Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 24, 2010
Updated as per Butterflies and Moths of North America website, formerly USGS; July 24, 2010

Snohomish County

Sphingidae

Seventeen Sphingidae species are listed for Washington. Not all of the species are reported or anticipated in Snohomish County in northern Washington. It is hoped that this checklist, with the thumbnails and notes, will help you quickly identify the moths you have encountered.

The Cascades seem to be a barrier to some of the more eastern species.

A "USGS" indicates the moth is reported in USGS 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.

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

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.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

This species is possibly present (unreported) and larvae feed on tomatoes and go by the common name of "Tomato Hornworms".

Sphinx drupiferarum WO, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

There is a broad greyish-white forewing costal area. Most of the rest of the forewing is a dark slate grey with some thin black streaks. There are some white areas near the outer margin.

Sphinx perelegans WO, the Elegant Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is dark grey to black with a paler costa and pale area from the base to the wing's centre.
Prefered habitats include montane woodlands and mixed chaparral-type vegetation.

Sphinx vashti WO, the Snowberry Sphinx

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 running inwards from the apex of the wing.
It is most often found in montane woodlands and along streamcourses.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Pachysphinx occidentalis WO, the Big Poplar Sphinx. This one is quite similar to Pachysphinx modesta, with modesta being smaller and darker.

If you've got willows or poplars nearby, then you probably have occidentalis in your immediate area. generally more southerly in Washington

Paonias excaecata USGS, the Blinded Sphinx

The grey-blue eyespot (without a black center pupil) 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.

Smerinthus opthalmica MPNw

Larvae feed on poplars, aspen and willows. Note different shape of double arced forewing pm line compared to the straighter pm line of cerisyi, which it replaces in WA. S. ophthalmica has smoother scalloping of the fw outer margin.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

Hemaris thetis WO, the Thetis Clearwing

Hemaris thetis is a very variable species, but almost always the abdomen sports contrasting black and yellow hairs, the ventral surface being quite black. The legs also tend to be quite dark and there is a black mask running across the eye and along the sides of the thorax.

Hemaris thysbe WO, the Hummingbird Clearwing,

Many gardeners mistake this moth for a small hummingbird as it hovers, sipping nectar from flowers through a long feeding tube. Flight is probably from late May-July and possibly again in the fall. possibility

Macroglossini tribe:

Hyles gallii WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

There is a broad, irregular, creamy-white band running diagonally across the dull brown forewing. There is a grey area along the fw outer margin.

Hyles lineata WO, the White-lined Sphinx

This species is very widespread. It can be seen flying during the day, into the evening and also at night.
The highly variable larvae are often found in people's gardens.

Proserpinus clarkiae USGS, Clark's Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is greenish gray; the median area may be dark or pale. The upperside of the hindwing is bright orangish yellow with black borders. This day flier, April-June, prefers oak woodland and pine-oak woodland in foothills. Moths nectar at a variety of flowers in the afternoon.

Proserpinus flavofasciata WO, the Yellow-banded Day Sphinx Fw upperside is medium to dark brown with a faint to distinct white median band. Hw upperside is dark brown with a wide orange median band which may not reach the inner margin. The moth mimics a bumblebee.

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


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