Subject: Sphinx moth & Creepy Mystery Bug
Location: Lake Arrowhead, CA
July 7, 2014 12:23 pm
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!
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.
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!
Bill Oehlke Makes Correction: Salicet Sphinx July 9, 2014
On Jul 9, 2014, at 8:16 PM, Bill Oehlke wrote:
Please see if I can get permission to post and the photographer’s name.
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.
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.
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!
I have posted the image of saliceti to
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
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.”