Currently viewing the category: "Hummingbird Moths, Sphinx Moths or Hawk Moths"
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Subject: Sphinx moth & Creepy Mystery Bug
Location: Lake Arrowhead, CA
July 7, 2014 12:23 pm
Hey Bugman!
I have two bugs for you.
First bug: My boyfriend and I got to hang out with this cool guy for July 4th, he (she?) enjoyed the ambiance of our porch light for many hours. When it flew around, we saw little flashes of pink, but whenever it landed the hindwings were never visible so we couldn’t be sure what they looked like. We spent a lot of time searching to find out its name; we learned that he/she is a Sphinx moth of the family Sphingidae (you know that already but it’s so fun to say). What we couldn’t figure out, is exactly which variety. Walnut sphinx? One-eyed? All we know is that it was gorgeous.

Thanks for your help!
Signature: Krystal

One Eyed Sphinx

Salicet Sphinx

Dear Krystal,
We believe your moth is a One Eyed Sphinx,
Smerinthus cerisyi, but we would not entirely discount one of the other two members of the genus found in California.  You can compare your individual to the One Eyed Sphinx pictured on the Sphingidae of the Americas site.  We are going to try to get a confirmation on our identification from Bill Oehlke.  We are dividing your idenfication request into two distinct postings.

Hi Daniel!
Thank you so much for your quick reply! I think I’m with you that our moth friend was a One-Eyed Sphinx. And my dad and I were very excited about the Harlequin Beetle! We conducted many fruitless internet searches, so to finally have a name for it was awesome. I love your website and I always tell my friends to check it out when they find a bug. Thanks for all you guys do!
Krystal

Bill Oehlke Makes Correction:  Salicet Sphinx July 9, 2014
On Jul 9, 2014, at 8:16 PM, Bill Oehlke wrote:
Daniel,
Smerinthus saliceti
Please see if I can get permission to post and the photographer’s name.
Bill

Will do Bill.  Can you please provide a detailed comparison between the two species?  It would also be great to identify an image from the WTB? archives that best illustrates the differences.
Daniel

Dear Krystal,
Bill Oehlke who runs the Sphingidae of the Americas site has identified your Sphinx as a Salicet Sphinx,
Smerinthus saliceti.  He is also requesting permission to post your image to his site and he is requesting the correct spelling of your name.  You can tell from the mounted specimens on The Sphingidae of the Americas that this is a lovely moth and that the forewings on your specimen more closely match those of Smerinthus saliceti.

Hi Daniel!
I just got your last email, that’s so exciting! I hadn’t heard of that particular Sphinx before. Please tell Mr. Oehlke that he is more than welcome to use my photo! I also am sending along another photo of my moth friend that I took later that evening. Feel free to forward it to him as well. Thanks for all the info! :)
Krystal Kinney

Salicet Sphinx

Salicet Sphinx

Hi Daniel,
I have posted the image of saliceti to
http://www.silkmoths.bizland.com/caSanBernardinosph.htm
and I have added some commentary on the saliceti page to help with future determinations
Thanks to both you and Krystal. Please forward a copy of this email to
Krystal as I do not have her email
Bill

Ed. Note:  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas website:  “The forewing outer margin is wavy, but the apex is not nearly as much produced as in cerisyi, and the upperside of forewing is gray-brown with distinct dark and light bands. The upperside of the hindwing is mostly red with a yellow-tan outer margin and a blue spot which is usually divided by a V-shaped black line.  CATE indicates this species is more orangey-brown than the very similar grey to grey brown Smerinthus cerisyi from further north and east. The hindwing eyspot is also somewhat different. In Smerinthus cerisyi, the hindwing dorsal eyespot has the black mark in the centre of the blue area circular or diamond shaped and completely surrounded by blue, whereas in Smerinthus saliceti the blue spot is divided by a downwardly angulate band that touches the lateral, black borders.”

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Subject: Moth identification
Location: Patna,India
July 7, 2014 5:24 am
Dear Bugman, you have helped me many times…one more request.. I cant identify this moth. Any help will be highly appreciated.
Thanks a lot,
Chandan Singh, India
Signature: chandan singh, Greenpower India

Deathshead Hawkmoth

Death’s Head Hawkmoth

Dear Chandan Singh,
This is a Death’s Head Hawkmoth in the genus
Acherontia, and the common name is derived from the resemblance of the pattern on the thorax to the outline of a human skull.  There are three members of the genus Acherontia, and they are quite similar looking and share the common name, but the most commonly commented upon species is Acherontia atropos which is found in Europe and Africa according to the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website.  Your individual is most likely Acherontia styx which is distributed in Southeast Asia according to the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website.  The third member of the genus, Acherontia lachesis, is also found in India according to the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic site.  Moths from this genus have a unique behavior associated with feeding that is described on the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic site as:  “An avid robber of honey in bee hives (Pittaway, 1993).”  The moth is able to enter hives and rob the honey without being stung to death by the bees.  The Death’s Head Sphinx entered the realm of pop culture when it played a role in the Oscar winning film Silence of the Lambs, appearing in the movie poster as well as being an important narrative element in the script.

Dear Daniel,
Thanks a lot for the the prompt and informative reply.
Best regards

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Unidentified Moths
Location: South Wales, UK
July 6, 2014 1:39 pm
Hi, I have found these two moths on the wall of my house in the last 3 days, and have never seen anything like them before. Can you help me identify them as I cant find them on the internet or in a book on British wildlife I have?
Thank you
Signature: Nick Jones

Poplar Hawkmoth

Poplar Hawkmoth

Hi Nick,
Both of your moths are Sphinx Moths or Hawkmoths in the family Sphingidae, but they represent different species.  Sphinx Moths is the more frequently used common name in North America while in the UK, Hawkmoth is the preferred name.  Moths in the family Sphingidae are characterized by their long, narrow forwings and by powerful flight.  The lighter of the two moths is the Poplar Hawkmoth,
Laothoe populi, and you can find more information on the UK Moths site where it states:  “Probably the commonest of our hawk-moths, it has a strange attitude when at rest, with the hindwings held forward of the forewings, and the abdomen curved upwards at the rear. If disturbed it can flash the hindwings, which have a contrasting rufous patch, normally hidden.”  The other individual is an Eyed Hawkmoth, Smerinthus ocellata, and it is also represented on the UK Moths site where it states:  “Fairly well distributed throughout England and Wales, this species has a sombre, camouflaged appearance at rest, but if provoked, flashes the hindwings, which are decorated with intense blue and black ‘eyes’ on a pinkish background.”  Though we have numerous examples of the Poplar Hawkmoth on our site, your Eyed Hawkmoth represents a new species for our archives.  There are many species of moths that have more brightly colored underwings which are used to startle or otherwise fool predators through some combination of camouflage and mimicry.

Eyed Hawkmoth

Eyed Hawkmoth

Thanks for the prompt reply Daniel – this is really interesting.
Although I’ve seen plenty of other moth species over the years (I’m 52 years old) I’ve never seen these types – even stranger that I spotted them on 2 different days. Is this because at this time of year they hatch?
Many Thanks
Nick

Hello Nick,
Hawkmoths are relatively long lived in the moth world, and adults feed from nectar producing flowers, hence Hawkmoths are present when blooms are present, and in the UK, that tends to be spring and summer, which coincides with your sightings.

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Subject: A big sphinx moth takes the T
Location: Boston MA (Jamaica Plain)
June 17, 2014 4:31 pm
I saw this critter beating against a window at the Green St T station in Boston MA during the second week of June. It took a rest break on the sill and I got its picture from outside through the glass. About 1-1/4″ long and maybe 1-5/8″ wingspan. Very distinctive wing shape, 3 lobed abdomen and pencil thin white band, I’m pretty sure it’s some kind of sphinx but can’t find a web image that really matches. Thanks for any help with this one.
Signature: Louise O

Nessus Sphinx

Nessus Sphinx

Dear Louise,
Our favorite site for identifying Sphinx Moths, since you were correct with your family identification, is the Sphingidae of the Americas website which breaks sightings down by country and state.  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas Massachusetts page, the Nessus Sphinx,
Amphion floridensis, is a diurnal species.

Thanks so much for answering, I saw your vacation notice and thought it unlikely that you’d be able to get to this.  I did see a few images of Nessus on lline and thought it was quite close, but all of them had bold double abdominal bands. The link you gave me does in fact have several pix that show this variation with the pencil thin line, so thanks for sending me to the right place. It was a very dramatic sighting and a mystery no more.
Cheers,
Louise

Upon our return to the office, we have been trying to get to a few old requests that arrived in our absence each day.  Your email was chosen at random, hence the late response.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: moth
Location: redding, CA
June 27, 2014 12:13 pm
found it outside our house in the AM today (with the flowers in his curl). so… which of the many California moths is this one. tried to look it up but other photos of similar moths kinda gave me that Wal-Mart headache you get from too much input.
thanks!
Signature: RipleyMM

Snowberry Sphinx

Snowberry Sphinx

Dear RipleyMM,
We are amused at your visual overdose comparison to shopping at big stores.  We believe we have correctly identified your Snowberry Sphinx as
 Sphinx vashti thanks to the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  The only other example of the Snowberry Sphinx on our site was posted in 2008.

Snowberry Sphinx

Snowberry Sphinx

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Is it a moth?
Location: Manchester UK
June 27, 2014 3:22 am
Hello bugman,
My friend had this little fellow on her leg and when it flew to a post she realised it looked a little strange to be around Manchester!
Signature: Paul Goddard

Poplar Hawkmoth

Poplar Hawkmoth

Dear Paul,
According to UK Moths, the Poplar Hawkmoth,
Laothoe populi, is:  “Probably the commonest of our hawk-moths, [and] it has a strange attitude when at rest, with the hindwings held forward of the forewings, and the abdomen curved upwards at the rear. If disturbed it can flash the hindwings, which have a contrasting rufous patch, normally hidden.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination