Created/dedicated as per personal communication with Liz Hoenig, September, 2005
Updated as per personal comunication with David Olson, 2005
Updated for Hemaris thetis, August 2009, replacing H. diffinis; probably H. senta is also H. thetis.
Updated as per personal comunication with Clara Turnbull-Murphy, July 2010
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 2010
Thurston County, Washington
Hyles lineata, September 15, 2005, Thurston County, courtesy of
This page is inspired by and dedicated to Liz Hoenig who sent me the image of the
highly variable Hyles lineata larva at the top of the page.
Liz writes, "Our childcare provider found several unusual
caterpillars on her hardy fuchsia plant - and asked for help from
parents to identify."
Seventeen Sphingidae species are listed for Washington. Not all of
the species are reported or anticipated in Thurston County
in southwestern 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.
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 Thurston 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
This species is possibly present (unreported) and larvae feed on
tomatoes and go by the common name of
Forewings, long and slender, are held close to the body when the moth
is at rest.
I only see them occasionally on P.E.I. despite visiting lights
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
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.
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.
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 ophthalmica moth, David Olson, 10 p.m. Olympia, WA 7/26/05
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.
Smerinthus ophthalmica, Lacey, July 24, 2010, Clara Turnbull-Murphy
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.
the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx
This species is not reported from Thurston County, but if
you have Gallium or Epilobium, you probably have
localized populations of this species.
Hyles lineata larva, September 15, 2005, courtesy of Liz Hoenig
LH, 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.
This day flier, April-June, prefers oak woodland and pine-oak
woodland in foothills. Moths nectar at a
variety of flowers in the afternoon.
the Yellow-banded Day Sphinx
This day flier is not officially reported from Thurston, but it has
been found to the east (still west of the Cascades) and in southwestern
British Columbia in meadows near
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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