Updated as per James P. Tuttle's The Hawk Moths of North America, July 18, 2011

Washington County, Wisconsin
Sphingidae

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 Washington 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).

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.

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.

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

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 might have this species (generally more northerly). It also flies on P.E.I.

Lintneria eremitus WO, 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).

Manduca quinquemaculata 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

Manduca sexta WO, the Carolina Sphinx

This species is now recorded in Gloucester by Jesse Donovan. If you grow tomatoes, you have probably encountered it, though.

Larvae get very large and can strip a tomato plant. only in southern Wisconsin

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 just to the north.

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

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, 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 large poplar/willow feeder is likely in Waukesha County just to the north.

They are a heavy bodied species.

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 small species is probably in your county. 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,

Larvae feed on poplars and willows. Flight would be from late May-July as a single brood. This one is very questionable.

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.

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 your 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, 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

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 is likely present.

Darapsa versicolor WO, the Hydrangea Sphinx

If you have hydrangea growing near a stream, then you may have the Hydrangea Sphinx.

It has not been reported in Walworth, but is likely there.

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 arc in the abdomen.

Hyles gallii WO, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is not reported in Waukesha, 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, 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.

Enjoy some of nature's wonderments, giant silk moth cocoons. These cocoons are for sale winter and fall. Beautiful Saturniidae moths will emerge the following spring and summer. Read Actias luna rearing article. Additional online help available.

Eggs of many North American species are offered during the spring and summer. Occasionally summer Actias luna and summer Antheraea polyphemus cocoons are available. Shipping to US destinations is done from with in the US.

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