Blinded Sphinxes

Subject:  Moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Southwestern NH
Date: 07/24/2019
Time: 01:02 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Seen about 7am after a night of steady rain, the moth was attached to an outside house window screen, and about three feet from that one, another sitting on the plastic frame of the garden hose holder. July 23, 2019.
How you want your letter signed:  NH woodland area

Blinded Sphinx with Rain Drops

Your close-up image of the Sphinx Moth with rain drops is gorgeous.  We are happy you also sent more traditional dorsal views as we were able to identify it as Paonias excaecata a Blinded Sphinx, a common name that refers to the markings on the oceli on the underwings.  When the moth is threatened, it reveals the underwings which creates the illusion of a pair of eyes startling a predator into perceiving that it might have awakened a sleeping giant.  Because those markings include a light blue center dot, rather than a black pupil found on the oceli of many other species of “eyed moths”, the Blinded Sphinx appears to have cataracts.  In searching for Sphingidae of the Americas, we encountered a new [to us] site Sphingidae of the United States of America where it states:  “This species seems to only fly in the warmer months in the Northeast, and even in Florida, it doesn’t seem to be recorded from December to March. This species is extremely common at lights, and both sexes are attracted to light. It does not feed as an adult. The adults do have a fairly large size difference, with females being much larger and rounder than males.”  After that internet detour, we returned to Sphingidae of the Americas to get the information “Males demonstrate a strong curve to the abdomen” so we could inform you that both of your moths are males.

Blinded Sphinx

I researched your page and guessed a Blind Sphinx. Thank you for confirming. This encounter, with these two beauties has peaked my interest, and I’ll now be on the look out for others.
Enjoy the rain drop photo. I did take it myself with an iPhone 8 Plus. You may use it if you want on your page.
Happy week,

Blinded Sphinx

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