Columbia County, Wisconsin

Smerinthus cerisyi by Jean Haxaire (Bill Oehlke pupa, Montague, P.E.I.)

Thirty Sphingidae species are listed in the USGS for Wisconsin. Not all of the species are reported (only three by USGS: Blinded sphinx (Paonias excaecata), Small-eyed sphinx (Paonias myops) and Twin-spotted sphinx (Smerinthus jamaicensis)) or anticipated (twenty-seven by Bill Oehlke) in Columbia County.

This page is dedicated to and inspired by Scott Boutilier who has sent sightings from Columbia County.

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

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

Many thanks to Colleen S. Jokiel who sends the following image from Portage, July 19, 2012.

Pachysphinx modesta female, Portage, Columbia County, Wisconsin,
July 19, 2012, courtesy of Colleen S. Jokiel

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.

Please also send sightings to BAMONA

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata, WO Pink-spotted hawkmoth, stray

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). Might be present as a rare stray.

Ceratomia amyntor WO/SB, 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 amyntor, July 14, 2007, Scott Boutilier

Ceratomia undulosa WO, 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.

Lapara bombycoides WO, the Northern Pine Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is gray with heavy black bands. The upperside of the hindwing is brownish gray with no markings. If you have pines, you probably have this species. It also flies on P.E.I.

Lintneria eremitus SB, the Hermit Sphinx

This species is confirmed for Columbia County by Scott Boutilier. Generally it is not widely reported.

Larval hosts are various species of beebalm (Monarda), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), and sage (Salvia).

Lintneria eremitus, July 14, 2007, Scott Boutilier

Manduca quinquemaculatus WO, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

This large bodied moth flies in tobacco fields and vegetable gardens (potatoes, tomatoes) and wherever host plants are found. possibility

Sphinx canadensis WO, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere, but it has been seen in Sheboygan County.

Larval hosts are white ash (Fraxinus americana) and blueberry (Vaccinium).

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.

Sphinx kalmiae WO, the Laurel Sphinx

The lower forewings are predominantly brownish-yellow with a fairly wide dark bar along the inner margin. At rest the wings hug the body, giving the moth a long slender look.

Sphinx poecila WO, the Poecila Sphinx

If you have blueberries in the woods, then you probably have the Poecila Sphinx.

They are probably widespread throughout Wisconsin, but are very much under reported.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO, 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. See the file for the female; she is different.

Paonias excaecata USGS, the Blinded Sphinx,

The outer margin of the forewing is quite wavy. There is a dark cell spot and a dark oblique line mid wing from the costa almost to the inner margin. Basic ground colour is pinkish brown.

Flight would be June-July.

Paonias myops USGS/SB, the Small-eyed Sphinx

This small species is confirmed by USGS in Columbia County. This species ranges across North America.

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

Paonias myops, May 26, 2007, Scott Boutilier

Pachysphinx modesta WO/SB/CSJ, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx,

This large poplar/willow feeder is found in Columbia County.

They are a heavy bodied species.

Pachysphinx modesta female, May 18, 2007, Scott Boutilier
Pachysphinx modesta female, July 19, 2012, Colleen S. Jokiel

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

The fw outer margin is more irregular than in S. jamaicensis. Larvae feed on poplars and willows. Flight would be from early May-July as a single brood.

Smerinthus cerisyi, May 4-5 Scott Boutilier

Smerinthus jamaicensis USGS/SB, the Twin-spotted Sphinx

Smerinthus jamaicensis closely resembles Smerinthus cerisyi, but jamaicensis is much smaller with larger blue patches on more vibrant and deeper purple in the lower wings.

Smerinthus jamaicenesis, May 26, 2007, Scott Boutilier

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini Tribe:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

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 gracilis WO, The Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing

This day flier is not commonly reported, but it might be present in Columbia County. Generally it is reported more to the east. unlikely

Hemaris thysbe WO, 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.

Philampelini Tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, the Achemon Sphinx

Adults nectar from flowers of Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), petunia (Petunia hybrida), mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius), and phlox (Phlox). Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx.

Eumorpha pandorus WO/SB, 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 where they have not previously been reported.

Eumorpha pandoras, July 14, 2007, Scott Boutilier

Macroglossini Tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, the Nessus Sphinix

This day flier is widely distributed. If you have Virginia Creeper, you might have the Nessus Sphinx.

Two bright, distinct, narrow yellow bands are often visible on the abdomen.

Darapsa choerilus WO, the Azalea Sphinx

They are common in New Jersey and common here on Prince Edward Island.

You will often see this species listed as Darapsa pholus, especially in older literature.

Darapsa myron WO, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx

It is widely reported in southern Michigan and in southern Ontario.

It may be present, although unlikely.

Deidamia inscriptum SB, the Lettered Sphinx. The forewing outer margin of this early spring flier is deeply scalloped. The upperside is light brown with dark brown markings and a small black and white spot near wing tip. The upperside of the hindwing is orange-brown with a dark brown outer margin and median line. Males rest with a strong curve to the abdomen.

Deidamia inscriptum, May 4-5 Scott Boutilier

Hyles gallii WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is not reported in Columbia, but it has been recorded in eastern Wisconsin counties. I suspect it is present.
Some years I see them on P.E.I., some years, I do not.

Hyles lineata WO, the White-lined Sphinx

Adults usually fly at dusk, during the night, and at dawn, but they also fly during the day over a wide variety of open habitats including deserts, suburbs, and gardens.

Sphecodina abbottii WO/SB, the Abbott's Sphinx

This moth is very much under reported on USGS. It is a rapid day flier so is probably not in too many collections.

Grape is a popular larval host.

Sphecodina abbottii female, May 18, 2007, Scott Boutilier

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Scott Boutilier: May 4/5, 2007 Wisconsin, Columbia County. Mercury vapor/black light combination
Smerinthus cerisyi males and females 9:30 -10:30 p.m.
Deidamia inscriptum males and females 3:30-4:00 a.m.