Inspired/dedicated as per personal communication with Tammy M. Smith, Reedsburg, October 9, 2010
Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, October 9, 2010
Updated as per Butterflies and Moths of North America website, formerly USGS, October 9, 2010

Sauk County, Wisconsin
Sphingidae

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 one by USGS: Northern Pine Sphinx (Lapara bombycoides) or anticipated (thirty-five by Bill Oehlke) in Sauk County.

This page is dedicated to and inspired by Tammy M. Smith of Sauk County. Tammy has an abiding interest in butterflies and moths.

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 Sauk County, but I (William Oehlke) expect that this moth is present 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:

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, 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 catalpae WO, the Catalpa Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is yellowish brown with no white markings, but there are indistinct black lines and dashes. The cell spot is gray with a black outline. The larvae feed in large groups and are much more spectacular than the moths.
Catalpa is the larval host.

Ceratomia hageni WO, Hagen's Sphinx or Osage Orange Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is gray with a green tint and has dark indistinct wavy lines, and pale gray patches at the wing tip and along the costa. Generally more southerly, but a possibility.

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 USGS, 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.

Sphinx eremitus WO, the Hermit Sphinx. Fw upperside: gray-brown with wavy lines, black dashes, one or two small white spots near center of costa. Hw upperside: black with two white bands and triangular black patch at base. Note golden hair on thorax. Larval hosts are various species of beebalm (Monarda), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), and sage (Salvia).

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.

Manduca sexta WO, the Carolina Sphinx. Abdomen usually has six pairs of yellow bands, broken across back. Sixth set quite small. Fw upperside: indistinct black, brown, and white markings. Hw upperside: banded with black and white; two black zigzag median lines very close together with hardly any white showing between them. Fw fringes: spotted with white.

Sphinx canadensis WO, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere. Absence of white spot on each forewing and more brownish coloration serve to separate canadensis from S. poecilus. Hw fringe tends to be white on poecilus and checkered brownish on canadensis. 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 drupiferarum WO, 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 gordius WO, 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 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 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, 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. Generally more northerly.

Sphinx vashti WO, the 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, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx,

This moth has a large, heavy body, and females can be remarkably plump.

Larvae feed on poplars and willows.

Paonias excaecata WO, 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 WO, the Small-eyed Sphinx

This species ranges across North America.

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

Smerinthus cerisyi WO, 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. Note incomplete "C" on right forewing apex.

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO, 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. Note complete "C" on right forewing apex.

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 should be present.

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, 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.

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

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 myron WO, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx. Fw upperside: dark brown to pale yellowish gray, with an olive tint, sometimes quite green. On the costal margin there is a dark rectangular patch, although this may be reduced or absent. Hw upperside: pale orange.

Deidamia inscriptum WO, 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.

Hyles gallii WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

The forewing is dark brown with a slightly irregular cream-coloured transverse line. The outer margin is grey. There is a bright pink band on the hindwing.

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, 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.

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