Lime Hawk Moth Facts: Intriguing Insights into Their Unique World

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The Lime Hawk Moth is a fascinating insect with distinctive features and characteristics. This large, green moth sports a captivating appearance, easily standing out among other species of moths.

Known for its vibrant color, the Lime Hawk Moth has a pale or lime green hue, dark edge on its forewings, and a long, tapering tail on its hindwings. Additionally, each wing features an eyespot to deter predators. These eye-catching details make the Lime Hawk Moth a captivating subject for any nature enthusiast.

Lime Hawk Moth Overview

Scientific Name

The Lime Hawk Moth is scientifically known as Mimas tiliae. This moth species is categorized under the order Lepidoptera, which includes butterflies and moths.

Sphingidae Family

Mimas tiliae belongs to the Sphingidae family, commonly known as hawk moths or sphinx moths. They are recognized for their:

  • Large, heavy bodies
  • Long, pointed abdomens
  • Ability to hover near flowers for nectar feeding

The Sphingidae family comprises numerous moth species, including the Lime Hawk Moth.

Lime Hawk Moths display unique features such as:

  • Green camouflage resembling lime tree leaves
  • Distinctive markings for identification

Comparing Lime Hawk Moths to other hawk moth species:

Feature Lime Hawk Moth Other Hawk Moth Species
Camouflage Green Varies
Markings Distinctive Varies
Size Medium Medium to large
Caterpillar host plant Lime tree Various

The advantages of the Lime Hawk Moth’s behavior and adaptation include:

  • Effective camouflage to avoid predators
  • Hovering ability for efficient nectar feeding
  • Attraction to lime trees for mating and laying eggs

Some disadvantages of their behavior and adaptation are:

  • Limited habitat due to their reliance on lime trees
  • Vulnerability to habitat loss and other environmental factors

In conclusion, the Lime Hawk Moth is a fascinating member of the Sphingidae family, exhibiting unique features that enable it to thrive in its preferred environment, while also facing challenges that come with its specific lifestyle.

Physical Characteristics

Wings

The Lime Hawk Moth has a notable wingspan, typically ranging from 70 to 80 mm. Its forewings are unique in design, with a pinky-buff and green mix of colors. Meanwhile, the hindwings exhibit a red and brown coloration.

  • Wingspan: 70-80 mm
  • Forewing color: Pinky-buff and green
  • Hindwing color: Red and brown

Coloration

Lime Hawk Moths exhibit an array of colors on their wings and body. Their overall appearance consists of a blend of red, green, yellow, brown, and pinky-buff colors. This color combination helps them blend in with their surroundings and avoid predators.

  • Red
  • Green
  • Yellow
  • Brown
  • Pinky-buff

Antennae

The antennae of the Lime Hawk Moth are quite distinct. They are hairless and change in width gradually. Their shape allows the moth to detect scents and navigate the environment.

Comparison Table:

Feature Lime Hawk Moth
Wingspan 70-80 mm
Forewing Pinky-buff and green
Hindwing Red and brown
Coloration Red, green, yellow, brown, and pinky-buff
Antennae Hairless, with a gradual change in width

In summary, the Lime Hawk Moth has a striking appearance with unique physical characteristics, including a diverse color palette and hairless antennae.

Distribution and Habitat

Geographical Range

The Lime Hawk Moth (Mimas tiliae) is native to England, Wales, and other parts of the UK. It is also widespread across Europe, including regions like France, Germany, and Italy.

Urban and Rural Habitats

The Lime Hawk Moth can be found in various habitats, such as:

  • Parks: These moths often inhabit green spaces in urban areas.
  • Gardens: They can be found in both public and private gardens, benefiting from the abundance of food sources in these environments.
  • Woodlands: Lime Hawk Moths are also present in rural areas, thriving in woodlands where they can find ample shelter and food.

Naturally, these moths are attracted to tree trunks as they provide an ideal resting place for camouflage purposes. In urban areas, they are known to adapt well, often residing in gardens and parks. Although their main habitat consists of woodlands in rural areas, these adaptable moths can live comfortably in urban settings as long as there is an adequate presence of trees and foliage.

Habitat Examples Pros Cons
Parks Green spaces in urban environments Plenty of food sources Human disturbances
Gardens Public and private gardens Diverse vegetation Pesticide exposure
Woodlands Wooded areas in rural regions Ideal shelter Limited food variety

Lime Hawk Moth Life Cycle

Eggs

The Lime Hawk Moth begins its life cycle as an egg laid on the leaves of its host plants. The female moth can lay hundreds of eggs during her lifespan. These eggs are:

  • Small and spherical in shape
  • Yellow-green in color, turning brownish as they mature

Caterpillar Stage

After 7-10 days, the eggs hatch into larvae, also known as caterpillars. Lime Hawk Moth caterpillars have specific features:

  • Green body with white, purple, and reddish markings
  • A pronounced “horn” on their rear end
  • Host plants: lime, birch, elm, and other trees

The caterpillars actively feed on the leaves of their host plants and molt several times throughout their growth.

Pupa Stage

Once the caterpillar reaches its full size, it pupates in the soil. It forms a brown, tough chrysalis during this stage. Lime Hawk Moths overwinter in the pupal stage, ensuring they survive cold months in a protected state.

Adult Moth

In spring, the adult Lime Hawk Moths emerge from the chrysalis. As adults, they have certain characteristics:

  • Green and pinkish-brown wings with intricate patterns
  • Wingspan of 70-80 mm
  • Long proboscis to feed on nectar

Adult moths are most active at night and have a relatively short lifespan of a few weeks. This life cycle then starts anew with mating and egg-laying, usually producing one generation per year.

Feeding and Host Plants

Larval Foodplants

The Lime Hawk Moth (Mimas tiliae) is known for its preference of larval foodplants. As the name suggests, its primary host plant is:

  • Lime (Tilia spp.): Lime foliage provides the main source of nutrition for the larvae.

However, these caterpillars can also be found feeding on a variety of other trees:

  • Elm (Ulmus spp.)
  • Birch (Betula spp.)
  • Alder (Alnus spp.)
  • Plane (Platanus spp.)

These host plants offer the essential nutrients necessary for the larval growth and development.

Adults Feeding on Nectar

Adult Lime Hawk Moths rely on nectar as their primary source of nourishment. Their feeding habits revolve around flowers that provide an abundant supply of nectar. Some examples of flowers they commonly feed on include:

  • Honeysuckle
  • Evening primrose
  • Valerian

The Lime Hawk Moth’s long proboscis is well-adapted to reach deep into these flowers, efficiently extracting nectar. This method of feeding contributes to their role as pollinators, an essential aspect of maintaining ecosystem health.

Behavior and Mating

Nocturnal Activity

Lime Hawk Moths are nocturnal creatures, which means they are active at night. They are part of the sphinx moths family and are known for their fast and agile flight capabilities.

  • Sphinx moths can maintain high body temperatures to fly on cool nights.
  • They shiver to warm up for night-time activities.

Mating Rituals

Mating in Lime Hawk Moths involves a fascinating dance between the males and females.

  • Males detect female pheromones in the air to locate a potential mate.
  • Mating usually occurs during their nocturnal activity.

A comparison between male and female Lime Hawk Moths:

Male Female
Detects pheromones Releases pheromones
Flies fast to locate mate Waits for a mate to approach

In summary, Lime Hawk Moths showcase unique nocturnal behaviors and an interesting mating ritual. These fascinating creatures never cease to amaze with their agility and unique adaptations for survival.

Predators and Threats

The Lime Hawk Moth, like many other insects, faces various predators in its natural environment. One of the main predators of this moth are birds. Birds tend to prey on different life stages of the Lime Hawk Moth, including eggs, larvae, and adult moths1.

Hovering around flowers for nectar, Lime Hawk Moths participate in pollination2. This crucial role helps maintain a healthy ecosystem. However, habitat loss and human activities can negatively impact their population, leading to a decline in pollination services.

The conservation status of the Lime Hawk Moth is currently not a primary concern3. However, it’s essential to monitor their populations and ensure that their habitats remain protected to maintain a stable ecological balance.

Interesting Facts and Features

The Lime Hawk Moth (Mimas tiliae) is an intriguing and visually striking creature. Here are some interesting facts about these moths:

  • They belong to the family Sphingidae, which includes other hawk moth species.
  • Lime Hawk Moths are native to Europe and parts of Asia, including Yorkshire in the UK.

The appearance of Lime Hawk Moths is quite unique, with some features including:

  • Their caterpillars have a distinctive blue horn at the rear end.
  • Adult moths possess long, pointed forewings with attractive patterns.
  • They have bright green patches and yellow stripes on their wings, making them easily recognizable.

Carl Linnaeus, the famous naturalist, formally described Lime Hawk Moths in his 1758 work, Systema Naturae. As for their behavior and other characteristics:

  • Lime Hawk Moth caterpillars feed primarily on lime tree leaves but can also consume other tree species leaves.
  • Adult moths are nocturnal and are often drawn to artificial light sources.

When comparing Lime Hawk Moths to other butterflies and moths, some differences and similarities become apparent:

Feature Lime Hawk Moth Other Butterflies & Moths
Size Medium to large Varies from small to very large
Wings Long, pointed forewings Varies, often with rounded or irregular edges
Horn Blue horn on caterpillar Not present in most caterpillars

In summary, Lime Hawk Moths are unique, colorful creatures with fascinating features and behaviors.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/hawk_moths.shtml

  2. https://education.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/sphinx-moths-hawk-moths

  3. https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/science/new-hawk-moth-species-are-among-the-smallest-ever-discovered/

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 – Lime Hawkmoth in Pennsylvania: Exotic Introduction or Hoax???

 

what kind of moth is this please
Thu, Jul 2, 2009 at 1:48 PM
We had this moth at work 2 days ago sitting on the concrete most of the day and then hanging on the building for most of the night, then it was gone.
curious
northwest pa

Lime Hawk Moth
Lime Hawkmoth

Dear Curious,
This sure looks like a Lime Hawkmoth, Mimas tiliae, to us. The problem with this identification is that the Lime Hawkmoth is a European species and this sighting could indicate an accidental introduction. We are copying Bill Oehlke who does comprehensive species data on the family Sphingidae, as well as the United States Department of Agriculture new pest advisory group at npag@aphis.usda.gov because the introduction of a new species to an area outside of its typical range can have significant environmental consequences and it should be treated seriously. The ease with which new species can be introduced by humans to distant locations can have dire impacts on local indigenous populations. Thanks for your cooperation in this potentially seriously matter.

Confirmation of Identification
Sat, Jul 4, 2009 at 4:52 AM
Daniel,
I agree that your id of the western PA moth is M. tiliae, and that it does not belong there.
Bill Oehlke

Ed. Note:
Now that Bill Oehlke, and expert in Sphingidae, has established that this is in fact a Lime Hawkmoth, there are several additional questions raised. First there is the possibility that this is a hoax. Though we like to believe that our readership is ethical, the possibility always exists that someone out there has “gone rogue” and is playing a joke. Once we establish that that is not the case here, the next question is whether this is an isolated individual that somehow got introduced, or if it is part of a brood or the beginning of an actual, viable introduction. More sightings would be necessary to establish that. Since the climate of northwest Pennsylvania is not dissimilar to that of the UK, and since the food tree, Linden, is grown ornamentally in northeast Ohio, and probably also in northwest Pennsylvania, the possibility exists that a population of Lime Hawk Moths may become established and spread in North America. We hope our friends at the USDA are checking their email during the holiday weekend since we just received a request to notify them of any suspected introductions. If you see a Lime Hawkmoth in the eastern portion of North America, please contact us immediately and put the name Lime Hawkmoth in the subject line of your email. More importantly, please contact the USDA at
npag@aphis.usda.gov so the authorities will know of the sighting.

Update from Doug Yanega from the Entomology Research Museum at UC Riverside
Monday, July 13, 2009
Last Friday, while we were without a computer, Doug Yanega was kind enough to leave us a voice message regarding the Lime Hawk Moth sighting.  This is a paraphrase of the message he left:  The Lime Hawkmoth is already known from eastern canada so Pennsylvania is just the first time it has been sighted across the US border. Probably introduced carelessly or intentionally from someone has imported and was rearing Sphinx Moths from overseas.

Update from the USDA
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Hi again Daniel,
I just wanted you to know that we are still receiving emails concerning the Lime Hawk Moth and I’m enjoying how excited people are about this.
Can you post a short note that we at USDA need an actual specimen to submit it for official identification, not just a photo (although I have been enjoying the wonderful photos)? If someone is able to catch a specimen, they can email us at npag@aphis.usda.gov for the address to send it.
That would help us so much.
Stephanie Dubon
PS – have you squished all your Bagradas? I lost all my cucumbers to aphids this year 🙁 little buggers!

UPDATE: New Pest Advisory Group – Insects new to the United States
September 15, 2009
Hi Daniel,
I am once again hoping you can do one last update to the Mimas tiliae posting on your website (the one where it was found in Pennsylvania). I have finally been able to get ahold of someone in USDA that told me the official procedure:
If you have found a specimen (dead or still alive, any life stage, must be a specimen, not photos) the first step is to take the specimen to your state’s land grant university entomology department, cooperative extension office, or the state’s department of agriculture, who will then forward it to the appropriate authorities.
Can you please add this to your website? We are getting so many photos, but no one has found a specimen and now we know what the official procedure is if some are found.
Thanks so much and keep up the good work!
Stephanie M. Dubón
Coordinator and Pest Analyst
United States Department of Agriculture

UPDATE FROM APHIS: Procedure for alerting APHIS about new pests
July 8, 2010
Hi Daniel,
I think there has been some confusion  as to the correct procedure of alerting APHIS to potential invasive pests.  I know Stephanie Dubon asked you to contact her in the past, but she no longer works for the USDA.  Right now the best thing for people to do is to try and get the actual specimen and submit it to their state department of agriculture or to contact their county extension agency. They will then send the specimen on to APHIS.
Is it possible to remove Stephanie Dubon’s contact information from your website?  (See Lime Hawk Moth in PA postings).  We really appreciate the vigilance of everyone out there looking for potential invasive pests,  but unfortunately, there is very little we can do in our office.  Stephanie’s position was not filled and so there is no one to handle these kinds of emails anymore.  By far, the best thing to do, as I mentioned, is to go through the proper channels (i.e., through the state departments of agriculture and/or the county extension offices).
Thank you for your consideration.  We just don’t want people to become frustrated waiting for a response.
Sincerely,
The New Pest Advisory Group

Letter 2 – One Eyed Sphinx Caterpillar, NOT Lime Hawkmoth Caterpillar in Washington State???

 

Subject:  Green Worm?
Geographic location of the bug:  Spokane, WA
Date: 08/14/2021
Time: 02:11 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  found this little guy hiding in the lower crevice underneath my sliding door to the backyard. small enough to fit under the door entirely. i couldn’t see any legs and it seems to only move by flexing its body like a worm. thicker (and greener) than a worm, however. reacted a little to simply blowing in it but it didn’t react when i tapped it with a toothpick (not the sharp sides, i don’t wanna hurt it). no bigger than my index finger in length
How you want your letter signed:  Connor S.

One Eyed Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Connor,
This is not a Worm.  It is a Caterpillar, more specifically a Hornworm, a caterpillar of a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth in the family Sphingidae.  Now comes the interesting part.  It sure looks like the caterpillar of a Lime Hawkmoth,
Mimas tiliae, but that is a European species that is pictured on Wildlife Insight.  12 years ago we posted a sighting of a Lime Hawkmoth in Pennsylvania and through that posting we learned that Lime Hawkmoths have already been reported in eastern Canada.  Doug Yanega, an entomologist at UC Riverside informed us:  “The Lime Hawkmoth is already known from eastern canada so Pennsylvania is just the first time it has been sighted across the US border. Probably introduced carelessly or intentionally from someone who has imported and was rearing Sphinx Moths from overseas.”  According to iNaturalist:  ” the lime hawk-moth, is a moth of the family Sphingidae. It is found throughout the Palearctic region and the Near East, and has also been identified in eastern Canada and in northern Spain (Europe).”  Twelve years have passed since that posting and it is entirely possible that the Lime Hawkmoth has either expanded its North American range across the continent or that it hitched across the country with tourists.  We might be wrong in our identification.  Perhaps Dr. Bostjan Dvorak or another specialist in the family Sphingidae will either confirm or correct our tentative identification.  If we are correct, this might be a first sighting in Washington as we are unable to locate any information on its presence there.

Update:  August 22, 2021
Thanks to a comment from Bostjan Dvorak, we have been informed that this is a One Eyed Sphinx Caterpillar, not a Lime Hawkmoth Caterpillar.

Letter 3 – Mating Lime Hawkmoths from Switzerland

 

Moth ID
Hi guys, My daughter Rosie and son Sam saw these moths on our door today…initially we thought they were leaves. We have tried to find a similar image on your site, and although it looks a little like a Pandora Sphinx moth we are not sure. This photo is from Duillier in Switzerland. We hope you can help with the ID. Thanks
Duncan, Switzerland

Hi Duncan,
The Pandora Sphinx does not range into Europe. These mating Sphinxes are Mimas tiliae commonly called Lime Hawk-moths. More information and images can be found on Moths and Butterflies of Europe and North Africa and the UK Moths page. Lime refers to a favored larval food plant, the Linden Tree which is commonly called a Lime Tree.

Letter 4 – Lime Hawk Moth

 

Moth
Hello Bugman,
Can you help me identify this moth which I found in my garden, I live in the UK.
Thanks
Simon

Hi Simon,
A little web research and we located your lovely Sphinx Moth, the Lime Hawk Moth. Lime is probably a reference to the color since the food plants are listed as “Tilia ,Prunus ,Betula ,B. verrucosa ,Alnus glutinosa ,A. incana ,Ulmus glabra” on this site with nice images. We located an additional site with much information.

Update (04/11/2006) Anita and the Sphinx!!!
lime sphinx additional note, and an image for fun! Dear Bugman
What a gift you are to us all, and to bugs and the buggable everywhere! I have a quick comment to add to your ID on Jan 03 of this year of a Lime Sphinx seen by a UK resident. Actually, the “lime” in the name IS a reference to the food plant: Tilia cordata, what we in US call Little-leaf Linden, is native to the UK, where it is a Little Leaf Lime. All the Lindens are called “Limes” on the other side of the pond, I have no idea why since no relation to the citrus fruit that I can figure out… may be an interesting story behind that! And for fun, here is me (on a bad hair day!) on my father’s front deck in Cecil County, Maryland with a sphinx moth, prob. Eumorpha pandorus, freshly emerged with nice color tho you can’t see much detail in this shot…
Best,
Anita

Thanks for the update and clarification Anita. We are running your photo on the homepage now and it will remain with the original letter you cited.

Letter 5 – Mating Lime Hawkmoths from Switzerland

 

Moth ID
Hi guys, My daughter Rosie and son Sam saw these moths on our door today…initially we thought they were leaves. We have tried to find a similar image on your site, and although it looks a little like a Pandora Sphinx moth we are not sure. This photo is from Duillier in Switzerland. We hope you can help with the ID. Thanks
Duncan, Switzerland

Hi Duncan,
The Pandora Sphinx does not range into Europe. These mating Sphinxes are Mimas tiliae commonly called Lime Hawk-moths. More information and images can be found on Moths and Butterflies of Europe and North Africa and the UK Moths page. Lime refers to a favored larval food plant, the Linden Tree which is commonly called a Lime Tree.

Letter 6 – Lime Hawkmoth from England

 

Weird green flying insect
Hi there,
I live in manchester uk and my daughter seen this strange looking insect whilst walking home from college. Ive never seen anything like it before and cant find anything even resembling it. do you know what it is please as im really curious now. Many Thanks
Rachael

hi Rachael,
This is a Lime Hawkmoth, Mimas tiliae. If you want additional information, visit the UK Moths website.

Letter 7 – Lime Hawkmoth

 

Moth
Wed, May 6, 2009 at 6:16 AM
This was seen on a brick wall in Canterbury Kent, UK. We are trying to find out what type of moth it is (if it is a moth!) Can you help?
Tom
Canterbury, UK

Lime Hawkmoth
Lime Hawkmoth

Hi Tom,
We believe this is the second time we have received a photo of the Lime Hawkmoth, Mimas tiliae.  The common name is derived from the food tree, the Linden, which is called the Lime Tree in England.  According to UK Moths, According to that website it is:  “A reasonably common species in the southern half of Britain, it was most frequent in the London area, where there are still extensive tree-lined avenues. In recent years its distribution has spread northwards and is now regularly found well into North Yorkshire and beyond. ”  We believe the range expansion is due to global warming.

Letter 8 – Lime Hawkmoth from The Netherlands

 

Beautiful moth
Sun, May 10, 2009 at 11:34 AM
Hello,
I discovered a beautiful, green moth near the front door this afternoon. I live in the Netherlands and I’ve never spotted a moth like this. Could you tell me what kind of moth this is? And is it common in the area I live in? Thank you very much.
Martijn Wagenaar
Harlingen, The Netherlands

Lime Hawkmoth
Lime Hawkmoth

Hi Martijn,
This is the second photo we posted this week of a Lime Hawkmoth, Mimas tiliae.  The first example was from England.  You can read more about this lovely moth on the UK Moths website.

Letter 9 – Lime Hawkmoth from England

 

It looks like a fighter plane
Sun, Jun 21, 2009 at 12:55 AM
this was spotted in london last night whilst filling my car with fuel. it looks like a mini stealth fighter plane with a thick scorpion like stinger on its back. it wasnt bothered by me being there and remained totally still.
very creepy, never seen anything as aggressive looking as this, it had defined camouflage patterns and a a streamlined look.
what is it, how rare is it? should i have put it in a jar and kept it?
David
London, England

Lime Hawk Moth
Lime Hawk Moth

Hi David,
This is a Lime Hawkmoth, Mimas tiliae, and according to the UKMoths Website it is:  “A reasonably common species in the southern half of Britain, it was most frequent in the London area, where there are still extensive tree-lined avenues. In recent years its distribution has spread northwards and is now regularly found well into North Yorkshire and beyond. ”  The larvae, which are known as Hornworms, feed on lime, alder, birch and elm tree leaves.  We do not believe you should have put it in a jar and kept it.  Though we are not opposed to keeping insects in jars long enough to observe them, we believe they are best when left in the wild.  We have had other members of the Sphinx or Hawk Moth family Sphingidae referred to as stealth bombers because of their appearance.

Letter 10 – Lime Hawkmoth from England

 

Is this a Tiger Moth?
July 21, 2009
I spotted this moth on a waste bin in London’s Docklands mid morning in may this year. After stopping our van assistant from kicking it,I took this photo of it. A knowall (we all know one!) told me it was a Tiger moth. However no pictures I have found of a Tiger moth have the same delta shape wing. It was about 4 inches across from tip to tip. Can you tell me what species of moth it is?
Alan Kent England
East London England

Lime Hawkmoth
Lime Hawkmoth

Hi Alan,
This is a Lime Hawkmoth, Mimas tiliae.  According to UKMoths, it is a common species in the southern half of Britain.  We recently had a sighting in Pennsylvania, and there is documentation that the species has been sighted in Canada as well.  This probably represents an accidental introduction or possibly an intentional release from captivity raised specimens.  When we asked our readership to notify us of any additional North American sightings, we began to receive letters with photos of a similar appearing species  without the scalloped wing edges, the Pandora Sphinx, Eumorpha pandorus, which were mistaken for the Lime Hawkmoth.

Letter 11 – Lime Hawkmoth from Spain

 

Unidentified sphinx moth
June 9, 2010
This beautiful animal just happened to enter through our window.
I am unable to identify it further than to say it is a sphinx moth.
Thanks!
Joaquim
Spain (north east)

Lime Hawkmoth

Hi Joaquim,
You encountered a Lime Hawkmoth, Mimas tiliae, a species that has an extensive profile on the Sphingidae of the Western Palaearctic website which states:  “On the Iberian Peninsula this species is recorded from northern Spain and northern Portugal, with a small population in the mountains of central Spain (Pérez De-Gregorio et al., 2001). However, Rambur (1942) records a single individual from Malaga, Spain, but it’s status in this area requires confirmation.
”  We are planning ahead for a trip we will be taking next week to Ohio, and we are presetting your letter and photo to post during our absence between June 15 and June 23 so that our readership will continue to get daily updates to the website.

Letter 12 – Pandora Sphinx, not Lime Hawkmoth

 

LIme Hawk Moth
July 7, 2010
We found this moth Sat, July 3, inside my house. Photographed it and have the speciman. Have not seen any others. Saw your postings from last year, and thought it might be interesting to you.
Joyce
Joyce
Flint Hill, VA

Pandora Sphinx

Hi Joyce,
We have gotten several emails inquiring if a native Pandora Sphinx,
Eumorpha pandorus, like the one in your photo might be a nonnative Lime Hawk Moth.  The coloration of the two species is similar, but the markings are quite different.  You can read more about the Pandora Sphinx on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website, and you can see our own report of a Lime Hawkmoth in Pennsylvania from last year.  We suspect that APHIS is also getting emails from our readership, because the following request just came our way.

UPDATE FROM APHIS: Procedure for alerting APHIS about new pests
July 8, 2010
Hi Daniel,
I think there has been some confusion  as to the correct procedure of alerting APHIS to potential invasive pests.  I know Stephanie Dubon asked you to contact her in the past, but she no longer works for the USDA.  Right now the best thing for people to do is to try and get the actual specimen and submit it to their state department of agriculture or to contact their county extension agency. They will then send the specimen on to APHIS.
Is it possible to remove Stephanie Dubon’s contact information from your website?  (See Lime Hawk Moth in PA postings).  We really appreciate the vigilance of everyone out there looking for potential invasive pests,  but unfortunately, there is very little we can do in our office.  Stephanie’s position was not filled and so there is no one to handle these kinds of emails anymore.  By far, the best thing to do, as I mentioned, is to go through the proper channels (i.e., through the state departments of agriculture and/or the county extension offices).
Thank you for your consideration.  We just don’t want people to become frustrated waiting for a response.
Sincerely,
The New Pest Advisory Group

Thanks so much for the correct ID, guess I just could not find it in my books, so went on line and only found the Lime HM, not the Pandora Sphinx.  And though it was different, it seemed to be the closest. I really appreciate your site and the ability to get a correct ID for us out in the field.
Joyce

Letter 13 – Lime Hawkmoth in the Netherlands

 

strange butterfly thing?
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
June 3, 2011 4:19 pm
I live in Amsterdam and have a small garden in front of my house. The other day June 1st, I came home to find this attached to the fence around the garden. I tried to find it on goggle using key words and found nothing. I’m super curious. Maybe you could help!
Signature: Gideon Amsterdam

Lime Hawkmoth

Dear Gideon,
This is a common European moth known as the Lime Hawkmoth,
Mimas tiliae, and you may read about it on the UK Moths website.  Several years ago we reported a sighting of a Lime Hawkmoth in Pennsylvania that created quite a stir.

Wow! you responded so quickly. Thank you very much for you answer. I must say I’m a bit upset, I thought maybe it was new creature that only I had ever seen….
Pretty non the less. Thank you again!

Hi again Gideon,
There is no need to be upset.  Sometimes very common species are rare locally.  If you have never seen a Lime Hawkmoth before, it may be because its food plant did not exist in your vicinity, but that recently linden trees (called lime trees in the UK)  have been planted.  We feel it is wonderful to have common insects we have never seen before appear in our garden, provided they are not exotic introduces species that might wreak havoc on our local ecosystem.

Letter 14 – Lime Hawkmoth from the UK

 

Subject: interesting moth
Location: settled on a door step in preston lancs
May 27, 2014 1:56 pm
today i saw a moth that had markings exactly as a camoflouge i. e. same as for example a army camaflouged suit
Signature: anyway

Lyme Hawkmoth
Lime Hawkmoth

Dear anyway,
This Lime Hawkmoth,
Mimas tiliae, is a relatively common species in the UK.  You can read more about it on UK Moths.

Letter 15 – Lime Hawkmoth from Poland

 

Subject: What kind of moth is that
Location: Poland
May 31, 2015 12:48 pm
I found this moth ( I think it’s moth) today in my mom garden and I just wondering what kind of moth is that. Thank You Sylvia
Signature: Don’t matter

Lime Hawkmoth
Lime Hawkmoth

This beautiful Hawkmoth is a Lime Hawkmoth, Mimas tiliae, and according to the UK Moths site:  “A reasonably common species in the southern half of Britain, it was most frequent in the London area, where there are still extensive tree-lined avenues. In recent years its distribution has spread northwards and is now regularly found well into North Yorkshire and beyond.”

Lime Hawkmoth
Lime Hawkmoth

Letter 16 – Lime Hawkmoth from England

 

Subject: Found this at work. York, England.
Location: York, England
August 30, 2015 3:57 am
I found this little dude asleep at work. He crawled onto my hand and sat for ages before I put him on a bush outside. I’ve never seen anything like this guy! He was big for English moths!
Signature: Laura, England

LIme Hawkmoth
LIme Hawkmoth

Hi Laura,
This beauty is a Lime Hawkmoth,
Mimas tiliae, and according to UK Moths:  “A reasonably common species in the southern half of Britain, it was most frequent in the London area, where there are still extensive tree-lined avenues. In recent years its distribution has spread northwards and is now regularly found well into North Yorkshire and beyond.”

Letter 17 – Pandorus Sphinx, NOT Lime Hawkmoth

 

Subject:  Lime Hawk Moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Tappahannock VA.. USA
August 29, 2017 6:07 AM
I spotted this moth at the entrance to a busy store in Tappahannock VA.. Northern Neck of VA.. I picked it up and released it in a nearby wooded area.. is it a Lime Hawk Moth ??
How you want your letter signed:  Sharon Fine

Pandorus Sphinx

Dear Sharon,
The Lime Hawkmoth is a European species.  We did receive a report once of a Lime Hawkmoth in Pennsylvania, but your individual is a Pandorus Sphinx, a native species.

Letter 18 – Virginia Creeper Sphinx, NOT Lime Hawkmoth

 

Subject:  Lime hawk moth sighting?
Geographic location of the bug:  New Hartford NY
Date: 06/30/2021
Time: 10:49 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this moth resting on a trash can outside of a mall after a big storm this evening. I think it looks like a lime hawk moth though they are supposed to be just in the UK. What do you think?
How you want your letter signed:  Laura Broccoli

Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Dear Laura,
The Lime Hawkmoth is native to Europe, and though there has been at least one North American sighting, we do not believe the species has naturalized.  This is a native Virginia Creeper Sphinx.

Authors

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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Tags: Hawk Moth

Related Posts

46 Comments. Leave new

  • England huh? Well I think their habitat has expanded a little bit haha! See this link: http://picasaweb.google.com/mrmunka/LimeHawkMoth?feat=directlink

    This was taken in Springfield Oregon, USA on June 21-22 2009

    Reply
  • Teena Carper
    July 16, 2009 9:28 pm

    Hello, I was on my porch today and seen a strange Moth, It was on the brick of my house it looks just like the pictures of the Lime Hawk Moth. I looked at pictures all day on line of differant moths and this is the only one that looks like it. I have a Picture of it and have keep the moth in a container to show. It looks camouflaged if you place it near a leaf or tree. Quiet unique indeed.

    Reply
    • Hi Teena,
      Without seeing a photo, we are reluctant to say you have a Lime Hawk Moth. We are more inclined to believe you saw a Pandora Sphinx.

      Reply
  • Teena Carper
    July 16, 2009 9:30 pm

    Guess It would help to Say I am from Indiana, Never seen anything like it.

    Reply
  • Celticgirlintexas
    July 27, 2009 4:21 pm

    I found one of these on my balcony this last Friday in Lewisville, TX.

    Reply
  • Celticgirlintexas
    July 28, 2009 1:18 pm

    I found one of these on my Balcony. It’s a Lime Hawk Moth. I live in Dallas, Texas. I can take a picture of it if you need one.

    Reply
  • I also haqve to agree that these are way out of there habitat. I found one on my porch and I live in Kentucky.

    Reply
  • We saw one of these this summer in New Philadelphia Ohio.
    Never had seen one before either. Now I wish I had taken a pic for proof!
    It was VERY large. Id guess 5″ long and 3 wide
    This bug is NO HOAX

    Reply
  • after viewing the Pandora Sphinx pics it could have been that too ! SORRY

    Reply
    • Thanks for your input. The Pandora Sphinx is easy to confuse with the Lime Hawkmoth, but they have ranges that do not overlap. We do not believe the Lime Hawkmoth has been established in North America.

      Reply
  • Hi, there. I’m Tom with the Chester Co., PA Master Gardener program. We received an email with attached photo suggesting that this is a Lime Hawkmoth. It was captured here in Chester Co.

    To what email address should I send this photo in order to get a positive identification and record the presence of the moth to those interested?

    Reply
  • I know this is an old post I am responding to but I believe I have a pic of the Lime- bug from here in NE PA. If needed, you may contact me at this e mail add for the pic.

    Reply
  • I have a live Lime Hawkmoth that was found here in Harrisburg, Pa. I have lived here all my life and I have never seen this type of moth. What should I do with it?

    Reply
  • Saw and identified and photographed a Lime Hark moth in Mamaroneck, N.Y. which is in lower Westchester County. It seems that they have been moving north from P.A.

    Reply
  • I’ve had one on my porch for the past two days. Thought he was seeking shelter from all the rain we’ve been having in Macungie, PA.

    Reply
  • July 22,2014
    This morning I found this beautiful moth. I of course seen it before when I was younger. I live in a very small town between Leesport Pa and Hamburg Pa. I was very interested in knowing what this was exactly and I am glad to have found this site and just wanted to let anyone know that yes they are in Berks County.

    Reply
    • The Lime Hawkmoth, to the best of our knowledge, has not naturalized in the New World. It is more likely you encountered a Pandora Sphinx, especially since you remember them as a child.

      Reply
  • If I could find out how to put a picture up I would be glad to share it.

    Reply
  • Kehrt Reyher

    Reply
  • Jason Lettie
    June 14, 2015 5:30 pm

    I have one in west Virginia on my truck tire exact same moth

    Reply
  • Found this month on Couer D Alene Lake in Idaho on August 8th, 2015. It was sitting on wood railing all day and was gone by morning. Willing to send the pictures taken, if desired.

    Reply
  • Audrey Luetters
    September 12, 2015 6:40 am

    The huge moth that hung on our screen door yesterday for a few hours was exactly like the one the man saw at the gas station. The amazing thing was that he was so naturally cammo
    colored. I took pics on my cell phone but have no idea of how to transfer it to the computer! His head looked like the British airplane looked head-on. Looking down it looked like he had horns on the back of his wings. Never saw anything like it.
    Easton, MD USA

    Reply
  • Audrey Luetters
    September 12, 2015 6:40 am

    The huge moth that hung on our screen door yesterday for a few hours was exactly like the one the man saw at the gas station. The amazing thing was that he was so naturally cammo
    colored. I took pics on my cell phone but have no idea of how to transfer it to the computer! His head looked like the British airplane looked head-on. Looking down it looked like he had horns on the back of his wings. Never saw anything like it.
    Easton, MD USA

    Reply
  • Carolyn Wolfe
    July 21, 2018 11:33 am

    Lime Hawkmoth -photographed one this morning (7-21-18) here in PA ZIP 17860- it was on a small maple tree leaf. It’s still there on the leaf as of 2:30 this afternoon….

    Reply
  • Colleen Smith
    August 15, 2021 5:16 pm

    I found one today in my backyard in Morton, WA. 8/15/2021

    Reply
  • I found one just yesterday in Washington too! I was sitting under a willow tree when I heard a plop and saw it on the ground. Now I wish I took a better picture of it…

    Reply
  • Dr. Bostjan Dvorak
    August 20, 2021 9:55 am

    Dear Bugman, dear Connor, dear Colleen, dear Sprig,

    Thank You very much for sharing this fascinating observation and all the information about similar findings, on this great site! – Whatsthatbug has essentially contributed and greatly contributes to the knowledge about autochthonous and introduced insect species.
    The Lime Hawkmoth (Mimas tiliae) has indeed been reported from several places of the northern New World as an introduced species in the last decennies, mainly from a few cities in USA and Canada; as many imported organisms, it is most likely to be found in rather urban biotopes – which can also be assumed for its homeland, where it preferably follows avenues planted with lime trees within urban centres (as a synanthropic species), a tendency observed in the last centuries in European cities (eg. Berlin) – besides its natural occurrence in “undisturbed” landscapes.
    The caterpillar on the photo shows quite some similarity with that of the Lime Hawkmoth indeed (the water green ground color, the lateral stripes and the bluish horn); however, in the genus Mimas, the rear end of the caterpillar is marked by a characteristic group of prominent colorful tubercles (as on my added photo of a larva found on Potsdamer Platz in Berlin some years ago), which are missing in this individual (smooth anal part); additionally, this caterpillar’s white pattern is adorned with two straight dorso-lateral lines – completely missing in Mimas as well, but typically occurring in caterpillars of the Nearctic branch of the genus Smerinthus – indicating that the caterpillar in question belongs to that genus; as the palaearctic species Smerinthus ocellata (European One-Eyed Sphinx) lacks those lines, and these are less intensive in the eastern nearctic species, the photo shows an individual of Smerinthus ophthalmica, the Western One-Eyed Sphinx (on its pupating march, with the colors already changed). This also correlates with the information about records on willow trees (Salix) in Washington. – Pupating Mimas tiliae larvae are of a rather greyish (ventrally rosy) base color, much smaller (contracted) and strongly rounded – and very difficult to see on paved (asphalted) ground…

    Thus, the bluish-green caterpillar on the photo is of the Western One-Eyed Sphinx, Smerinthus ophthalmica. It is part of the rich natural fauna of Your region – together with other species from 4 authochthone genera of the Smerinthinae tribe – Smerinthus, Paonias, Amorpha and Pachysphinx – from which the last three are only represented in the New World, whereas Mimas was originally only represented in the Old World…

    Best regards over the sea,
    Bostjan

    Reply
    • Thanks for your extensive comment Bostjan. We will update the posting.

      Reply
    • Kristina Paylor
      September 24, 2021 11:33 pm

      I found one on my corkscrew willow last week; I live near the Southworth Ferry Dock, Port Orchard, WA. I have a good close-up photo 3-4 minute video but not sure how/where to post it.

      Reply
  • Burlington, wa. Found one yesterday. Trying to find put when they start to change? This one likes to tunnel into the ground. Actually found it underground.

    Reply
  • Found one crawling on my shoulder after mowing under our willows. Anacortes Wa 10/22/21. Never seen one before this. Have pictures available.

    Reply
  • Found one today at Greenlake area in Seattle Washington. Bright blue spike and looks exactly like the one in the picture. About 2 inches. Lots of willow trees nearby.

    Reply
  • Found one 8/25/22 in Renton WA. About 2.5 inches in length, under willow tree in backyard. I have two photos and a video.

    Reply
  • Found one 8/25/22, in Renton Washington, in our backyard under the willow tree. About 2.5 inches in length. Have several photos and a video.

    Reply
  • I just found one today, 9/23/22, Longbranch, WA. In my back yard trying to crawl up one of my tall evergreens. I wish I took photos, but my cat was trying to play with it so I had to move it to another location.

    Reply

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