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.
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 [email protected] 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
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
n[email protected] 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 [email protected] 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.
The New Pest Advisory Group

29 thoughts on “Lime Hawkmoth in Pennsylvania: Exotic Introduction or Hoax???”

  1. 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

    • 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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….


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