I believe this is a Poplar Hawkmoth; photographed on a wall outside our home in Silver City, NM, on August 6, 2007. The elevation here is 6,250 feet or 1,905 meters. Best regards,
David R. Furnas
You are correct, in a manner of sorts. The Poplar Hawkmoth is a common generally reserved for a European species, Laothoe populi populi. We have two species in the U.S.: Pachysphinx modesta or the Modest Sphinx, and Pachysphinx occidentalis commonly called the Western Poplar Sphinx. BugGuide notes the the Modest Sphinx is sometimes called the Big Poplar Sphinx, but this name is not recommended because: “There is confusion regarding the common name. Holland’s 1904 publication, Covell’s Guide, and the recent Audubon Guide calls P. modesta the Big Poplar Sphinx but that name is used only for P. occidentalis by the Butterflies and Moths of North America site and several other sources. Since both species are called Big Poplar Sphinx by various sources, it would be less confusing if that name were not used at all, and replaced with either Modest Sphinx (for P. modesta ) or Western Poplar Sphinx (for P. occidentalis ). The Modest Sphinx ( Pachysphinx modesta ) occurs coast to coast in North America, whereas the Western Poplar Sphinx ( P. occidentalis ) is restricted to western North America.” Your moth is Pachysphinx occidentalis, the Western Poplar Sphinx. Hawkmoth, though used in the U.S., is most commonly associated with European, especially British species.
It is occidentalis (female). Note the well formed (distinct) inner line in the basal area. In modesta, there is a very diffuse corresponding marking. I would like to use the image. Can you ask photographer to contact me?? Thanks.