Eliminating Sphinx Moths: Fast and Effective Approaches

folder_openInsecta, Lepidoptera
comment6 Comments

Sphinx moths, also known as hawk moths, are large, heavy-bodied insects with long, pointed abdomens and often narrow, triangular forewings. While these moths play an important role in pollination and can be quite fascinating, they may also prove to be a nuisance when they infest gardens or homes.

There are several ways to manage sphinx moth populations and protect your plants from potential harm. In this article, we will explore different methods to effectively control and prevent these pests from becoming a problem. By understanding their life cycle and behavior, you can take appropriate action to safeguard your beloved plants and maintain a healthy ecosystem.

Identifying Sphinx Moths

Physical Characteristics

Sphinx moths are easily recognizable due to their distinct features:

  • Size: Large moths, with a wingspan ranging from 28 to 39 mm.
  • Color: Mottled warm brown forewings and dark pink and brown hindwings.
  • Eyespots: Prominent black and blue eyespots on hindwings.

For example, the White-lined Sphinx Moth (Hyles lineata) has a white line running across its forewings, making it easy to identify.

Moth Behavior

Sphinx moths exhibit unique behaviors that can help in their identification:

  • Flight pattern: Erratic and fast flying, resembling hummingbirds.
  • Activity: Primarily nocturnal, but some species are attracted to lights at night.
  • Pollination: Contribute to the pollination of various plants while seeking nectar.

A comparison of Sphinx Moth characteristics:

Trait Example Description
Size Blind Eyed Sphinx (Paonias excaecatus) Large moth (FW length 28-39 mm)
Color White-lined Sphinx Moth Warm brown forewings, dark pink and brown hindwings
Behavior Hawk Moths (Sphingidae) Erratic, fast flight; nocturnal; pollinators

Prevention Methods

Garden Maintenance

  • Regularly remove garden debris like fallen leaves and branches
  • Keep plants trimmed and spaced apart for good air circulation
  • Rotate crops annually to disrupt moth life cycles

Maintaining a clean and organized garden is essential in preventing sphinx moth infestations. Regular garden maintenance helps remove potential breeding sites for moths.

Natural Predators

  • Encourage birds by providing nesting sites and food sources
  • Attract bats with bat houses
  • Introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings

Promoting natural predators of sphinx moths in your garden can help control their population. Birds, bats, and beneficial insects are among the most effective predators of these pests.

Predator Pros Cons
Birds Feed on moths and caterpillars May also eat beneficial insects
Bats Consume large quantities of insects May be seen as a nuisance by some people
Ladybugs Prey on larvae May not consume moths in large quantities
Lacewings Feed on moth eggs and larvae More delicate and sensitive to chemicals

In summary, maintaining a clean garden and promoting the presence of natural predators can help prevent sphinx moth infestations without resorting to chemical treatments.

Pest Control

Organic Remedies

  • Neem oil: Dilute neem oil with water and spray it on plants to repel sphinx moth caterpillars. It is biodegradable and safe for beneficial insects.
  • Physical removal: Handpick caterpillars from plants and dispose of them in soapy water.

Chemical Solutions

  • Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt): A bacterial pesticide that specifically targets caterpillars. Apply it to foliage, but be aware of its potential impact on non-target species.
  • Residual insecticides: Use products like pyrethroids with caution due to their possible harm to pollinators.

Comparison Table

Method Pros Cons
Neem oil Safe for beneficial insects; biodegradable Needs to be reapplied after rain
Handpicking Chemical-free; no harm to beneficial insects Time-consuming; not suitable for large areas
Bt Targets caterpillars Possible effects on non-target species
Pyrethroids Long-lasting Harmful to pollinators

Monitoring and Future Prevention

Regular Inspections

Conduct regular inspections of your garden and plants for signs of sphinx moths and their larvae. Keep an eye out for:

  • Chewed foliage
  • Sphinx moth caterpillars, which are usually green or brown with distinctive markings
  • Adult sphinx moths, which are large and fast-flying, with a wingspan of 2 to 4 inches (source)

Continued Maintenance

Maintain a healthy garden to prevent sphinx moth infestations. Key steps include:

  • Prune dead and diseased branches.
  • Use organic pesticides to target caterpillars, avoiding harm to beneficial pollinators.
  • Encourage natural predators like birds and parasitic wasps.

Comparison table of two methods:

Method Pros Cons
Organic pesticides Targets caterpillars; eco-friendly May require repeat applications
Natural predators Low-maintenance; no chemicals May not completely control infestation

By regularly inspecting and maintaining your garden, you can prevent sphinx moth infestations and protect your plants.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Mating Clearwing Sphinxes


bug love photo
Here’s another photo of hummingbird clearwing moths mating. I guess flowers really do work. This was taken in Memphis, TN.
Tim Doyle

Hi Tim,
Thanks for the wonderful photo of mating Clearwing Sphinxes. We have difficulty distinguishing the species, but we believe this is the Snowberry Clearwing, Hemaris diffinis.

Letter 2 – Great Ash Sphinxes Mating


We found this moth outside our california home I can’t find it on your sight. I am so curious.

Hi Tiffany,
We believe these are Great Ash Sphinxes, Sphinx chersis. Bill Oehlke has an excellent page devoted to this moth.

Letter 3 – Hydrangea Sphinx and Spotted Apatelodes


moth identification
Hello! Thanks so much for your great webpage! I can usually identify moths on my own but I’m having trouble with a couple we found the other night in Black Mountain, NC. My friend took the following photos (feel free to use them on your site.) We’d love to know what they are. I can’t find this sphinx anywhere! Also, I didn’t see a hydrangea sphinx on your site so I thought you might like this photo, which does a great job showing their color. Thanks in advance!
Eliza & Richard

Spotted Apatelodes Hydrangea Sphinx

Hi Eliza and Richard,
Thank you for sending the Hydrangea Sphinx, Darapsa versicolor, photo to us. One of your unidentified moths is not a sphinx, but a a Spotted Apatelodes Moth, Apatelodes torrefacta. This moth ranges from Canada to the Southern state and west to the Mississippi River. It is relatively common in the Appalacian region. It is in the family Bombycidae (Silkworm Moths). The other moth will require some research from us, but sadly, we haven’t time right now.

Letter 4 – Eumorpha capronnieri: Sphinx from Tobago


hawkmoth from the island of Tobago
photographed a week or so ago on the island of Tobago, W. I. Wingspread about 4 1/2 inches. Any ideas?
Arthur C. Borror.

Dear Arthur,
We have been obsessed with identifying your Sphinx Moth, and we appreciate the efforts you took to get us the image. After searching well over 100 species on Bill Oehlke’s excellent site, we located Eumorpha capronnieri, which is found in Venezuala. This looks like a perfect match for your lovely moth.

Many thanks for the “obsessing” re my snapshot of Eumorpha caponnieri. I visited the Bill Oehlke site, found his description, and agree w yr diagnosis. I’ve been interested in Lepidoptera all my life, stimulated by my father, Donald J. Borror, author of “An Introduction to the Study of Insects” as well as Peterson Series field guide on insects. He would have been amazed at the modern technology! Many thanks again for the help.

Letter 5 – Hawaiian Sphinx: rare Blackburn's Sphinx or not?????


Expert Bill Oehlke says not and identifies it as Pink Spotted Hawkmoth

Blackburn’s Sphinx Larvae & Moth ?
9 January 2007 -Waikoloa, Hawaii
Aloha Bug man,
This past Saturday I was out in the middle of the Big Island’s famous Parker Ranch experimenting with my new digital Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50. I photographed a green and white larvae I do not remember seeing before. If was on an old wooden fence post. Help from friends on the Mainland it was determined that what I had photographed was a Blackburn’s Sphinx Larvae.

Sunday evening my wife came to get me to show me the moth that was above the sink in the kitchen. It fit the description of the the Blackburn’s Sphinx larvae!! On your Website you have identified what seems to be an identical moth as the Pink Spotted Hawk Moth. Blackburn’s Sphinx Moth (Mandica blackburnsi).
Compare to my composite the Blackburn’s Sphinx Moth below. Hoping to hear from you.

Hi Michael,
We are not saying you are right or wrong, but simply want to mention some possible holes in the logic that lead to your identification. Blackburn’s Sphinx is very endangered. Sphinx larvae are very difficult to positively identify. According to your letter, the larva and adult were found in different locations. Many other sphinx moths resemble the Blackburn’s Sphinx, most notably the quite common Tomato Hornworm which has probably been introduced to Hawaii on cultivated tomato plants. Are your friends on the mainland specialists in Sphinx identification? We do not feel confident enough to give you a conclusive answer and think you need a true expert. We strongly recommend contacting Bill Oehlke at his website:
Please let us know what he thinks. We will also be contacting him, but as an intermediary, we feel you might be able to provide much more valuable information for him.

Dear Bill Oehlke,
This is Daniel Marlos from What’s That Bug? I often use your site to identify adult Sphinx Moths and Caterpillars. I just received the following letter with photos, and do not feel qualified to give a conclusive answer. Can you assist? Thanks Daniel

I am confident the moth is Agrius cingulata, the pink-spotted hawkmoth. I think the larva is most likely Psilogramma menephron based on raised projections in two lines on dorsal thorax. I am fairly confident it is not Manduca blackburni, nor any other Manduca. A lateral view would be most helpful. Both the pink-spotted and blackburni larvae have a lateral stripe below the spiracles. The image does not provide a view of that portion of the larva. I also believe the spiracular marking in blackburni larvae are considerably larger and dark, not the relatively small ovals with red centers in the image supplied by Michael. I think blackburni is also only known from Maui and efforts to restore it would likely be only on that island. I will ask Jim Tuttle to have a look at the larva.
Bill Oehlke

Aloha Daniel & Bill.
Thank you for you input. Please refer to my Attachment of larvae and moth at the bottom of this email. You say that my moth is Agrius cingulatus or Pink Spotted Hawk Moth not Manduca blackburni or Blackburn’s Sphinx Moth. I will buy that, you are the experts!! What about the larvae? I took the shots of the larvae out on Mana Road the same day as I took the three moth shots in our kitchen’s green house window above the kitchen sink. Are the spots on the Manduca blackburni indeed orange where the spots on Agrius cingulatus are pink or is there a color rendition problem in the photos. Oh, I might add that we live in Waikoloa ten miles or less as the crow (moth!) flies from the North Kona the Blackburn’s Sphinx Moth population center near Pu`uwaawaa. Thank you,

Aloha Michael,
Your larva looks like Psilogramma menephron, though we are not experts in this group, and are unfamiliar with this moth. Your adult moth is not Manduca blackburnii, which has an orange ass, and is likely Agrius as mentioned below. We suggest the following book “Hawaii’s Butterflies and Moths”.
Forest & Kim

Letter 6 – Australian Sphinx Moth


Flash affected Sphinx
Hi Guys,
This moth flew in amongst some foliage and it was so dark I had to use the flash. The moth I think is a sphinx moth, macroglossum joannisi. The non flash colour was a steely grey with dark charcoal markings. Imagine my surprise when I downloaded the pic to find the flash had turned it into a rainbow of colour. Don’t know if it is possible to confirm the ID given its colour change. Taken January 2008 in Brisbane. regards,
Trevor Jinks

Hi Trevor,
We are going to agree that this is Macroglossum joannisi until someone proves otherwise.

Letter 7 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar Invasion


Hi, I’m Kayla from Flagstaff, Arizona. This morning my mom discovered these caterpillars, and we’re rather disturbed by them because we’ve picked up at least 560 of them, and still have more. I was wondering what kind of caterpillars these are, and how we could have gotten so many in a very short time. What should we do with all of them? Thanks.

Hi Kayla,
These are White Lined Sphinx Caterpillars, Hyles lineata. Yours is the third letter in a week from Arizona that mentions huge numbers of these caterpillars. This is a common desert species and every few years there is a population explosion. These are edible caterpillars, but should you choose not to eat them, they will provide a sumptuous feast for birds and other insectivores.

Letter 8 – Mystery Sphinx


Hello there! I have to start by saying what an impressive site you have! I am a fifth grade teacher in San Antonio Texas and my students happened to find this rather large caterpillar on their playground. They were very interested in it and want to keep it to see if it will grow into a butterfly or moth. We did some research on different caterpillars and compared them to what this one looks like. The closest match we could find was to the eyed hawk moth, but all references to the eyed hawk moth came from Europe. I found a moth that looks like the eyed hawk moth on your website called the Cerisy’s moth and searched the internet for pics of a cerisy’s caterpillar to no avail. We would really like to know what we have…. Our caterpillar is about 3 inches long and was found on the ground. He is lime green with diagonal white stripes and some pink dots (I think those are the spiracles) There are trees nearby and I think they are willow trees, but not positive. We put our little friend in an aquarium with a mesh top and some tree branches. It eats like crazy and seems to be happy with what we gave it. Can you identify him for us? We are hoping to see him turn into the moth before school gets out.
Christie and her very interested fifth graders.

Hi Christie and Students,
This is definitely a Sphinx Moth Caterpillar. We recommend Bill Oehlke’s awesome site, but it will take some major searching. We have seen this caterpillar before, but can’t put our finger on a name just yet. Meanwhile we will post until it is identified. Thanks for your touching letter.

Letter 9 – Rustic Sphinx Caterpillar, not Incense Cedar Sphinx


LARGE Caterpillar
Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 9:32 AM
I found this 8 inch long black caterpillar in my pool skimmer. It is the size of a cigar, has a green face and a green antennae poking up from it’s butt. And it stinks! We live in North Jeannine,
Phoenix, Arizona

Incense Cedar Sphinx Caterpillar
Incense Cedar Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Jeannine,
Though we question the exact size of your caterpillar, we will agree that Sphinx Moth Caterpillars can get quite large. We suspect this may be an Incense Cedar Sphinx Caterpillar, Sphinx libocedrus . Except for the color of the horn, it seems to match the dark form of
the caterpillar on Bill Oehlke’s website. We are going to copy Bill Oehlke on our reply as he is compiling comprehensive data on species distribution. We also hope he will confirm our identification.

Thank you for keeping me in check. I was so impressed with it’s size and smell, that I was too excited to remember to take a pic with a ruler. So you are quite right, it is “only” about 5 1/2 inches long. I’ve attached the pic I took this AM with my tape measure. And if you could copy me on Bill’s response to your e-mail, I would greatly appreciate it.
Thanks for the info!

I think it is an unusual dark Manduca rustica. I am going to send it and another similar one I received couple weeks ago, also from Arizona, to Jim Tuttle. Will let you know.
Bill Oehlke

Thanks Daniel,
Don’t know if I emailed you but Jim Tuttle has confirmed the dark larva found in swimming pool in Arizona as Manduca rustica.
Bill Oehlke

Letter 10 – Overkill: Sphinx Moth Sprayed to Death


Overkill: Sphinx Moth sprayed to death!!!
(08/15/2008) is it as dangerous as it looks?
my little brother saw this bug upside down on our porch in Italy. He killed it with wasp spray, so it’s all wet, which might make it a little harder to recognize. I hope you can still get an idea of what it is… Thanks a lot!

Sphinx Moth Exterminated
Sphinx Moth Exterminated

Hi Ester,
If ever the word “overkill” could be used regarding the use of pesticides, your photo ranks a close third after the global use of DDT and the statewide spraying of Malathion against the Med Fly in California in the 1980s. It appears your brother used an entire spray can of foaming pesticide to dispatch one harmless Sphinx Moth. This is textbook unnecessary carnage.

Letter 11 – Salicet Sphinx


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!

Bill Oehlke Makes Correction:  Salicet Sphinx July 9, 2014
On Jul 9, 2014, at 8:16 PM, Bill Oehlke wrote:
Smerinthus saliceti
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.

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
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.”

Letter 12 – Obscure Sphinxes, we believe


Subject: Insect in AZ
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
January 20, 2015 1:15 pm
I have 2 different photos that were taken in Scottsdale, AZ in Dec 2014. I think they are moths. These insects were gone the next day and have not been seen since. They were on our home and close to our grapefruit tree.
Signature: Stan

Obscure Sphinx
Obscure Sphinx

Dear Stan,
We believe these are Obscure Sphinxes,
Erinnyis obscura, or another species in the same genus.  The scalloped wing edges are distinctive.  This image on BugGuide looks very close, and additional images are on the Sphingidae of the Americas site.  We have written to Sphingidae expert Bill Oehlke for confirmation.

Obscure Sphinx
Obscure Sphinx

Bill Oehlke confirms genus, and provides options for species
They certainly appear to be Erinnyis species and could be obscura (note spelling). They could also be E. domingonis. I think there is some disagreement as to whether or not obscura and domingonis are synonymous or distinct species. I also could not rule out variation of E. ello. I would have to see hindwings in order to be more posititve. Markings on the thorax do not seem to be a positive match for any of the three species I mention. My first choice, if I had to make one, would be Erinnyis obscura.

One more thing Bill.  I was linking to the other species on your site and E. domingonis is not listed in Arizona.
Do you think that might still be a possibility?

Good point! E. domingonis, if it is a valid species, would  very unlikely be found in Arizona as closest location so far to AZ is Texas. The other two, though, are known from Arizona.

Letter 13 – It’s a Keeper: Cramer’s Sphinx visits WTB? in Mount Washington


Subject:  Cramer’s Sphinx still there at dawn
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
December 2, 2015

Cramer's Sphinx at dawn
Cramer’s Sphinx at dawn

Julian Donahue confirms Cramer’s Sphinx indentification
It is indeed Erinnyis crameri, an infrequent stray to SoCal from farther south (once bred on Vinca in Riverside–see my more extensive comments on WTB?).
Nice find, Daniel. The specimen should go to LACM, or at least be reported to iNaturalist AND the BAMONA website <http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/>, where the most recent Los Angeles County record is 1950!!

Subject:  This Moth made me late for a meeting.

Cramer's Sphinx with good Depth of Field
Cramer’s Sphinx at the porch light

Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Temperature:  54º F.  Light wind out of the North and low humidity.
December 1, 2015 11:00 PM.
So, we know that this is a Sphinx Moth in the genus
ErinnyasSphingidae of the Americas lists four members of the genus in California, and this is definitely NOT an Ello Sphinx.  The pattern on the forewings looks most like Cramer’s Sphinx, Erinnyis crameri, to us.  We have contacted Bill Oehlke to verify the species.  We worked really hard tonight, reshooting three times to first get a decent exposure and then to maximize depth of field.  We are quite proud of capturing this challenging image.
We can’t help but to wonder if El Niño might play a part in this sighting.

Ventral View of female Cramer's Sphinx
Ventral View of female Cramer’s Sphinx

December 2, 2015 12:39 AM
We couldn’t resist getting a ventral view of what we speculate is a female Cramer’s Sphinx.  We wonder if El Niño conditions are causing this typically Central and South American species to migrate North in an effort to expand their range in the event of global warming.

Bill Oehlke confirms ID
HI Daniel,
Yes, I am pretty sure it is crameri. Only other close one is oenotrus, but I favour crameri.
Thanks for thinking of me.

According to Sphingidae of the Americas “lacks black dots on the underside of abdomen” and even though the image is not the greatest, we still have the moth to inspect as it is still on the screen door at 6:42 AM.  There are no dots on the underside of the abdomen.  We would think that if this individual traveled a great distance, it would look more tattered than the individual that visited us, which looks more like a newly eclosed specimen.  There are only two postings on BugGuide, and one is from San Diego this September.


Letter 14 – Moro Sphinx from Lesbos


Subject:  Grey moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Lesbos
Date: 09/22/2017
Time: 07:43 AM EDT
Dear Daniel,
Many thanks for your help in the past.
I have another query for you and would appreciate you help as I wish to use the shot in a talk on Lesbos,
Best regsrds
How you want your letter signed:  William Smiton

Moro Sphinx

Dear William,
We quickly identified this Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae as
Macroglossum stellatarum thanks to the Moths and Butterflies of Europe and Northern Africa site where the common names are listed as Moro Sphinx or Sphinx du caille-lait. eImagesite has an image from Lesbos.

Letter 15 – Mating Sphinx Moths from Panama


Subject:  What is the name of this moth?
Geographic location of the bug:  David, Panamá (Central América)
Date: 09/25/2017
Time: 09:20 PM EDT
Hi. can you please help me to identify this moth… well or at least I think is a moth
How you want your letter signed:  MR

Mating Sphinx Moths: Adhemarius gannascus

Dear MR,
They are a pair of mating Sphinx Moths or Hawkmoths in the family Sphingidae, and we believe we have correctly identified them as
Adhemarius gannascus thanks to the Sphingidae of the Americas site where it states they: ” have been taken at lights in every month of the year in Costa Rica” which probably means they fly year round in Panama as well.  The species is also pictured on iNaturalist.

Hi Daniel.
Impressive, that was fast. Thank you very much to help me to identify this beautiful moth and his mate

Letter 16 – Another Cramer’s Sphinx in Mount Washington


Gentle Readers,
Since the onset of COVID-19, Daniel has been overwhelmed with computer based activities, including teaching college students online and running ZOOM meetings, and to maintain mindfulness as well as having a real sense of physical accomplishment, he has eschewed all leisurely contact with the computer, including responding to and posting your many submitted identification queries, and he has instead devoted time to being in contact with the earth, his garden and the diversity of wildlife and plants that share that space with him.  Please forgive his inattentions to this website he really does love so much.  He has not been troubled with ill health, either physical or mental.  He just feels the need to unplug, slow down and enjoy life.  While it is not much to look at, this tattered Cramer’s Sphinx is the second that has visited his porch recently, the first being a much more beautiful individual in 2015, and allegedly the first local sighting in 50 years. There are only three sightings on BugGuide, so this must really be a North American rarity.  In order to be certain of this identification, Daniel has consulted both Julian Donahue and Bill Oehlke.

Cramer’s Sphinx

Letter 17 – Bug Humanitarian Award: Streaked Sphinx rescued at drive through


Subject:  Sphinx Moth ? Maybe ??
Geographic location of the bug:  Titusville Florida
Date: 05/05/2021
Time: 06:20 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Photos of a gorgeous moth I think might be a Sphinx Moth
Rescued from a bully in a fast food drive thru hahaha
I sent a previous comment telling the story:  “I spotted a sphinx moth in titusville florida today may 6 2021. It was on a drive thru sign under the florescent lights.  I was waiting my turn to pay and saw that the driver of the car in line behind me, he was saw it too and seemed to be trying to kill the moth by try by swinging a old paper at it, reaching out their car window…
So I said Hey! Don’t do that, it isn’t harming you! And then I drove back around and got it off the post and relocated it to a nearby tree.  I have pictures I can share if you wish.”
I just couldn’t let it be killed for no reason at all so I put it on a nearby tree
( It was approximately 530am so I think it can get itself hidden before the birds get woken up & and the birds go looking for bugs to eat )
How you want your letter signed:  Tee Holden

Rescued Streaked Sphinx

Dear Tee,
We love your story and we pasted together your comment and your submission so our readers have have the entire story of how you saved this Streaked Sphinx from a bully at a drive through.  Because of your heroism, we are awarding you the Bug Humanitarian Award for the first time in well over a year and a half.  May we just add that the color scheme on your images is awesome.  It has been even longer that we have tagged a posting as a Buggy Accessory, but the moth and your purple nail polish is a fetching combination. And just because we can, we are also displaying your posting on our scrolling feature bar.

Streaked Sphinx

Awesome, thank you so much!
I was very glad to see that big beautiful Moth
And to be able to stop a bully from killing it was even better
Toniette Holden


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts
Tags: Sphinx Moths

Related Posts

6 Comments. Leave new

  • I have posted Arthur’s image of Eumorpha capronnieri, credited to him, to newly created Tobago Sphingidae page at
    Bill Oehlke
    If that is not okay, please advise, and I will remove the image.

    • That is fine with us Bill. We fully support your website as an authorized What’s That Bug? link. As far as we are concerned, you may keep the image posted unless Arthur feels otherwise.

  • Julian Donahue
    December 2, 2015 10:36 am

    Indeed, it is Cramer’s Sphinx (Erinnyis crameri), a tropical species that sporadically strays north into Southern California and southern Arizona. In the mid 1970s there was a naturally established breeding population on the campus of the University of California-Riverside, where the larvae fed on ornamental periwinkle (Vinca rosea, Apocynaceae). Since then it is has been occasionally reported as a stray in California. [source: Tuttle, James P. 2007. The Hawk Moths of North America. Wedge Entomological Research Foundation.] All known larval hostplants are in the Apocynaceae; besides Vinca, other commonly planted members of this family in Southern California include oleander (Nerium & Thevetia), and Plumeria. As the climate continues to warm it is reasonable to expect to see more southern species of insects occurring farther north, and this moth may once again be found breeding in SoCal.

  • How do i eradicate these caterpillars. My yard and home is getting covered by them and picking them up one at a time does not seem feasible.

  • Aww, thank you so much for rescuing him, I love saving insects and other critters, knowing that you just saved a life, no matter how small, can feel so accomplishing. Even if you’ve had a bad day, the knowledge that you’ve contributed to making another creature’s bad day into a much better one can raise your spirits too. Thank you again, Tee, and I hope you have more opportunities to do good like that


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed