Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 2008
Updated as per personal communication with Ian Miller (Hyles euphorbiae, June 4, 2009, Eau Claire); June 2009; February 18, 2013; ongoing
Updated as per personal communication with Michael Koski (Ceratomia undulosa, July 19, 2015, Eau Claire)

Eau Claire County, Wisconsin

Manduca quinquemaculatus on tomato, courtesy of Jonathon Tubbs

Thirty Sphingidae species are listed in the USGS for Wisconsin. Not all of the species are reported (none by USGS; three by Lep. Soc. Season Summary) or anticipated (twenty-seven by Bill Oehlke) in Eau Claire County.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Tracy Henn who found (with her son) a Manduca quinquemaculatus larva feeding on tomato plants in her garden.

Tracy provided an excellent description:

"The caterpillar itself is about the same green as the tomato foliage and about three inches long. It looks to be about as big around as my pinky finger (approx 1/2 in diameter). It looks to have about eight segments after the head with a sort of black/brown barb on the "tail". On each of those segments, it has a sideways v shape or check mark pointing toward the head of the caterpillar. In the point of each "v" it has what looks like a little "eye" of bright yellow-orange surrounded by black or brown or blue."

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 Eau Claire 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.

Many thanks to Ian Miller who has provided sighting data for many species in Eau Claire County.

Ian writes, "Four-horned sphinx larva bit the webbing of my finger while I tried to move him to another birch cutting and drew blood. He has some big old jaws on him and very powerful. Won't be picking him up for a while."

Also at MV lights I had: 2 male abbotts, 2 lettered sphinx, 2 cerisyi , 2 jamaicensis, one modesta and a white lined sphinx all males!

Many thanks to Michael Koski who provides the following image of a Waved Sphinx.

Ceratomia undulosa, Eau Claire, Wisconsin,
July 19, 2015, courtesy of Michael Koski

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Ceratomia amyntor WO/IM, 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. Elm (Ulmus), birch (Betula), basswood (Tilia), and cherry (Prunus).

Ceratomia amyntor larva, August 22, 2008, on birch, Ian Miller
Ceratomia amyntor adult, June 4, June-July, 2012, Ian Miller

Ceratomia undulosa WO/IM, 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.

Ceratomia undulosa, May 24, 2011, courtesy of Ian Miller.
Ceratomia undulosa, June 4, 2012, June-July 2012, Ian Miller
Ceratomia undulosa, July 19, 2015, Michael Koski

Dolba hyloeus LSSS/IM, the Pawpaw Sphinx
The upperside of the forewing is dark brown with a dusting of white scales. Some moths have patches of reddish or yellowish brown on the wings.
Larve are not limited to pawpaw.

Dolba hyloeus, July 23, 2012, Ian Miller

Lapara bombycoides WO/IM, Northern Pine Sphinx: This species is now officially reported from Eau Claire. If you have pines, you probably have this species. It also flies on P.E.I.

Lapara bombycoides, May 4, 2012, Ian Miller

Lintneria eremitus WO/IM, the Hermit Sphinx

Generally this species is not widely reported.

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

Linteria eremitus, August 27-September, Ian Miller

Manduca quinquemaculatus Tracy Henn/Ian Miller, the Five-spotted Hawkmoth

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

Manduca quinquemaculatus, August 16, 2009, Ian Miller
Manduca quinquemaculatus, June 4-September, 2012, Ian Miller

Manduca sexta IM, the Carolina Sphinx: This species is now recorded in Eau Claire County by Ian Miller. If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it, though. Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant. surprise, mostly in southern Wisconsin

Manduca sexta, July 29, 2011, 10:15pm, Ian Miller

Sphinx canadensis WO, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere, but it might be present in Eau Claire County.

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

Sphinx chersis WO/IM, 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 chersis, August 27-September, Ian Miller

Sphinx drupiferarum WO/IM, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

Forewings, long and slender, are held close to the body when the moth is at rest. Larvae are beautiful and feed on cherry foliage.

Sphinx drupiferarum male, June 5, 2009, 11:45, Ian Miller
Sphinx drupiferarum male, May 21-June, 2012, Ian Miller

Sphinx gordius WO/IM, the Apple Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing ranges from brown with black borders through brownish gray with paler borders to pale gray with no borders. Dashes, submarginal line, and cell spot are usually weak.

sphinx gordius/poecila, June 16, 2012, Ian Miller

Sphinx kalmiae WO/IM, 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 kalmiae, June 6, 2011, July 29-30, 2011, Ian Miller
Sphinx kalmiae, June 4-July, 2012, Ian Miller

Sphinx luscitiosa WO, the Canadian Sphinx or Clemen's Sphinx: The fw upperside is yellowish gray in males and pale gray with faint yellow tint in females (left). The dark border on the outer margin widens as it approaches inner margin. Hw upperside is deep yellow in males, pale yellow in females with wide black border.

Sphinx poecila WO/IM, 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.

sphinx gordius/poecila, June 16, 2012, Ian Miller

Sphinx vashti WO, Snowberry Sphinx: Snowberry Sphinx adults fly as a single brood in montane woodlands and along prairie streamcourses from April to August. 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:

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.

Pachysphinx modesta WO/IM, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx,

This large poplar/willow feeder is now reported in Eau Claire County, courtesy of Ian Miller.

They are a heavy bodied species.

Pachysphinx modesta, July 17-18, 2008, Ian Miller
Pachysphinx modesta female, June 6, 2009, 10:45, Ian Miller
Pachysphinx modesta male, May 11 - August, 2012, Ian Miller

Paonias excaecata WO/IM, 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 excaecata, July 18, 2008, July 28, 2011, June 4, 2012, Ian Miller

Paonias myops WO/IM, the Small-eyed Sphinx

This small species is now confirmed in Eau Claire County. This species ranges across North America.

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

Paonias myops, July 17-18, 2008, June 18, 2009, July 28, 30, 2011, Ian Miller
Paonias myops female (reared), May 24, 28, 2011, courtesy of Ian Miller.
Paonias myops, May 11-June, 2012, mid July-early August, 2012, courtesy of Ian Miller.

Smerinthus cerisyi WO/IM, 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.

Smerinthus cerisyi male, April 26, 2012 (very early); May 4, 8, 15 - June, 2012; May 22, 26, 2014, Ian Miller

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO/IM, 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 jamaicensis, July 17, 2008, Ian Miller
Smerinthus jamaicensis, June 9, 2009, Ian Miller
Smerinthus jamaicensis, May 3, 2010, very early in season, Ian Miller
Smerinthus jamaicensis, May 19, 28, 2011, July 30, 2011, Ian Miller
Smerinthus jamaicensis, April 23, - June, 2012, Ian Miller

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini Tribe:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris diffinis WO/IM, 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 diffinis larvae, August 28, 2008, Ian Miller
Hemaris diffinis, April 23 - August; 2012; May 23, 2014; Ian Miller

Hemaris gracilis LSSS, The Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing

This day flier is not commonly reported, but it is confirmed in the Lep. Soc. Season Summary.

Hemaris thysbe WO/IM, 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.

Hemaris thysbe, late August, 2008, Ian Miller
Hemaris thysbe, June 4, 2009, Ian Miller
Hemaris thysbe, August 11, 2012, Ian Miller

Philampelini Tribe:

Eumorpha achemonWO/IM, the Achemon Sphinx

This moth is now confirmed for Eau Claire, by Ian Miller.

Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx.

Eumorpha achemon, July 28-29-30, 2011, Ian Miller
"From July 25-August 8 I collected 11 male achemon sphinxes at light set ups in Eau Claire County." IM
Eumorpha achemon, July 25 - August, 2012, Ian Miller

Eumorpha pandorus IM, the Pandorus Sphinx

If you have Grape or Virginia Creeper nearby, then you might have this species. I often get asked to identify larvae from areas where they have not previously been reported.

Eumorpha pandorus: Ian Miller sent me an image of a larva he encountered while trout fishing.
Eumorpha pandorus, many eggs and first instar larvae found,
late July - early August, 2009, now mature larvae, Ian Miller
Eumorpha pandorus, July 28 male; July 29 female 11:45, male 10:45; Ian Miller
Eumorpha pandorus, June 16 - early August, 2012, Ian Miller

Macroglossini Tribe:

Amphion floridensis WO/IM, 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.

Amphion floridensis, June 2, Ian Miller
Amphion floridensis, April 23- mid June, 2012, Ian Miller

Darapsa choerilus WO/IM, the Azalea Sphinx: The lower wings of this hawkmoth are a solid brownish-orange, matching the body colour.

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

Darapsa choerilus, May 21 -early August, 2012, Ian Miller.

Darapsa myron WO/IM, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx: The forewing upperside is dark brown to pale yellowish gray, with an olive tint. On the costal margin there is a dark rectangular patch, although this may be reduced or absent. The upperside of the hindwing is pale orange.

Darapsa myron, July 5, 2008, courtesy of Ian Miller.
Darapsa myron, May 4 - early June; mid July-August, Ian Miller

Deidamia inscriptum LSSS/IM, the Lettered Sphinx: The moth's outer margin of the forewing is deeply scalloped. The upperside is light brown with dark brown markings. There is a small black and white spot near the tip. The upperside of the hindwing is orange-brown with a dark brown outer margin and median line.

Deidamia inscriptum, June 4, June 9, 2009, Ian Miller
Deidama inscriptum), May 1, May 3 (4 of them), 2010, Ian Miller
Deidamia inscriptum, May 19, 2011, Ian Miller
Deidamia inscriptum in copula, May 21, 2011, Ian Miller

Deidamia inscriptum, March 27, 2012 (very early); May 15, 2012; May 23, 2014; Ian Miller

Hyles euphorbiae IM, the Spurge Hawk Moth: The body is light brown with various white and dark brown markings, while the wings have a conspicuous tan, brown, and pink or red color pattern. Ian Miller, June 3, 2009.

Hyles euphorbiae, 10:00 pm to lights, June 3, 2009, Ian Miller.
Hyles euphorbiae two males, 10:45 pm to lights, June 9, 2009, Ian Miller.
Hyles euphorbiae male, June 18, 2009, July 29, 2011, 12:00, female; June 7, 2012, Ian Miller.

Hyles gallii WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx: This species is not officialy reported in Eau Claire, 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/IM, 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.

Hyles lineata first instar larva and egg found on evening primrose, August 16, 2009, Ian Miller.
Hyles lineata male, July 28, 2011; May 15, 2012; Ian Miller
Hyles lineata male, June 4, August, mid September, 2012; Ian Miller
Hyles lineata female, May 26, 2014; Ian Miller

Sphecodina abbottii WO/IM, 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, June 4, 2008, Ian Miller
Sphecodina abbottii, June 2, 2009, Ian Miller

Sphecodina abbottii, at bait trap, May 30, 2011, May 15, 2012, Ian Miller
Sphecodina abbottii, May 11 - mid June, 2012, Ian Miller
Sphecodina abbottii, May 25, 2014, Ian Miller

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