White Lined Sphinx

Distinctions between Hyles lineata and Hyles livornica
Location:  Boone County Iowa
August 17, 2010 2:42 pm
What is used to split/differentiate the genus Hyles into the two species lineata and livornica? I caught one or the other yesterday evening and wanted to know how to positively id it.
John Taylor Biology Teacher @ Woodward Academy

Stock Photo of Hyles species

Hi John,
This is a great question, and your photograph is stunning.
Hyles livornica, the Striped Hawkmoth and Hyles lineata, the Striped Morning Sphinx or White Lined Sphinx are very similar looking species that may take an experienced expert in the family Sphingidae to properly explain how to differentiate them from one another.  We can tell you that often a photograph is not sufficient to identify certain difficult species where actual inspection of the specimen is required for conclusive identification.  In the case of these two moths, the Striped Hawkmoth is an Old World species and the Striped Morning Sphinx or White Lined Sphinx is a New World species.  While it is possible that there have been transoceanic introductions, we can only speculate that the ranges of the two species are separated by large bodies of water.  We are not certain if any studies have been conducted on hybridization of these two species.  We would not be surprised if the two moths are subspecies of one another, but that is a personal opinion with no basis in scientific research.  Though we don’t generally like to cite Wikipedia, there is a distribution map of Hyles livornica available on Wikipedia. The Sphingidae of the Western Palaearctic website has a nice profile of Hyles livornica. For information on the White Lined Sphinx we recommend Bill Oehlke’s excellent website.

Thanks for your prompt reply. The photo isn’t mine, it is a stock photo I got from the net. I was just using it as an example. What I hear you saying is that the moth I captured is likely the Striped/White Lined lineata variety. Thanks also for the suggestions of sites to visit.
John Taylor

Hi again John,
Thanks for indicating that the photo is not your image.  We are recaptioning that image as
Hyles species since we do not have the necessary knowledge to differentiate the two species.  We may try to contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can assist.

Bill Oehlke responds
Hi Daniel,
I only know the two species are distinct. There are morphological characters to distinguish them, but I do not know what those characters/features are. I would only be able to differentiate between them based on location.
Bill Oehlke

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