabine National Forest, Jasper County, Texas, courtesy of Wolfgang Stuppy.

Erinnyis ello USGS, Ello Sphinx: This species is sporadically reported in southern Texas counties.
Males and females differ.

Erinnyis lassauxi USGS, Dominican Sphinx: This moth flies in Haiti and Jamaica south to Paraguay and Bolivia with occasional sightings in Texas and Arizona.

eobscobs.htm>Erinnyis obscura, Obscure Sphinx, USGS: Adults, at night, nectar at flowers, including bouncing bet (Saponaria officinalis), Asystasia gangetica beginning at dusk. July,August flight times in southern states. rare

See bshthysbe.htm>Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next two species.

Hemaris thysbe USGS, Hummingbird Clearwing: Easy to see why many gardeners would mistake an Hemaris thysbe moth for small hummingbird as it hovers, sipping nectar from flowers through long feeding tube.

Hemaris diffinis USGS, Snowberry Clearwing: 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.

Pachylia ficus, Fig Sphinx, USGS: Orangish brown with paler patch along costa at tip. Hw: orange to orangish brown with black outer border, black median band, white spot on outer margin near body.

Philampelini tribe:

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

Eumorpha fasciatus USGS/KB, Banded Sphinx: Dark pinkish brown. Fw: lighter brown band along costa, sharp pinkish white bands and streaks. Primrose-willow, Ludwigia (water primrose), other plants in evening primrose family.

Eumorpha fasciatus, Spring, Harris County, August 16, 2012, courtesy of Sara.
Eumorpha fasciatus, Pasadena, Harris County, September 7, 2013, Kellie Birch.

Eumorpha pandorus USGS/KLW/JG, 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.

Eumorpha pandorus, Pearland, September 9, 2011, Kenny and Lisa West, via Linda Benskin
Eumorpha pandorus (worn), Huntington, Angelina County, July 30, 2014, Jay Garth

Eumorpha vitis USGS/MW, Vine Sphinx: Dark pinkish brown. Each forewing has lighter brown band along costa, sharp pinkish white bands and streaks. Hw: pink patch on inner margin.

Eumorpha vitis, Austin, June 30, 2010, Michelle Walden

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis USGS, Nessus Sphinix: Widely distributed day-flyer. If you have Virginia Creeper, you probably have the Nessus Sphinx. Two bright, distinct, narrow yellow bands are often visible on abdomen.

Amphion floridensis, Houston, Harris County, 8:00pm, June 11, 2010, Natalie Valdez

Darapsa choerilus USGS, Azalea Sphinx: Hw: solid brownish-orange, matching the body colour. You will often see this species listed as Darapsa pholus, especially in older literature.

Darapsa myron USGS, Virginia Creeper Sphinx, Grapevine Sphinx: If you have foodplants indicated in common names, you probably have this species. Hws: orange.

Darapsa versicolor USGS, Hydrangea Sphinx: If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you might have the Hydrangea Sphinx. rare

Deidamia inscriptum USGS, Lettered Sphinx: Fw outer margin deeply scalloped. Light brown with dark brown markings. Small black and white spot near tip. Grape (Vitis), ampelopsis (Ampelopsis), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus).

Hyles lineata USGS, White-lined Sphinx: This species has strong migrating tendancies from much further south. There are records from New Hampshire and Maine.

Proserpinus guarae USGS, Proud Sphinx: Rare, possibly endangered; Flies from Texas, Louisiana east to northern Florida, north to Alabama, Missouri, northern Georgia, South Carolina. rare

Proserpinus juanita USGS, Juanita Sphinx: Pale gray-green with deep green-brown median area and white dash at wing tip. rare

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.

Xylophanes tersa USGS, Tersa Sphinx: Pale brown with lavender-gray at base and has dark brown lengthwise lines throughout. Hw: dark brown with band of whitish, wedge-shaped marks.

Xylophanes tersa, Pasadena, Harris County, August 12, 2008, Kathleen Shaw.
Xylophanes tersa, Kingwood, Montgomery County, October 5, 2009, Christine Randall.

Xylophanes tersa, Houston, Texas, September 15, 2005, courtesy of Greg Andrews.

Aellopos titan nectaring at Pentas, Lake Conroe, Willis, (Montgomery County) Texas,
July 30, 2006, courtesy of Jeanne Davison.

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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