Sphinx Moth: Smerinthus ophthalmica

Subject: Moth
Location: Fernbridge/ Loleta CA
July 12, 2016 9:41 am
I was a t a gas station and it was windy and when I got out of the car a moth was on the ground on its back. It was pretty and as I was going to pick it up, I put my finger down and it grabbed my finger. I put it on a wall but its little wing was out of wack and it couldn’t fly.
I brought it home and took pictures then put it out side in a plant pot to live.
I looked it up but couldn’t find one like it.
Signature: Darlene

Smerinthus ophthalmica
Smerinthus ophthalmica

Dear Darlene,
This is a Sphinx Moth in the genus
Smerinthus and based on the Sphingidae of California, there are three species in the genus, but Smerinthus saliceti is limited to extreme Southern California.  The Sphingidae of California also states:  “Moths previously listed as S. cerisyi, west of the Continental Divide, are more likely S. ophthalmica” which implies that your species is Smerinthus ophthalmica.  Sadly, your lovely moth has no common name.  According to Sphingidae of America:  “S. ophthalmica flies across southern British Columbia and southern Alberta into southwestern Saskatchewan. In the United States it can be found in Washington, Oregon and northern and central California eastward into Idaho, western Montana, western Wyoming and northern Nevada and northern Utah.”  Unfortunately, this moth will not be able to fly in its current condition, and its dislocated wing needs to be adjusted so the underwing is oriented correctly.  We are tagging this posting with the Bug Humanitarian Award because of the care you gave this injured moth.

Smerinthus ophthalmica
Smerinthus ophthalmica

Thank you so much for letting me know about my moth. Unfortunately it has passed away but is still in beautiful condition. I wasn’t able to fix it’s wing until after it had died.
It is sad that it couldn’t continue on.
Thanks again for being out there to identify bugs.

2 thoughts on “Sphinx Moth: Smerinthus ophthalmica”

  1. Hi! I know this post is a bit old, but I found a caterpillar in Marin County recently. It was feeding on Willow. I read that its common name is “Southwestern Eyed Sphinx.” Is that a correct common name? I was confused because this entry says they don’t really have one. Thanks for any info you might have!


Leave a Comment