Southern Texas
Sphingidae

Manduca rustica, Corpus Christi, Texas, June 13, 2007, courtesy of Dixie Lee Oshman.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Dixie Lee Oshman who sent me the picture of the Manduca rustica moth from Corpus Christi (Nueces County).

Seventy-five Sphingidae species are listed for Texas on the U.S.G.S. website. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in the southern 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.

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 USGS, 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.

Ceratomia hageni USGS, 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.

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.

Dolba hyloeus USGS, 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.

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.

Lapara coniferarum USGS, 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. rare -- eastern species

Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

I suspect if you grow tomatoes, you are likely to encounter Manduca quinquemaculata.

Manduca rustica USGS/TB, 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, Laguna Madre, Flour Bluff, Corpus Christi, August 13, 2013, Tim Belde.

Manduca sexta USGS, 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.

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.

Sphinx gemina 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. rare

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis USGS, 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. Patterns range from faint to pronounced. See the file for the female; she is different.

Pachysphinx modesta USGS, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

They are common on Prince Edward Island, and are

Paonias excaecata USGS, 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.

Paonias myops USGS, the 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, 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. rare

Aellopos titan JD/BF, 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. There is also a black dot end of the cell. rare

Aellopos titan, Port O'Connor, Calhoun County, August 8, 2008, Brush Freeman.

Enyo lugubris, the Mournful Sphinx, WO stray: 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.

Erinnyis ello USGS, the Ello Sphinx
This species is sporadically reported in southern Texas counties.

Males and females differ.

Erinnyis lassauxi USGS, the Dominican Sphinx

This moth flies in Haiti and Jamaica south to Paraguay and Bolivia with occasional sightings in Texas and Arizona.

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 USGS, 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.

Hemaris diffinis USGS, 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 tends to be dark (black) with 1-2 yellow segments before tip.

Pachylia ficus, the Fig Sphinx, USGS: Fw upperside: orangish brown with paler patch along costa at tip.
Hw uperside: orange to orangish brown with black outer border, black median band, and white spot on outer margin near 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 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 pandorus USGS/JM, 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.

Eumorpha pandorus, near Ingleside, 30 miles north of Corpus Christi, Jack Millen, April 18, 2011

Eumorpha vitis USGS/RS, 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.

Eumorpha vitis, Laredo, Webb Co., Texas, courtesy of Ricardo Santos, May 15, 2008

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis USGS, 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.

Darapsa choerilus USGS, 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 myron USGS, 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 versicolor USGS, the Hydrangea Sphinx

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

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

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.

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 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 is a popular larval host.

Xylophanes tersa USGS, 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, 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.

Aellopos titan Port O'Connnor, Calhoun County, Texas,
August 8, 2008, courtesy of Brush Freeman.

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.

Eggs of many North American species are offered during the spring and summer. Occasionally summer Actias luna and summer Antheraea polyphemus cocoons are available. Shipping to US destinations is done from with in the US.

Use your browser "Back" button to return to the previous page.

This page is brought to you by Bill Oehlke and the WLSS. Pages are on space rented from Bizland. If you would like to become a "Patron of the Sphingidae Site", contact Bill.

Please send sightings/images to Bill. I will do my best to respond to requests for identification help.


Show appreciation for this site by clicking on flashing butterfly to the left.
The link will take you to a page with links to many insect sites.

This website has been created and is maintained by Bill Oehlke without government or institutional financial assistance. All expenses, ie., text reference support material, webspace rental from Bizland, computer repairs/replacements, backups systems, software for image adjustments (Adobe Photoshop; L-View), ftp software, anti-virus protection, scanner, etc. are my own.

I very much appreciate all the many images that have been sent to me, or of which I have been granted permission to copy and post from other websites. All images on this site remain the property of respective photographers.

If you would like to contribute to the maintenace of this website by sending a contribution to

Bill Oehlke
Box 476
155 Peardon Road
Montague, Prince Edward Island, C0A1R0
Canada

your donation would be much appreciated and would be used for
1) paying for webspace rental;
2) paying for computer maintenance and software upgrades;
3) purchases of additional text reference material (journals and books) in anticipation of expanding the site to a worldwide Sphingidae site;
4) helping to pay my daughter's tuition; with anything left over going to humanitarian aid.

If you are mailing a check from USA, please use $0.85 postage. Donations can also be made through Paypal via the button below.