Currently viewing the category: "Hummingbird Moths, Sphinx Moths or Hawk Moths"
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Oleander Hawk Moth in VA?
April 15, 2010
Here’s a photo of a little guy that spent the whole day hanging out on a brick wall at a job site in Lorton, VA with me. He certainly looks like a Oleander Hawk Moth, but seems to be way out of his range.
Curious in Baltimore
Lorton, VA

Pandora Sphinx

Dear Curious,
While the coloration of your moth is similar to that of the Oleander Hawkmoth, your specimen is a different species in the same family.  Your Pandora Sphinx is a local species.

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Little moth sounds like a little airplane
March 27, 2010
I love your site. The fabulous pictures have helped identify many of the bugs I’ve photographed in my travels. I live in Jakarta, Indonesia. This year the raining season has brought lots of butterflies (I’ve counted at least 10 different ones) and a few caterpillars. Unfortunately, because of the rain, we are getting lots of ants too. Most of my neighbors requested to have the gardens/houses fumigated weekly. So I do my rounds and collect caterpillars and keep them until I get beautiful butterflies and moths. I have full cycles of a few different bugs, which I’d love to upload to get them identified. I think this is a type of hummingbird moth. The gardeners thought it was a bird!
Many many thanks.
Kemang, South Jakarta, Indonesia

Gardenia Hawkmoth

Hi Miriam,
We are touched by your letter and your neighborhood efforts to preserve caterpillars, moths and butterflies in your area.  We also hope you send us additional photos and information on your rescue efforts.
You are correct that this is a Hummingbird Moth.  More specifically, this is the Gardenia Hawkmoth, Cephonodes hylas, a species common in Asia.  The caterpillar in your photo actually appears to be feeding on the leaves of gardenia.  You can see additional photos and read about this moth on the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website that states: “The moths are rather slow in taking to the wing, but when they do so the flight is very rapid. They make a deep humming note when slightly alarmed, as do Macroglossum moths. They are very active in the morning and evening and dart rapidly from flower to flower, as well as ovipositing on the wing. They are not attracted by light. Bred females do not readily attract wild males, but the sexes pair freely in captivity.

Gardenia Hawkmoth Caterpillar

The image of the egg appears to be ready to hatch. The egg on the cited website is described:  “OVUM: Pale blue-green or green when freshly laid, becoming pale canary yellow with age. Oval (0.75 x 0.85mm), shiny and very smooth. Laid singly on the underside of young leaves near the growing tip, or on shoot tips.

Gardenia Hawkmoth Egg

Hi Daniel,
Thank you for confirming that it is indeed a hummingbird moth. All three specimens I’ve photographed still had the protective coating of scales. They started vibrating their wings, lost some brown fluid (just like the swallowtails do when emerging from the chrysalis) and some scales as they tried to fly. One of them took hours to completely clear its wings, the other two did it in less than 30 minutes. I promise to upload other photos.
Many thanks for your response,

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Is it an Oleander Hawk Moth?
March 19, 2010
I’ve spotted this cute looking moth at a playground, fortunately I happened to have my camera with me. It’s a rather large moth – I would say around 8-10 cm wingspan. Searching the web, I found it to resemble the Oleander Hawk Moth –
only my fellow is yellow-brown rather than green. Can you help me identify it please?
Israel, Tel Aviv area

Oleander Hawkmoth

Hi Gal,
The markings on your moth sure look like those of the Oleander Hawkmoth, Daphnis nerii, but as you point out, the coloration is unusual.  We found a Sphingidae of Israel website that pictures an Oleander Hawkmoth, and nothing else pictured looks remotely similar.  The Sphingidae of the Western Palaearctic website does show a more brown specimen, but it also depicts a closely related species on another page, Daphnis hypothous, that is brown.  The site indicates that a white  spot on the forewing apex identifies the latter species, and that spot is missing from your specimen.  We believe your specimen is a color variation of the Oleander Hawkmoth, but we will contact Bill Oehlke to verify that identification.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

March 18, 2010
i found this beautiful and cute moth,just 1 meter from my front door.she was shaking and did not fly away as i held it.
i noticed the beautiful orange hidden wings…
i wanted to know what is it…so you are the best ones to ask buggy buddy..!!
BTW , we see these moth in coastern cities of syria,but i found this one in a dry area.

Striped Hawkmoth

Your moth is a Striped Hawkmoth, Hyles livornica, and it very closely resembles a North American species, the Striped Morning Sphinx, Hyles lineata.  Both species occasionally have population explosions.  Just over a year ago, we received a letter from Iraq with a photo showing hundreds of Striped Hawkmoths that had been attracted to the lights on an oil drilling rig.

Striped Hawkmoth

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Another Yam Hawkmoth?
February 26, 2010
We saw this unusual bug on the wall at our hotel in Myrtle Beach, SC back in Sept. When I went looking to identify it, I found your site. We are from PA so the insect is totally foreign to us. Thanks for your help.
Cindy Smith
Myrtle Beach, SC

Tersa Sphinx

Dear Cindy,
This is a Tersa Sphinx, Xylophanes tersa.  Interestingly, Tina from Hawaii, who submitted the photo of Hippotion boerhaviae, which we originally misidentified as a Yam Hawkmoth, believed her moth resembled a Tersa Sphinx.  You may read more about the Tersa Sphinx on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

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Tersa sphinx or other moth?
February 23, 2010
Okay, so at first I thought that I had readily identified this as a Tersa Sphinx, however they aren’t even listed here in Hawaii on the Insects of Hawaii website (not that it doesn’t mean they don’t exist here). So, then I decided to look a little further and realized that the Tersa Sphinx has black and white coloration on the lower wings. I went back outside to try to bother my newfound subject into showing me his/her wings, Took some effort, but to my surprise they were orangey pink not black and white. So now here I sit stumped and confused. It was approximately 1.5-2 inches long, and is sitting on a fire hose connection under the outside light. Could it possibly be Hippotion boerhaviae or maybe perhaps Hippotion rosetta? How are you supposed to be able to tell the difference in these moths? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Oahu, Hawaii

Hawkmoth: Hippotion species

Dear Tina,
We are nearly certain your moth is a Yam Hawkmoth, Theretra nessus, and it is depicted on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  Bill only has one image of a living moth, and your moth has light markings on the thorax that differ from the identified image.  We checked a second website, and the Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic has numerous living specimens, but again, they all lack the light stripe on your individual.  We are copying Bill Oehlke on this response in the hope that he can either confirm our identification, or provide a correct identification.  We hope you will also provide Bill with additional information as he is compiling comprehensive data on Sphingidae sightings, and he may also want to post your photos on his site.

Hawkmoth: Hippotion species

Bill Oehlke makes a correction
Here is message I sent to Tina:
Hi Tina,
Daniel Marlos asked me to have a look at your Sphingidae images from Hawaii.
There are no known resident populations of Hippotion species on Hawaii, but I agree that your pictures show either H. rosetta or H. boerhaviae
Sphingidae are known to fly great distances, but your specimen seems to be in very fine shape, not at all warn from a long flight.
I suspect it came in on one of the cruise ships. It may have alighted on one of the ships in the South Pacific, attracted by lights, and may have remained there for a trip to Hawaii.
It also may have come in on an imported shipment of potted plants. They don’t always get inspected as well as they should, and if the larva had already gone underground, it would have gone unnoticed until it emerged about fourteen days later as a moth in a new location. Also possible that someone found the larva or pupa while digging, wanted to see what it would become, put it in a jar, hopped on an airplane and flew to Hawaii.
While on vacation the moth emerged and you photographed it.
You are right, it is not Xylophanes tersa; nor do I think it is Theretra nessus.
Determining identifications for many look-alike Sphingidae species can be difficult. As your moth is an obvious stray or import, we do not know its origin. Sometimes seeng the hindwing helps, sometimes seeing the ventral surface works.
There aere some species so similar that DNA barcoding or analysis of genitalia are necessary to tell them apart.
Bill Oehlke

I wanted to say thank you so much for the quick responses. I did find Hippotion boerhaviae listed on the species index for Hawaiian insects on the insects of Hawaii website, though it does say that they are not native. I don’t know if they can be readily found here, but I am assuming that is what it means. As to Bill Oehlke using my photos for his website, I would be more than honored, and if he needed any additional data I would be more than willing to provide it as well. Again, thank you all for such speedy and informative responses.

Ed. Note
The Sphingidae of the Eastern Palaearctic website indicates:  “Adults can also travel long distances, either voluntary or involuntary. Bell & Scott (1937) once saw hundreds come on board a ship sailing between Aden (Yemen) and Bombay (India) during a cyclone.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination