Door County, Wisconsin
Sphingidae

David Link sends the following image of two S. eremitus nectaring at dusk from Asclepias syriaca (milkweed) blossoms in his yard in Door County, Wisconsin, July 17, 2007.

Sphinx eremitus, courtesy of David Link.

Thirty Sphingidae species are listed in the USGS for Wisconsin. Not all of the species are reported (nine by USGS as of July 2007) or anticipated (twenty-seven by Bill Oehlke) in Door County.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Joan F. Rickert who lives due west of Door County in Taylor County, Wisconsin. Joan sent me sighting data for Sphinx chersis and also sent the larval images of Ceratomia undulosa, as well as other sightings indicated by JFR.

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 Door County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is 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.

A very special thanks to the late Janice Stiefel (JS) whose work providesconfirmations of fifteen species from Door County. Janice also included Sphinx gordius. She may be correct, but based on her image and the description put forward in James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, I believe she has actually photographed another specimen of Sphinx poecila, which at one time was considered a subspecies of S. gordius.

Many thanks also to Tim Borski who sends the following image of Sphinx luscitiosa.

Sphinx luscitiosa female, Door County, Wisconsin,
6:05pm, July 3, 2012, courtesy of Tim Borski.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Ceratomia amyntor WO, Elm Sphinx, Four-horned Sphinx: 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. Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), cherry (Prunus).

Ceratomia undulosa USGS, Waved Sphinx: Pale brownish gray (occasionally quite dark) with wavy black and white lines and black-outlined white cell spot. Hw: gray with diffuse darker bands.

Lapara bombycoides WO, 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. Larvae feed on pines.

Lintneria eremitus USGS/DL/JS, Hermit Sphinx: Larval hosts are various species of beebalm (Monarda), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), and sage (Salvia).

Sphinx eremitus adults nectaring at dusk on milkweed July 17, 2007, courtesy of David Link.
Lintneria eremitus, Gibraltar, larva and pupa: October 10, 2003, December 5, 2003; adult moth: June 23, 2004, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Manduca quinquemaculatus USGS/JS, Five-spotted Hawkmoth: Flies in tobacco fields, vegetable gardens (potatoes, tomatoes), wherever host plants are found.

Manduca quinquemaculatus, Bailey's Harbor, July 30, 1999, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Sphinx canadensis USGS/JS, Canadian Sphinx: Uncommon, not often reported anywhere. Larval hosts are white ash (Fraxinus americana) and blueberry (Vaccinium).

Sphinx canadensis, Bailey's Harbor, July 16, 2001, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Sphinx chersis WO/JS, Northern Ash Sphinx, Great Ash Sphinx: Soft dark gray to blue-gray with series of black dashes, one of which reaches wing tip.

Sphinx chersis larva and adult moth, Gibraltar, August 5, 2002, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Sphinx drupiferarum JS, Wild Cherry Sphinx: Probably flies in May/June and August. We have them on P.E.I., but I do not see them nearly as frequently as I see the other Sphingidae.

Sphinx drupiferarum, Gibraltar, May 20, 2003, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Sphinx kalmiae USGS/JS, Laurel Sphinx: Predominantly brownish-yellow with fairly wide dark bar along inner margin. At rest wings hug body, giving moth long slender look.

Sphinx kalmiae, Bailey's Harbor, July 16, 2003, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Sphinx luscitiosa WO/TB, Canadian Sphinx: Clemen's Sphinx: Yellowish gray in males; pale gray with faint yellow tint in females. Dark border on the outer margin widens as it approaches the inner margin.

Sphinx luscitiosa male, 6:05pm, July 3, 2012, courtesy of Tim Borski.

Sphinx poecila WO/JS, Poecila Sphinx: If you have blueberries in the woods, then you probably have Poecila Sphinx. They are probably widespread throughout Wisconsin, but are very much under reported.

Sphinx poecila, Bailey's Harbor, June 13, 2003, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis USGS, Walnut Sphinx: Highly variable; sometimes wings may be all one color or may have several colors, ranging from pale to dark brown, may have white or pink tinge. Female is different.

Paonias excaecata USGS, Blinded Sphinx: Fw outer margin quite wavy. Dark cell spot and dark oblique line mid wing from costa almost to the inner margin. Basic ground colour is pinkish brown. Flight would be June-July.

Paonias myops WO/JS, Small-eyed Sphinx: This species ranges across North America. The hindwings have a small blue eyespot ringed with black on a yellow background.

Paonias myops Bailey's Harbor, August 6, 2004, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Pachysphinx modesta USGS, Modest Sphinx, Poplar Sphinx: This large poplar/willow feeder is reported in Door County.

They are a heavy bodied species.

Smerinthus cerisyi USGS/JS, Cerisyi's Sphinx, One-eyed Sphinx. Poplars, willows. Flight would be from late May-July as a single brood.

Smerinthus cerisyi, Bailey's Harbor, June 6, 2001, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO/JFR/JS, Twin-spotted Sphinx: Along the East Coast, it flies from P.E.I. to Florida.

Smerinthus jamaicensis, Bailey's Harbor, May 23, 2003, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini Tribe:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris diffinis WO, Snowberry Clearwing: Flies along forest edges, meadows, gardens, brushy fields. Day-flying adults nectar at lantana, dwarf bush honeysuckle, snowberry, orange hawkweed, thistles, lilac, Canada violet, etc.

Hemaris gracilis WO, Slender Clearwing, Graceful Clearwing: This day flier is not commonly reported, but it might be present in Door County. unlikely

Hemaris thysbe WO/JS, Hummingbird Clearwing: They are widely distributed in the east from P.E.I. to Florida.

Hemaris thysbe, July 2002 larva to May 2003 moth, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Philampelini Tribe:

Eumorpha achemon WO, Achemon Sphinx: This moth is not reported for Door, but it may be present. Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx.

Eumorpha labruscae JS, Gaudy Sphinx: Although primarily a tropical species, it has been taken as far north as Saskatchewan as a stray. Forewings are a vibrant grey-green. Rare fall stray to Wisconsin

Eumorpha labruscae, Newport State Park, October 2, 2007, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Eumorpha pandorus WO, 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.

Macroglossini Tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO, 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 choerilus WO/JS, 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 choerilus, Bailey's Harbor, July 2, 2003, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Darapsa myron WO/JS, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx
This moth is not recorded on the U.S.G.S. site for Door County, but Janice Stiefel confirms its presence there via a found larva that overwintered in pupal stage and emerged the following spring. It is widely reported in southern Michigan and in southern Ontario.

Darapsa myron, Bailey's Harbor, May 18, 2003, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Deidamia inscriptum WO, the Lettered Sphinx

This species has not been recorded in Door.

It is seen in southern Ontario, however, and in central and southern Wisconsin.

Hyles gallii WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is not reported in Door, but it has been recorded in other 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/JS, 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, Gibraltarr, July, 21, 2002, larva, subsequent moth on April 25, 2003, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.

Sphinx eremitus, courtesy of David Link.

Sphinx eremitus, courtesy of David Link.

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This page is brought to you by Bill Oehlke and the WLSS. Pages are on space rented from Bizland. If you would like to become a "Patron of the Sphingidae Site", contact Bill.

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

Enjoy some of nature's wonderments: Saturniidae cocoons. Cocoons of these giant silkmoths are for sale in fall and winter. Large, beautiful moths emerge in the spring and summer.


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