Currently viewing the category: "Hummingbird Moths, Sphinx Moths or Hawk Moths"
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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.”

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Subject: Beautiful Moth
Location: Seattle, WA
June 17, 2014 8:54 pm
Hi!
We took these pictures on the deck of our apartment building a few days ago. Since yesterday the moth has come inside the building and is now perched on our apartment door frame. It hasn’t moved in 24 hours. What is this gorgeous moth? Should we be worried about its stillness?
Signature: Thanks – Lasara

Smerinthus ophthalmica

Smerinthus ophthalmica

Dear Lasara,
Your moth is a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth that we have identified as
Smerinthus ophthalmica on the Sphingidae of the Americas website where we learned that it “closely resembles Smerinthus cerisyi, and until recently (2010) had been synonymized with cerisyi.”  So, though this moth was not unknown in the Pacific Northwest, it has recently been reclassified as a new species.  The slender curved abdomen indicates this is a male.  Often moths rest a few days after metamorphosis and we do not believe you need to worry.

Sphinx Moth

Sphinx Moth

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Subject: Moth
Location: Denver, CO
June 21, 2014 3:16 pm
These were on my fence, about 3″ across.
Signature: Mtnwanderer

Mating Big Poplar Sphinxes

Mating Big Poplar Sphinxes

Dear Mtnwanderer,
These appear to be mating Big Poplar Sphinxes,
Pachysphinx occidentalis, and you can verify that on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination