Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, May 2011
Updated as per personal communication with Bill Dempwolf; May 2011

Western Texas
Sphingidae

Lintneria (Sphinx) istar or separatus, Ft. Davis, Texas,
October 1, 2005, courtesy of Mary Brown via Katherine McMahon.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Mary Brown and Katherine McMahon who sent me the pictures of the Lintneria istar or Lintneria separatus larva from Ft. Davis (Jeff Davis County) at the top and bottom of this page.

Katherine writes, October 1, 2005,
"1) Geographical location: Ft. Davis, Texas (West Texas)
"2) accurate description of larva: about 15 centimeters long, 2 centimeters width, fleshy skin, light cream color with black geometric marks and white spots
"3) description of caterpillar's activity: Found on tall dried grass, between two small trees, in a field with cattle near by, about 100 feet from a stream. Early morning on October 1st. Temperature about 90 degrees.
"One of my friends took a picture of it. I can try to get it for you if that would help."

I did not feel confident about my identification from the description, but suggested it might be Eumorpha achemon, based on size proposed, colouration and no mention of horn(s).

I was stumped when the image arrived, so I forwarded it to Jim Tuttle who indicates, "The larva is either a last instar Lintneria (Sphinx) istar or L. separatus. I cannot be sure from the angle of the photo. I will be resurrecting the genus Lintneria to address about 17-18 former members of the genus Sphinx once my book is finally in print."

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 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.

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 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.

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 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.

Lintneria separatus WO, the Separated Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is dark gray with black and light gray wavy lines. The upperside of the hindwing is black with a brownish gray border and two white bands.

Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

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

Manduca rustica USGS, 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 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 asellus WO, the Asella sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is pale silver-gray with a series of black dashes, a white patch at the tip, and a white stripe along the outer margin. The upperside of the hindwing is black with blurry white bands.

Sphinx chersis WO, the Northern Ash Sphinx or Great Ash Sphinx
The upperside of the forewing is soft dark gray to blue-gray with a series of black dashes, one of which reaches the wing tip. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

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/BD, 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. Note complete black mesial stripe on abdomen.

Sphinx libocedrus, Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area, April 24, 2011, Bill Dempwolf.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis FS/ML/ USGS/BD, 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.

Amorpha juglandis, Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area, April 24, 2011, Bill Dempwolf.

Pachysphinx modesta USGS, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx

They are common on Prince Edward Island, and are a very large bodied sphinx.

Pachysphinx occidentalis WO, Big Poplar Sphinx

The lines and bands of P. occidentalis, generally a more western species, are clearly formed, more so than the more diffuse lines and bands of P. modesta generally a more easterly species. There are overlaps of the two ranges in western Texas.

Pachysphinx occidentalis, Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area, April 23, 2011, Bill Dempwolf.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini tribe:

Erinnyis ello USGS, the Ello Sphinx

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

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

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 vitis USGS, 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.

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 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.

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 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


Xylophanes falco Terry Doyle, the Falcon Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is orange-brown along the forward half, striped with dark brown and light brown along the rear half, with dark brown bands separating the two.
The upperside of the hindwing is pale brown with dark brown marginal and submarginal lines.
Terry Doyle sent me an image of a larva from Big Bend National Park, Brewster County.

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.

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

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

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.

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