Ontario, Canada

Forty-five Sphingidae species are listed for Ontario, based on an intial list provided to me by Dave Clermont for Quebec. I (Bill Oehlke) adapted the list, and then amended it based on information provided by Jeff Crolla. Twelve of those forty-five species would be quite rare and probably occur as adult moths as irregular migrants rather than as breeding and overwintering populations.

Please help me develop this list with improved, documented accuracy by sending sightings (species, date, location), preferably with an electronic image, via email to Bill Oehlke.

This page is dedicated to Tim Dyson in appreciation for his help with Sphingidae sightings and images in Ontario. Many thanks to other Ontario residents who have provided images and data.

Sphinginae subfamily

Sphingini tribe:

Agrius cingulata stray, Pink-spotted Hawkmoth stray

This moth is a very strong flier, but would only make its way to Ontario as a rare stray.

Ceratomia amyntor abundant, 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.

Ceratomia catalpae stray, 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. might be a casual breeder in south

Ceratomia undulosa abundant, Waved Sphinx
The upperside of the forewing is pale brownish gray with wavy black and white lines and a black-outlined white cell spot. The upperside of the hindwing is gray with diffuse darker bands.

Dolba hyloeus present, 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.

Lapara bombycoides abundant, the Northern Pine Sphinx

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

Lintneria eremitus present, 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.

Manduca quinquemaculatus abundant, Five-spotted Hawkmoth
Abdomen usually has five but sometimes six pairs of yellow bands. Fw upperside: blurry brown and gray. I suspect if you grow tomatoes, you are likely to encounter it.

Manduca rustica rare stray, the Rustic Sphinx

Look for three large yellow spots on each side of the abdomen. The upperside of the forewing is yellowish brown to deep chocolate brown with a dusting of white scales and zigzagged black and white lines.

Manduca sexta irregular migrant, the Carolina Sphinx
The abdomen usually has six pairs of yellow bands, broken across the back. The sixth set of markings is quite small. The upperside of the forewing has indistinct black, brown, and white markings. If you grow tomatoes, however, you may have encountered it.

Manduca sexta, Chatham, Kent County, September 6-8, 2010, 9:01-9:13pm, John Van der Pryt.

Paratrea plebeja rare stray, the Plebeian Sphinx

The upperside of the forewing is gray with indistinct black and white markings. There is a series of black dashes from the base to the tip, and a small white cell spot.

Sphinx canadensis present, Sphinx canadensis, the Canadian Sphinx, is not common, and is not often reported anywhere, but it might be present in Ontario County as it is reported from southern Ontario, Canada.

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

Sphinx chersis abundant, Northern Ash Sphinx; Great Ash Sphinx
This species is present and is probably common. Larval hosts are ash, lilac, privet, cherry, and quaking aspen.

Sphinx drupiferarum abundant, the Wild Cherry Sphinx

This species is officially reported in Ontario. We have them on P.E.I., but I do not see them nearly as frequently as I see the other Sphingidae.

Sphinx gordius probably poecila, 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.

Sphinx kalmiae present, 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 present, the Canadian Sphinx or Clemen's Sphinx

This one is reported from Ontario, but it is generally not common.

Sphinx poecila abundant, the Poecila Sphinx

If you have blueberries in the woods, then you might have the Poecila Sphinx. They are pretty common here on Prince Edward Island.

Smerinthini Tribe:

Amorpha juglandis common, 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 common, the Modest Sphinx or Poplar Sphinx
This moth is recorded regularly in Ontario. Its larvae are fond of poplars and willows.

They are common on Prince Edward Island.

Paonias excaecata common, the Blinded Sphinx

Named for the dull grey-blue spot (minus dark pupil) in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is common in Ontario.
I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as Florida.

Paonias myopscommon, the Small-eyed Sphinx

Named for the small eye-spot in the hindwing, this moth has a wide distribution and is probably common in Ontario.

I regularly see them on Prince Edward Island, and they are reported as far south as Florida.

Smerinthus cerisyi common, the Cerisyi's Sphinx
Smerinthus cerisyi is found in the southern regions of all Canadian provinces and in northern border states. The one-eyed sphinx is also found along the U.S. west coast, eastward to the Rockies. At my home in Montague, P.E.I., Canada, they are quite common.

Smerinthus jamaicensis common, the Twin-spotted Sphinx

This moth is widely distributed and fairly common.

Along the East Coast, it flies from P.E.I. to Florida. I suspect it is present.

Macroglossinae subfamily

Dilophonotini tribe:

Aellopos fadus rare stray, the Fadus Sphinx.

The body is brown with a wide white band across the abdomen. The upperside of wings is dark brown; the forewing has two bands of pale spots and lacks a black spot (typical of clavipes) at the end of the cell. rare stray

Aellopos titan rare migrant, the Titan Sphinx. possible stray

The body is dark brown with a wide white stripe across the abdomen. The wings are dark brown. It is very similar to above species, but the upperside of the hindwing has pale patches along the costa and inner margin.

Erinnyis ello rare migrant, the Ello Sphinx

This species is reported in Maricopa County and in other southern Arizona counties.
Males and females differ.

Erinnyis obscura, the Obscure Sphinx, rare migrant

During the night adults nectar at flowers, including bouncing bet (Saponaria officinalis) and Asystasia gangetica beginning at dusk.

July and August are flight times in the southern states. remote possibility

See Hemaris comparison to help distinguish the next three species.

Hemaris thysbe common, 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, Chatham, Kent County, August 14, 2007, 8:28pm, John Van der Pryt.

Hemaris diffinis common, the Snowberry Clearwing or Bumblebee Moth
Adults mimic bumblebees and are quite variable. The wings are basically clear, with dark brown to brownish-orange veins, bases and edges. The thorax is golden-brown to dark greenish-brown with 1-2 yellow segments on the abdomen.

Hemaris gracilis present, the Slender Clearwing or Graceful Clearwing

This day-flying moth is less common.

Philampelini tribe:

Eumorpha achemon present, the Achemon Sphinx

This moth is reported for Ontario, and it is fairly often reported along the east coast from southern New Jersey to central Maine. Note the differences between this moth and the Pandorus Sphinx.

Eumorpha fasciatus rare migrant, the Banded Sphinx
The upperside of the moth is dark pinkish brown. Each forewing has a lighter brown band along the costa, and sharp pinkish white bands and streaks. Larvae feed upon primrose-willow, Ludwigia (water primrose) and other plants in the evening primrose family.

Eumorpha pandorus common, 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 not previously reported.

Eumorpha pandorus, Chatham, Kent County, August 3, 2007, John Van der Pryt.
Eumorpha pandorus, Burlington, Halton Region, July 24, 2012, Nancy Sandeman.

Macroglossini tribe:

Amphion floridensis common, the Nessus Sphinix

This day flier is widely distributed. If you have Virginia Creeper, you probably have the Nessus Sphinx. It is officially reported from Ontario.
Two bright, distinct, narrow yellow bands are often visible on the abdomen.

Amphion floridensis, Chatham, Kent County, June 13, 2007, 8:44pm, John Van der Pryt.

Darapsa choerilus common, 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.
It is confirmed for Ontario.

Darapsa myron present, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx or the Grapevine Sphinx

It is widely reported as far north as southern Maine. If you have the foodplants indicated in the common names, you probably have this species nearby.

Darapsa versicolor present, the Hydrangea Sphinx

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

Deidamia inscriptum common, the Lettered Sphinx

This species has been recorded in Ontario, and it is an early season flier.

Larvae feed on grape foliage and on Virginia Creeper.

Hyles euphorbiae introduced, the Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth

This species has been introduced into Ontario to try to control the spread of leafy spurge.

Hyles gallii present, the Bedstraw Hawk Moth or Gallium Sphinx

This species is reported in Ontario.

Some years I see them on P.E.I., some years, I do not.

Hyles gallii, 5:30 pm, drinking from flowers, Cobourg, Janice Dixon

Hyles lineata irregular migrant, the White-lined Sphinx

This species is reported from Ontario. It flies across southern New York and has strong migrating tendancies. There are records from New Hampshire and Maine.

Hyles lineata, September 24, 2010, Chatham, Kent County, John van der Pryt.
Hyles lineata, August 2012, Lake of the Woods, Kenora, Brenda Chambers-Ivey.

Proserpinus flavofasciata present, the Yellow-banded Day Sphinx

This day flier is officially reported from Ontario, but it maynot be common. Look for them in meadows near coniferous forests.

Sphecodina abbottii common, the Abbott's Sphinx

This moth is very much under reported across the United States and canada. It is a rapid day flier so is probably not in too many collections. Grape is a popular larval host.

Xylophanes tersa irregular migrant, the Tersa Sphinx

This moth is much more common to the south. It is a strong migrant, however, and occasionally flies in Ontario.

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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