Updated as per The Hawk Moths of the North America, 2007, James P. Tuttle (Sphinx to Lintneria); April 2009
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Bill Oehlke at firstname.lastname@example.org
Comments, suggestions and/or additional information are welcomed by Bill.
Family: Sphingidae, Latreille, 1802
copyright C. Odenkirk
The Hermit sphinx, Lintneria eremitus (Wing span: 2 9/16 - 2 15/16 inches (6.5 - 7.5 cm)), flies from Maine south to North Carolina into northern Georgia (James K. Adams, 2002), west to Manitoba, South Dakota and Missouri. It has been seen in southeastern North Dakota (Gerald Fauskes).
In most of the older literature this moth is classified as Sphinx eremitus. James P. Tuttle, in his The Hawk Moths of North America 2007, has placed it in the Lintneria genus. 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.
Lintneria eremitus, June 29, 2005, Peterborough, Ontario, courtesy of Tim Dyson.
adults fly as a single brood from late June-August.
Visit Lintneria eremitus, nectaring at common milkweed and bouncing bet, Rock Island Preserve, June 28; July 7, 2011, Tom Jantscher
Lintneria eremitus, courtesy of David Link.
Lintneria eremitus, Ettrick, Trempealeau County, Wisconsin,
July 15, 2012, courtesy of Don Severson.
Lintneria eremitus (verso), Ettrick, Trempealeau County, Wisconsin,
July 15, 2012, courtesy of Don Severson.
Larval hosts are various species of beebalm (Monarda fistulosa), mints (Mentha), bugleweed (Lycopis), and sage (Salvia).
Image courtesy of Gerald Fauskes.
Image courtesy of Kathleen Casses, 2001.
On August 10, 2006, Joan F. Rickert sent me this image of an immature Sphingidae larva feeding on Monarda in Taylor County, Wisconsin.
I am pretty sure it is Lintneria eremitus based on thoracic scoli and foodplant, and, since Joan reports it is only about an inch long, I suspect it is in third instar.
Congratulations to Joan on an unusual find. Hope she is able to send additional images as the larva matures.
On August 22, 2006, Joan was able to send me a series of beautiful images, confirming the larva above as Lintneria eremitus.
Lintneria eremitus, August 22, Taylor County, Wisconsin, courtesy of Joan F. Rickert.
I do not know if Lintneria eremitus larvae excavate a subterranean chamber in which to pupate or if they pupate in leaf litter on top of the ground. I suspect they tunnel.
Joe Garris of Sussex, New Jersey, reports larvae also feed on Collinsonia canadensis (Canada Horsebalm, Richweed, Hardhack, Heal-All, Horseweed), and he indicates "By the way, you can rear S. eremitus on the houseplant, Coleus.
"When I was running short of fresh Collinsonia one day, it dawned on me that Coleus is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) (square stem, flowers, etc.). The caterpillars devoured it. Since my wife had lots of Coleus growing in big pots on the deck, I never fed them anything else after that."
Visit Lintneria eremitus fifth instar, Ogemaw County, Michigan, Cindy Mead.
Visit Lintneria eremitus larva, pupa and adult moth, Door County, Wisconsin, courtesy of Janice Stiefel.
Visit Lintneria eremitus fifth instar and pupa, Apalachin, Tioga County, New York, September 22, 2008, courtesy of Colleen Wolpert.
Visit Lntneria eremitus fifth instar, Granby, Hartford County, Connecticut, September 20, 2009, courtesy of Krissy Craig.
Lintneria eremitus pupa, Apalachin, Tioga County, New York,
October 8, 2008, courtesy of Colleen Wolpert.
I am surprised the larva took so long to pupate. Most mature Sphingidae larvae pupate within a week after feeding stops.
Please visit my special request for images of Lintneria species larvae at Lintneria larvae, and help if you can. It is anticipated that the Lintneria larvae will most often be encountered on Lamiaceae: Salvia (Sage), Mentha (Mints), Monarda (Beebalm) and Hyptis (Bushmints); Verbenaceae: Verbena and Lantana camara (shrub verbenas or lantanas).
Although they may be encountered feeding during daylight hours, one is even more likely to discover them feeding in the evening or after dark.
Two of the greatest clues for discovering larvae are stripped foliage and droppings beneath the plant. You might be quite surprised at what will turn up in the evening or after dark in a flashlight assisted search.
It is believed that all "Lintneria larvae will exhibit "a fleshy thoracic dorsal "horn" in the first 4 instars (unique in the Sphingidae of the world to my knowledge) which is replaced by a thoracic dorsal "hump" with a large black patch in the 5th instar." J.A. Tuttle.
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