Wayne County


Hyles lineata larva, late May, 2005, courtesy of Frank Erickson.

This page, inspired by Frank Erickson, should help you identify the Sphingidae in Wayne County, Utah.

Frank writes, "I was surprised to see this caterpillar, as in the badlands of southeastern Utah seeing anything alive is a rarity. However, an uncharacteristically wet winter and spring have given rise to a bloom of a couple of species of wildflowers, and associated with the wildflowers are this and at least one other species of caterpillar."

Twenty-five Sphingidae species are listed in the USGS for Utah. Not all of the species are reported by USGS (only two species: Sphinx vashti and Pachysphinx occidentalis) or anticipated in Wayne County.

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

A WO" after the species name indicates that I have no confirmed reports of this species in Wayne County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is/may be present.

A USGS indicates the moth is reported on the USGS website and/or in Moths of Western North America, #2. Distribution of Sphingidae of Western North America, revised, 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 image, via email to Bill Oehlke.

Sphinx chersis, Sphinx perelegans and Sphinx vashti are quite similar. Note the dark upper thorax with wide black bars extending to the abdomen on the image of Sphinx perelegans. In Sphinx chersis the entire thorax is uniform light blue-grey with very narrow dark lines.

Sphinx vashti lacks the checkered fringe on the hindwings.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata WO

This species has not been reported in Wayne County, but may be there as a stray.

The moth is a very strong flier and is frequently encountered far north of its usual range.

Manduca quinquemaculata WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

This large bodied moth flies in tobacco fields and vegetable gardens (potatoes, tomatoes) and wherever host plants are found. I suspect it is in Wayne County.

Manduca sexta WO, the Carolina Sphinx

This species is not recorded in Wayne County, and would be unlikely. If you grow tomatoes, however, you have may have encountered it.

Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant.

Sphinx asella WO, the Asella Sphinx

This species is not recorded in Wayne County, and would be unlikely.
It flies in pinyon-juniper woodland and similar arid situations in Colorado (specimen type locality) and Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.

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 reaching the wing tip. Note grey thorax with narrow black lines.

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

This species is not reported for Wayne County. I only see them only occasionally on P.E.I. despite visiting lights frequently.

Sphinx dollii WO, the Doll's Sphinx

This species is not reported for Wayne County but may be present.

It flies in arid brushlands and desert foothills.

Sphinx perelegans WO, the Elegant Sphinx

Sphinx perelegans adults fly in montane woodlands and mixed chaparral-type vegetation as a single brood in the north, with adults mainly on the wing in June and July.
It flies from dusk until after midnight. Note dark thorax.

Sphinx vashti USGS, the Snowberry Sphinx,

Snowberry Sphinx adults fly as a single brood in montane woodlands and along prairie streamcourses from April to August, usually further north.
The upperside of the forewing has a narrow black subterminal line bordered by a white inverted V-shaped line on the outside, and a black line at the apex.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx modesta WO, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx,

This large poplar/willow feeder is possibly in Wayne County. They are a heavy bodied species.

Pachysphinx occidentalis USGS, the Big Poplar Sphinx

This one is quite similar to Pachysphinx modesta, with modesta being smaller and darker.

Moths should be on the wing from June-August.

Paonias excaecata WO Doubtful, the Blinded Sphinx

The grey-blue eyespot of the hindwing gives this species its name. Larvae feed on birches, willows, cherries and oaks.

The outer edge of the forewings is quite scalloped.

Paonias myops WO, the Small-eyed Sphinx

This small species is probably probably present as it ranges across North America.

The hindwings have a small blue eyespot ringed with black on a yellow background.

Smerinthus cerisyi USGS, the Cerisyi's Sphinx or One-eyed Sphinx,

Larvae feed on poplars and willows.

Flight would be from late May-July as a single brood.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini Tribe:

Hemaris diffinis WO, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth,

The moth flies along forest edges and in meadows, gardens and brushy fields. Day-flying adults nectar at lantana, dwarf bush honeysuckle, snowberry, orange hawkweed, thistles, lilac, Canada violet, etc.

Hemaris senta WO, the Rocky Mountain Clearwing,

There is probably a single brood of this montane species from May-August.

The moth is seen along streamsides and in meadows in mountainous areas.

Philampelini Tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx

This moth is not recorded for Wayne County, but it may be present wherever grapes are found.

Fight would be from June to August. Larvae feed on grape foliage.

Macroglossini Tribe:

Euproserpinus wiesti WO Doubtful, Wiest's Primrose Sphinx

Euproserpinus wiesti adults fly, during the day, over sand washes and prairie blow-outs as a single brood from May-June.

Hyles lineata FE, the White-lined Sphinx

Adults usually fly at dusk, during the night, at dawn, and during the day. Moths nectar at salvia and oviposit on a number of different plants. It is confirmed for Wayne County by Frank Erickson.

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