Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, November 3, 2009
Updated as per personal communication with Dan Jackson, November 3, 2009, ongoing

Vernon County, Wisconsin
Sphingidae

Deidamia inscriptum, Chaseburg, Vernon County, Wisconsin,
May 7, 2011, courtesy of Dan Jackson.

Thirty Sphingidae species are listed in the USGS for Wisconsin. Not all of the species are reported (none by USGS as of November 2009) or anticipated (thirty-three by Bill Oehlke) in Vernon County.

This page is inspired by and dedicated to Dan Jackson who has given me permission to post data and images from his Pbase website at http://www.pbase.com/dejackson/gallery/moths.

Dan writes, "Mary Ann Roesler of La Crosse shared your site with me and told me that you have been a great help in helping to ID moths.

"Could you take a look to see if I have my moth pictures correctly identified? I have very poor pictures of a Small-eyed Sphinx that I took at my home in rural Chaseburg (Vernon County) in addition to these. Those were so poor that I did not include them on my site. I have seen White-lined Spinx moths in either or both counties and perhaps others as well. Those were seen before I had digital cameras and I don't have pictures or other records.

"Thanks for the help!!"

Dan has provided very nice images and data for Saturniidae, Sphingidae and Catocala. His identifications are correct as of June 3, 2011.

Visit Wisconsin Catocala.

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 Vernon 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.

Please also forward your sightings to BAMONA, an excelletn online resource.

Dan Jackson writes, "The Hemaris diffinis shot that I just sent to you reminded me of another that I took at my home in Vernon County, Wisconsin on 7/30/11. I think that you will enjoy it. You donít see this every day!!

In that clump of flowers that was about 3 m square, there were 8 Hemaris thysbe and 3 Hemaris diffinis feeding at the same time. I really lucked out when one of each start to nectar on the same flower. That was my best shot."

WOW!!!

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

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/DJ, 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. slight possibility, confirmed by Dan Jackson

Ceratomia catalpae larva, October 2, 2011, Chaseburg, Dan Jackson

Ceratomia undulosa DJ, 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, Chaseburg, August 9, 2010, Dan Jackson

Dolba hyloeus WO, 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.

Lapara bombycoides WO, the Northern Pine Sphinx

This species is not officially reported from La Crosse.

If you have pines, you probably have this species. It also flies on P.E.I.

Lintneria eremitus WO, the Hermit Sphinx
The upperside of the forewing is gray-brown with wavy lines, black dashes, and one or two small white spots near the center of the costa. The upperside of the hindwing is black with two white bands and a triangular black patch at the base. Note the golden hair on the thorax.

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.

Sphinx canadensis WO, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere, but it might be present in Trempealeau 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 drupiferarum WO, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

We have them on P.E.I., but I do not see them nearly as frequently as I see the other Sphingidae.

Sphinx gordius WO, the Apple Sphinx

Note the pm line, absent in Sphinx poecila which flies more to the north.

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 upperside of the forewing is yellowish gray in males and pale gray with a faint yellow tint in females. In both sexes, the dark border on the outer margin widens as it approaches the inner margin.

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.

Sphinx vashti WO, the Snowberry Sphinx

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.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis WO/DJ, 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.

Amorpha juglandis, Chaseburg, June 1, 2011, May 11, 2012, Dan Jackson

Pachysphinx modesta DJ, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx,

This large poplar/willow feeder is not reported in Trempealeau County, but it is probably present.

They are a heavy bodied species.

Pachysphinx modesta, Chaseburg, July 15, 2007, May 30, 2010, Dan Jackson

Paonias excaecata DJ, 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, Chaseburg, July 1, 2009, Dan Jackson

Paonias myops WO/DJ, the Small-eyed Sphinx

This small species is confirmed in Trempealeau County by Ian Miller. This species ranges across North America.

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

Paonias myops, Chaseburg, June 1, 2011, May 3, 2012, Dan Jackson

Smerinthus cerisyi DJ, 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, Chaseburg, June 1, 2008, Dan Jackson

Smerinthus jamaicensis WO/DJ, 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, Chaseburg, May 3, 2012, Dan Jackson

Macroglossinae subfamily


Dilophonotini Tribe:

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris diffinis DJ, 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, Stoddard, July 15, 2009, Dan Jackson

Hemaris gracilis WO, The Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing.

Hemaris thysbe DJ, 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

This moth is not reported for Trempealeau, but it may be present.

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 might 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, 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 DJ, 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, Chaseburg, June 3, 2008, Dan Jackson

Deidamia inscriptum DJ, 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 adult moth, Chaseburg, May 7, 2011, courtesy of Dan Jackson

Hyles gallii WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is not reported in La Crosse, 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 DJ, 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, Chaseburg, August 16, 2010; May 11, 2012, Dan Jackson

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.

Use your browser "Back" button to return to the previous page.

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.


Show appreciation for this site by clicking on flashing butterfly to the left.
The link will take you to a page with links to many insect sites.