Small Eyed Sphinx Moth: Essential Guide for Enthusiasts

The small-eyed sphinx moth is a fascinating creature you might come across in your garden or while exploring the outdoors. These intriguing moths belong to the Sphingidae family, known for their unique characteristics and behaviors. As a nature enthusiast, learning about the small-eyed sphinx moth will enhance your understanding of these captivating insects.

One of the most notable features of small-eyed sphinx moths is their size and appearance. These large, heavy-bodied moths are equipped with a long, pointed abdomen, which helps them hover near flowers to feed on nectar through their long proboscis. Moreover, the caterpillars of these moths, known as hornworms, display an interesting behavior of resembling the shape of a sphinx when at rest on a branch, hence deriving their name.

Some gardeners may have crossed paths with the small-eyed sphinx moth’s larval stage, often found on fruit plants. Knowing how to identify these moths and their caterpillars, as well as understanding their natural behaviors, will help you appreciate their role in your local ecosystem and possibly even develop better gardening practices to accommodate them.

Understanding Small-Eyed Sphinx Moth

Scientific Classification

The Small-eyed Sphinx Moth is a fascinating creature belonging to the insect kingdom, Animalia. It’s a member of the insect class Insecta, which is under the phylum Arthropoda and it falls within the order Lepidoptera, containing both moths and butterflies. This specific moth species is a part of the sphinx moths family.

Physical Characteristics

Small-eyed Sphinx Moths have some distinct features that set them apart from other types of moths:

  • Their body is quite heavy and robust.
  • They possess a long, pointed abdomen.
  • Their wings are decorated with beautiful patterns and colors.

These characteristics help Small-eyed Sphinx Moths blend into their surroundings, making it easier for them to evade predators.

Moth Vs Butterfly

Although moths and butterflies share some similarities, they also have key differences:

Feature Moths Butterflies
Antennae Feathery Smooth with a club end
Wings Wider and more rounded Narrower and more pointed
Wing Position Open at rest Closed over the back
Activity Period Mainly nocturnal Mainly diurnal
Colors Duller, earthy tones Brighter, more vivid hues

Now that you know about the Small-eyed Sphinx Moth’s scientific classification, physical characteristics, and key differences between moths and butterflies, you have a better understanding of this fascinating species. Remember to keep exploring the world around you, and always stay curious about the creatures you come across!

Habitat Details

Geographical Distribution

The Small-eyed Sphinx Moth can be found in a wide range of habitats throughout North America, including Canada, the United States, and Mexico. They have a preference for wooded habitats, making their homes in forests and woodlands across the continent. Their range spans from California to Florida and even reaches as far north as Illinois and Louisiana. For example, you might find them in the forests of California or among the trees in Louisiana.

Preferred Living Conditions

These moths thrive in areas with plenty of trees, where they can find their preferred food sources such as willow, cherry, and birch trees. In general, Small-eyed Sphinx Moths prefer:

  • Temperate climates
  • Wooded or forested areas
  • Access to their preferred host plants

They are most active during the night, often flying erratically around sources of light, such as porch lights or streetlights. If you’re looking to create a more moth-friendly environment in your own yard, consider including plants that cater to their needs and enjoy spotting these interesting insects when they visit your garden.

Moth Behavior

Small-eyed sphinx moths are fascinating creatures with unique behaviors that set them apart from other moths. One key characteristic is their nocturnal habits. Much like their fellow sphinx moth species, small-eyed sphinx moths are active during the night. This means you can observe them primarily in the dark, making use of moonlight or artificial light sources to find food and mates.

Their flying behavior is also impressive, as they’re known for their agility and speed. These moths can hover like hummingbirds near flowers, making them efficient pollinators. Here are a few interesting aspects of small-eyed sphinx moth behavior:

  • Nocturnal: active during nighttime hours, helping them avoid daytime predators
  • Flying: skilled at hovering near flowers, making it easier to collect nectar
  • Pollinators: play an essential role in the plant ecosystem by transferring pollen from one flower to another

When it comes to small-eyed sphinx moth behavior, you can expect these insects to be active and efficient pollinators during the night. Their unique flying abilities allow them to hover near flowers and contribute to the overall health of our environment. So, the next time you spot a small-eyed sphinx moth in your surroundings, appreciate their beauty and the vital role they play in nature.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Caterpillar Stage

During the caterpillar stage, the small eyed sphinx moth’s diet mainly consists of leaves from various plant species. Some of their favorites include:

  • Poplars (Populus species)
  • Cherry (Prunus species)
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus species)
  • Grape (Vitis species)
  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier species)
  • Basswood (Tilia species)
  • Birches (Betula species)

As a caterpillar, you’ll find them feeding on these plants to grow and prepare for the next stage of their life cycle.

Adult Stage

Once they become fully-grown moths, their diet changes. Adult small eyed sphinx moths primarily feed on nectar. This sweet liquid provides the energy they need for their active lifestyle.

Here’s a comparison of the diets between the caterpillar and adult stage:

Stage Diet
Caterpillar Leaves from poplars, cherry, hawthorn, grape, serviceberry, basswood, and birches.
Adult Nectar from various flowers.

In summary, the small eyed sphinx moth’s diet varies between its life stages. Caterpillars feed on the leaves of several plant species, while adult moths focus on nectar for energy. By understanding their feeding habits, you can better appreciate their role in the ecosystem and their interactions with various plant species.

Reproduction Cycle

Moth Mating

When it comes to the mating process of small eyed sphinx moths, both the males and females play pivotal roles. The males release a pheromone that attracts the females, who then choose their partners for mating. Once they’ve coupled, the mating process can last for several hours. It’s important to remember that this specific mating behavior happens mainly during the night.

Larvae Growth

After mating, female small eyed sphinx moths lay their eggs on suitable host plants. When these eggs hatch, the tiny larvae emerge and begin feasting on the leaves of their host plant. As the larvae grow, they go through a series of instar stages, molting and increasing in size each time. Keep in mind that these caterpillars can grow pretty large before they reach their final instar stage.

Once fully grown, the larvae will transform into a pupa. This phase is a resting stage, where the caterpillar undergoes a significant transformation to become an adult moth. The pupae usually form underground or on the surface of the soil, depending on the specific species. This stage can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months, depending on factors like environmental conditions.

As an adult moth, the small eyed sphinx moth has a relatively short life span. During this time, their primary focus is on mating and laying eggs. The cycle begins anew as the next generation of moths continues the reproduction process.

Unique Features

Color Variations

Small-eyed sphinx moths exhibit a fascinating range of color variations in their appearance. You may observe them in shades of white, black, brown, blue, yellow, and orange. Each individual’s coloration can greatly vary dependent on factors such as geographical location and the specific subspecies.

For instance, certain small-eyed sphinx moths have a vibrant orange stripe on their thorax or stunning blue eyespots on their hindwings. Others may feature yellow angled lines or wavy patterns on their forewings and hindwings.

Eyespot Patterns

The eyespot patterns found on small-eyed sphinx moths are truly captivating. These patterns serve as a valuable defense mechanism: when threatened, the moths can exhibit their eyespots to effectively startle predators, such as birds or small mammals.

These eyespot patterns can widely differ among small-eyed sphinx moths, with the following variations being particularly noteworthy:

  • Blue eyespots on hindwings
  • Yellow angled lines on forewings
  • White or black wavy lines on both forewings and hindwings

Keep in mind that the combination of colors and patterns in a single small-eyed sphinx moth adds to each individual’s unique appearance. Observing these fascinating insects can genuinely enrich your appreciation for the diverse beauty found within the natural world.

Interesting Facts

The Small Eyed Sphinx Moth is a fascinating creature with unique features. Here are some interesting facts about this intriguing moth.

  • Small Eyed Sphinx Moths are members of the Sphingidae family. They are called Sphinx Moths because the postures their larvae, known as hornworms, resemble the ancient Sphinx [^1^].
  • These moths are known to have **cryptic patterning^](https://cales.arizona.edu/yavapai/anr/hort/byg/archive/sphinxmoth2021.html) on their wings, which helps them camouflage effectively as they rest on tree bark or rocks.
  • Sphinx Moths, including the Small Eyed Sphinx Moth, are often referred to as hawk moths or hummingbird moths due to their hovering feeding behavior, which resembles that of hummingbirds.
  • They have a long proboscis or “tongue” that they use to feed on nectar from flowers. This not only allows them to feed without landing but also means they are efficient pollinators.

To summarize, the Small Eyed Sphinx Moth is an intriguing insect with fascinating characteristics such as its Sphinx-like posture as a larva, cryptic patterning for camouflage, hovering feeding behavior similar to hummingbirds, and an impressive long proboscis for feeding on nectar.

References and Resources

Classification and Taxonomy

The Small-eyed Sphinx Moth (Paonias myops) belongs to the family Sphingidae and is a type of hawk moth. It was first described by James Edward Smith in 1797. This moth is classified as follows:

  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Sphingidae
  • Genus: Paonias
  • Species: P. myops

For more information on the taxonomy of this moth, visit Butterflies and Moths of North America.

Size, Appearance, and Seasonality

Small-eyed Sphinx Moths have a wingspan ranging from 45 to 70 mm. They are easily recognizable by the characteristic eyespots on their hind wings. The moths are active from April to October.

Some features of the Small-eyed Sphinx Moth include:

  • Antennae are thick and feather-like
  • Forewings are grayish-brown with a pattern of wavy lines
  • Hind wings have a bold blue eyespot with a black center and yellow border

Distribution and Habitat

This moth species can be found throughout North America, from Canada all the way down to Mexico. Its range includes eastern North America, from Nova Scotia to Florida, and west to Texas and North Dakota. Visit BugGuide.net for distribution maps and images of the Small-eyed Sphinx Moth.

Resources for Additional Information

  • BugGuide.net – Offers information on identification, distribution, and images of the Small-eyed Sphinx Moth.
  • Butterflies and Moths of North America – Provides detailed information on the taxonomy, distribution, and seasonality of Paonias myops.
  • Family Sphingidae – Contains information about the family of hawk moths, including classification and related species.

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 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

I am attaching two photos of a moth that was taking advantage of shade on the side of my house on a very hot day. Perhaps you can help identify it. I suspect it is a species of sphinx moth.
Harvey

Hi Harvey,
Your sphinx is a Small Eyed Sphinx, Paonias myops. We located it on this North Prairie Wildlife Reserch Center site. The moth has a wide distribution.

Letter 2 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

What is this…
Love the site, and have a moth question for you. Can you identify this for me please? I’m having trouble finding something with this wing shape.
Charles

Hi Charles,
Bill Oehlke’s excellent Sphinx Moth site has information on the Small-Eyed Sphinx, Paonias myops.

Letter 3 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

need help identifying two hawk moths
Hello Bugman:
I am an amateur entomologist. I’ve collected some hawkmoths out here in Glasgow, KY. Through your website I have been able to identify most of them. With respect to the first picture, in the left column, from top to bottom, is a waved sphinx, tersa sphinx, and pandorus sphinx. Next, in the middle column, the bottom moth is a virginia creeper sphinx, but I do not know what the top one is. Then in the right column I only know that the middle one is a pink-spotted hawkmoth and the bottom one is a laurel sphinx. If you could help me to identify the two that I am having trouble with, I would truly appreciate it. I want to make a display case with the names attached. Here are my _guesses_ with the two I am unable to identify. The top middle one is a small-eyed sphinx, but could it also be a huckelberry or blinded? The top right one is an elm sphinx, I think. But when I looked at the picture on the "Moths of Kentucky" website I wasn’t entirely sure. Please help me at your earliest convenience.
Thank you!
Justin Monts
Glasgow, KY

Hi Justin,
We frequently use Bill Oehlke’s site for identification. We agree with the Small Eyed Sphinx identification. It matches the image on the bizland site. We aren’t sure about the other one. We are not convinced it is an Elm Sphinx.

Letter 4 – Small-Eyed Sphinx

 

Mysterious Moths, part 2
Dear Bugman,
I’ve been a fan of entomology since I was a kid, but I have not had the time nor resources to keep up with it as an adult. I stumbled onto your site after hearing stories of the Cicada Killer Wasps on my friend’s property in Indiana and looked them up. On three different trips to Farwell, Michigan, I encountered three spectacular species of moth for the first time and still know nothing about them. This is the second of three unidentifiable moths I ran into in north-central Michigan. This small moth was maybe an inch in length and very dark. It was dark charcoal gray, dark brown, and light rust in color. It had a "mohawk-like" fuzzy crest on its dorsal side of the thorax. Its abdomen curled upward and overall this was the neatest insect I had ever seen. That is, until the next moth in this three-part series… Thanks,
Anthony

Hi Anthony,
This is a Small-Eyed Sphinx, Paonias myops. Bill Oehlke’s website is an excellent source for information on Sphinx Moths.

Letter 5 – Small Eyed Sphinx and Azalea Sphinx

 

check these out!
Here are a few bugs I have found recently… I am especially interested in the moth with horns. Do you think there is any cosmic relevance to me finding all these random bugs in the last few months? –
Tony, Hyannis, MA.

Small Eyed Sphinx Azalea Sphinx

Hi Tony,
The “horned” moth you have photographed is a Small Eyed Sphinx, Paonias myops. In answer to your theoretical question, perhaps you are more observant and in tune with your environment now than you have been in the past. If we are able, we will downloac your other images and try to identify them, but our current mail volume does not really allow us to answer multiple identifications in a single letter. If any image is especially pressing, please send a separate description along with a single attached photograph. Thank you for understanding.
After posting your letter and responding, we were curious and opened another of your enclosed images. This is an Azalea Sphinx, Darapsa pholus (now choerilus), and as it is a moth in the same family as the One Eyed Sphinx, Sphingidae, we decided to post it as well. We shutter to think what we might find if we continue to open your attachments.

Letter 6 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

what’s this moth called?
hey hows it goin bug man, i live in baldwinsville new york and my back door to my apartment complex is a haven for all types of bugs. what’s this one called i can’t seem to figure it out very cool looking. size is approx 2 inches wide and the body maybe 1 3/4 to 2 inches. get back will ya???
Eric

Hi Eric,
Your moth is a Small Eyed Sphinx, Paonias myops.

Letter 7 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

whats that bug
hello bugman
my name is cindy and i’m from stoughton, mass. i was out for a walk this morning with my son and came across this bug outside of a cvs. i have never seen anything like it . could you please tell me what it is and a little info on it. thank you
cindy

Hi Cindy,
This is a Small Eyed Sphinx, Paonias myops.

Letter 8 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Beautiful Bug!
I discovered this moth on the bottom of a false Solomon’s Seal in a woodland in western Massachusetts. Any idea what it might be
Karen

Hi Karen,
This is Paonias myops, the Small Eyed Sphinx.

Letter 9 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 


Just found your marvelous website looking up a Hellgrammite that visited a festival during Memorial Day weekend. Last year at the same time, this winged creature visited. Never did find out what it was. The event is in the Adirondack Park, along the Hudson River.
Tracy, visiting from Texas

Hi Tracy,
This is a Small Eyed Sphinx Moth, Paonias myops. There is information on Bill Oehlke’s amazing website

Letter 10 – Small Eyed Sphinx and Snowberry Sphinx: Two from British Columbia

 

Hi! Can you tell me what these two moths are?
Kathy
Adams Lake, B.C. Canada May 24th 2008

Small Eyed Sphinx Snowberry Sphinx

Hi Kathy,
Both of your moths are Sphinx Moths. The brown one with the undulating patterns is a Small Eyed Sphinx, Paonias myops, and you can find out more about it on Bill Oehlke’s wonderful website. We believe your second gray moth is a Snowberry Sphinx, Sphinx vashti, but it might also be the similar looking Elegant Sphinx, Sphinx perelegans. We will try to contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can conclusively identify it.

Update: (05/25/2008)
Hi Daniel,
It is Sphinx vashti, Can you please ask Kathy to contact me as I would like permission to use images with credit to her. … Thanks for the referals to my site and kind words.
Bill Oehlke

Letter 11 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Brown/orange moth (?), central NJ
June 7, 2009
Any ideas on the ID of the attached bug? Early Jun 2009, seen on (pressure-treated) deck, semi-rural Monmouth County, NJ (6″ width decking in picture).
Curious About A Bug
Monmouth County, NJ

Small Eyed Sphinx
Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear Curious,
This is a Small Eyed Sphinx, Paonias myops.  If you desire more information, we would recommend Bill Oehlke’s awesome website.

Letter 12 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Please help identify moth
July 25, 2009
I found this moth on my screen and am wondering if you could help identify it.
Anita
Southern Vermont

Small Eyed Sphinx
Small Eyed Sphinx

Hi Anita,
Your moth is known as a Small Eyed Sphinx, Paonias myops.  It is so named because the underwings which are not visible in your photo have eyespots.  According to Bill Oehkle’s awesome website:  “Small-eyed Sphinx females call in the night flying males with an airbourne pheromone emitted from a gland at the posterior of the abdomen.  Both sexes rest with wings parallel to the resting surface, with the upper lobes of the hindwings protruding above the forewings.  The lower abdomen of the male (right) arcs upward toward the head, while the abdomen of the female hangs strait down on a vertical surface.
”  That means your specimen is a female.  We are copying Bill Oehlke on this response so he can add your sighting to the comprehensive data he is compiling on North American Sphinx Moths.

Letter 13 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

What’s this moth?
December 10, 2009
Found this month hanging out on our screen door this past summer, it stayed there for a couple days. The moth was about an inch and a half long and certainly an interesting bug!
Katherine from Colorado
Boulder, CO

Small Eyed Sphinx
Small Eyed Sphinx

Hi Katherine,
This beauty is a Small Eyed Sphinx, and you may read more about this species, Paonias myops, on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Letter 14 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

moth with pointy parts
April 24, 2010
This moth was stuck to the screen door. Located in Maryland, about 65 degrees out, partly cloudy day, around 10 am. Photos are included. It had pointy antennae on the head and very interesting wings- very bat-like and leathery. Reddish color. The wings look like bat wings or like 70’s bell bottoms- wide and unusual. I’m a science teacher and this one totally baffled me!
From, Megan (and Buddy the dog in the background)
Damascus, Maryland

Small Eyed Sphinx

Hi Megan,
Your photo is so funny and amusing, we had to post it.  this is a Small Eyed Sphinx, Paonias myops, and you may read more about the species in our archives and on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Letter 15 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

This moth was on my screen, almost looked like carved wood. Shades of brown, approx. 2-3 inches wide.
July 6, 2010
The moth stayed on the screen for 3 days before leaving. It was the end of June. very interesting wing patterns, thick body and 4 wings.
artqueen
Duxbury, Ma. (southern Ma.)

Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear artqueen,
Your moth is one of the Sphinx Moths or Hawkmoths in the family Sphingidae.  It is
Paonias myops, commonly called the Small Eyed Sphinx.  You can read more about this species on Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.  According to Oehlke:  “Wild cherry species are the favorites as larval foodplants, but eggs will also be deposited on birches and other forest trees.

Letter 16 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Strange moth like bug on window screen
Location: Mokena, Illinois
May 21, 2011 8:43 pm
We found this bug attached to our screen window. It looks a bit like a moth, but has what appears to be a stinger attached to its butt. We are from Mokena, Illinois and the temperature is about 75 and humid.
Signature: Thank you, Brian Smith

Small Eyed Sphinx

Hi Brian,
Your impression that this looked like a moth was correct.  It is a Small Eyed Sphinx,
Paonias myops, so named because of the eyespots on the underwings.

Letter 17 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Unknown moth
Location: Glenmont, Ohio
June 1, 2011 9:35 am
Hi,
Some friends and I found this startling moth in late May near Loudonville, Ohio. We work in an outdoor industry and we’re working on our naturalist skills, so we want to know: what’s that bug? We appreciate any help you can give us!
Signature: Katie

Small Eyed Sphinx

Hi Katie,
This aerodynamic moth is called a Small Eyed Sphinx,
Paonias myops.

Letter 18 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

moth
Location: lorain ohio
June 4, 2011 9:49 pm
I want to know what kind of moth this is. It was about a inch long.
Signature: jesse

Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear Jesse,
This is one of a small group of Sphinx Moths known collectively as the Eyed Sphinxes and your moth is
Paonias myops, the Small Eyed Sphinx.  You may read more about its life cycle on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Letter 19 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

spiderlike moth
Location: leechburg, pa
May 3, 2012 2:48 pm
This insect is on my window. I believe it is a moth but I have never seen a moth that has a torso of a spider. I live in a rural setting just north of Pittsburgh, PA.
Signature: wonderinginpa

Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear wongeringinpa,
Your moth is a Small Eyed Sphinx, one of the members of the family Sphingidae, commonly called Sphinx Moths or Hawkmoths.  They are powerful fliers.  You can read more about the Small Eyed Sphinx and its other relatives on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Letter 20 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Subject: Moth from Missouri
Location: Plato, MO
May 20, 2012 7:26 pm
Found this moth outside my house in Plato, MO. Anything you can tell me about it? Thanks
Signature: Bobby & Brenda

Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear Bobby & Brenda,
The Small Eyed Sphinx got its common name because of the eyespots on the underwings.  While resting, if the Small Eyed Sphinx is disturbed, it reveals the eyespots which startles the potential predator.  Read more about the Small Eyed Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas Website.

Letter 21 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Subject: Small Eyed Sphinx Rescue!
Location: New Hampshire
June 22, 2012 10:48 pm
Hey Bugman!
I found this little lady (I’m assuming, from the smooth antennae)resting on the stairs of my apartment complex and thought I’d save her from a squishing by bringing her inside. And after a few pics, I let her go off the balcony. I knew she was a Sphinx moth but not the exact species until I took a quick peek in your archives. Being a life long bug nut, I was happy to have seen another insect in person that before now I had only seen in books, etc.
Signature: Black Zarak

Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear Black Zarak,
We agree with your identification of a Small Eyed Sphinx,
Paonias myops, and you can read more about the species of the Sphingidae of the Americas website.  We are thoroughly charmed by your letter.  As much as we love books, seeing a living specimen is much more rewarding than seeing a photograph of a species, even if it is a beautiful photograph.

Letter 22 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Subject: Whats this moth
Location: northeast Pennsylvania
July 2, 2013 5:16 pm
Found this moth in northeast pa on brick wall. What is it.
Signature: mantis

Small Eyed Sphinx
Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear mantis,
Your moth is a Small Eyed Sphinx, Paonias myops, and you can read more about it on the Sphingidae of the Americas website.

Letter 23 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Subject: What kind of bug is this
Location: Southwest Missouri
August 22, 2013 4:58 pm
I was wondering what kind of bug this is? I live in southwest Missouri and found it outside on the wall. I have never seen this type before and wanted to know if it bites or could be poisonous too. Any help would be great. Thank you!
Signature: Michele

Small Eyed Sphinx
Small Eyed Sphinx

Hi Michele,
This harmless moth is a Small Eyed Sphinx, Paonias myops.  It does not bite and it is not poisonous.

Letter 24 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Subject: Is this a moth???
Location: western suburbs of Chicago, IL
May 25, 2014 10:29 pm
Can you tell me what kind of bug this is? moth??
Signature: vebes

Small Eyed Sphinx
Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear vebes,
This is  Small Eyed Sphinx, a moth in the family Sphingidae.  More information is available on Sphingidae of the Americas.

Letter 25 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Subject: Indiana Moth
Location: Northern Indiana
May 27, 2014 1:51 pm
I am having trouble identifying a moth that was found. Maybe you can help guide me in the right direction.
Signature: Ashlee Haviland

Small Eyed Sphinx
Small Eyed Sphinx

Hi Ashlee,
Your moth is a Small Eyed Sphinx,
Paonias myops, and your image is much clearer than the Small Eyed Sphinx image we posted yesterday.

Letter 26 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Subject: Moth
Location: Macon, Ga
March 19, 2016 6:05 am
My friend took this picture last night, March 18, 2016, around 10 pm on her kitchen window in east Macon, GA across the street from Ocmulgee National Monument. I told her I thought that it had recently hatched so not fully extended.
Can you tell what kind of moth this is?
Thanks so much.
Bty it was taken with a Nikon Coolpix P530.
Signature: Barbara Edwards

Small Eyed Sphinx
Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear Barbara,
This gorgeous moth is a Small Eyed Sphinx,
Paonias myops, and according to the Sphingidae of the Americas site:  “Small-eyed Sphinx females call in the night flying males with an airbourne pheromone emitted from a gland at the posterior of the abdomen.  Both sexes rest with wings parallel to the resting surface, with the upper lobes of the hindwings protruding above the forewings.  The lower abdomen of the male (right) arcs upward toward the head, while the abdomen of the female hangs strait down on a vertical surface.”  This moth being presumably attracted to a light in the window, and the position of the abdomen indicates your individual is a male.

Letter 27 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Subject: WTB
Location: Fishing Creek, MD USA
May 17, 2016 9:00 pm
HI, can you identify? It’s 1 inch long
Signature: Mike F.

Small Eyed Sphinx
Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear Mike,
This is a Small Eyed Sphinx,
Paonias myops, and if you disturb it so that it reveals its underwings, you would see the markings that give this species its common name.  Eyespots on underwings are a defense mechanism that might frighten of a predator like a bird that might perceive a threat from a much larger creature with large “eyes.”

Letter 28 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Subject: What is this type of moth?
Location: Marietta, Georgia
May 29, 2016 7:49 am
Hello! I found this moth years ago in my basement. It was hanging from some type of silk.. Was dead when i found her 🙁 I have never been able to identify what she was.. Could you help me? Thank you!
Signature: Hannah Johns

Small Eyed Sphinx
Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear Hannah,
This is a Small Eyed Sphinx,
Paonias myops, an identification you may verify on Sphingidae of the Americas where it states:  “Small-eyed Sphinx females call in the night flying males with an airbourne pheromone emitted from a gland at the posterior of the abdomen.  Both sexes rest with wings parallel to the resting surface, with the upper lobes of the hindwings protruding above the forewings.  The lower abdomen of the male (right) arcs upward toward the head, while the abdomen of the female hangs strait down on a vertical surface.”  The arched abdomen indicates your individual is a male.  The common name refers to the markings on the hidden underwings which are though to resemble eyes.  Since your image is a few years old, we are going to postdate your submission to go live to our site during our annual trip away from the office in early June.

Daniel,
Thank you so much!! How exciting to learn what *he* was after all these years. Your site is a fantastic resource, it is a wonderful thing that you all do. Thank you again, happy memorial day!
Hannah Johns

Letter 29 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Subject: Moth
Location: Toledo, OH
June 9, 2017 2:31 pm
Hi, found this moth at my mom’s house in the woods of NW Ohio.
Signature: Sam

Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear Sam,
This pretty moth is a Small Eyed Sphinx.  If you disturb it, it will reveal spotted underwings that resemble eyes, an effective defense mechanism against predators like birds who might be startled upon seeing what appears to be the eyes of a larger creature gazing back at them.  You can read more about the Small Eyed Sphinx on the Sphingidae of the Americas site.

 

Letter 30 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Subject: type of moth
Location: West Virginia
August 9, 2017 10:49 pm
This moth was on my doorframe at around one o’clock this morning. It has tattered wings (yet still can fly), and a curved body ending in a type of stinger. I’ve included a side view and a back view.
Signature: Hailey

Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear Hailey,
This is a Small Eyed Sphinx,
Paonias myops, and what you have mistaken for a stinger is just the curved abdomen of the male moth.  According to Sphingidae of the Americas:  “Both sexes rest with wings parallel to the resting surface, with the upper lobes of the hindwings protruding above the forewings.  The lower abdomen of the male arcs upward toward the head, while the abdomen of the female hangs strait down on a vertical surface.”  The wings on your individual do not appear especially tattered to us.

Small Eyed Sphinx

Letter 31 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Subject:  Moth??
Geographic location of the bug:  Saranac Michigan
Date: 08/02/2018
Time: 10:53 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you tell me what this is?
How you want your letter signed:  Whitney

Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear Whitney,
Your moth is a Small Eyed Sphinx, and according to Sphingidae of the Americas it:  “ranges from south eastern Canada to Florida westward almost to the Pacific Coast.”  The small eyes referred to in the name correspond to eyespots on the underwings that can startle a predator like a bird into thinking it has startled a large predator when the moth reveals the “eyes.”

Letter 32 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Subject:  Strange insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Columbus Ohio
Date: 06/25/2021
Time: 12:47 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this insect on the wall of my front porch. I’ve done a Google image search but can’t find anything like it. Can you help me identify it?
How you want your letter signed:  Linda

Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear Linda,
This aerodynamic moth is a Small Eyed Sphinx,
Paonias myops.  Here is a posting from BugGuide.  According to Sphingidae of the United States of America:  ” Males and females of this species look identical, but differ in size slightly. Females tend to be a bit larger and heavier.”

Small Eyed Sphinx

Letter 33 – Small Eyed Sphinx

 

Subject:  Is this a Blinded Sphinx Moth?
Geographic location of the bug:  Western PA
Date: 06/05/2021
Time: 05:58 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi.  This guy has been hanging out on our garage for a couple days.  I think it is a Sphinx moth – specifically a Blinded Sphinx moth. Am I correct?
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks, Cheryl

Small Eyed Sphinx

Dear Cheryl,
This is a Small Eyed Sphinx, not a Blinded Sphinx.  The two moths are in the same genus, so they are closely related and share physical characteristics.

Authors

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  • 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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4 thoughts on “Small Eyed Sphinx Moth: Essential Guide for Enthusiasts”

  1. Seen one of these on my window screen last night. Never seen one before so was curious to know what type of moth. Good to know.
    The abdomen on my moth arc’d upwards so I’m assuming it was a male. Also, it was perched very still but it’s wings fluttered very very quickly, almost as if they were vibrating. Such cool insects.

    Reply
  2. Seen one of these on my window screen last night. Never seen one before so was curious to know what type of moth. Good to know.
    The abdomen on my moth arc’d upwards so I’m assuming it was a male. Also, it was perched very still but it’s wings fluttered very very quickly, almost as if they were vibrating. Such cool insects.

    Reply

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