Moths of North Dakota



Family Sphingidae:
Sphinx moths/ Hawkmoths/ Hummingbird moths

Diagnosis: fws narrowed, media stem absent; hw with veins Sc+R and Rs connected by a cross-vein above discal cell; abdomen extends for at least Ĺ its length beyond hws.

Diversity: Worldwide three subfamilies, 200 genera and 1,200 species; North America has 42 genera and 125 species; 37 species have been recorded from the Dakotas.

Checklist numbers: 7771- 7894.

Biology: Larvae are external leaf feeders, most species possess a caudal horn. Pupae are formed in leaf litter or underground. Adults are mostly crepuscular or diurnal (some nocturnal, matinal) and can be seen hovering, like hummingbirds, at tubular flowers.  A few species have  the second segment of the labial palpus fluid-filled and sensory bristles of the pilifer in contact with the palpus, register high frequency sound as vibration.  This is thought to be a non-directional 'bat detector.'  A few species of minor economic importance: Tomato/Tobacco hornworms, Achemon sphinx, White-lined sphinx. 


Identification key to the Sphingidae of North Dakota


Further reading:

DíAbrera, Bernard. 1986. Sphingidae Mundi. Hawkmoths of the world. E. W. Classey Ltd. Faringdon, UK. 226 pp.

Forbes, William T. M. Family 45. Sphingidae, pp. 176- 202 in, Ibid. 1923. Lepidoptera of New York and neighboring states. Part II. Geometridae, Notodontidae, Sphingidae, Lymantriidae. Cornell Agric. Exp. Sta. Mem. 274: 263 pp.

Fors, Mary F. 1981. A checklist of North Dakota Sphingidae. Utahensis 1(3): 1-8.

Hodges, Ronald W. 1971. Fascicle 21 Sphingoidea in Dominick et al. The moths of America north of Mexico. E. W. Classey Ltd. London. 158 pp.

Kitching, Ian J. and Jean-Marie Cadiou. 2000. Hawkmoths of the world. An annotated and illustrated revisionary checklist (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae). Mus. Natr. Hist. London.  226 pp.

Lemaire, Claude and JoŽl Minet. Chapter 18. The Bombycoidea and their relatives, pp. 321- 353 in Kristensen, Neils P. ed. 1999. Lepidoptera, moths and butterflies. Part 35, Vol. 1 in Handbook of Zoology. Maximilian Fischer ed. Walter de Gryter, New York. 491 pp.

Riotte, J. Charles E. 1980. Sphinx poecila, a valid North America hawkmoth species (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae). Great Lakes Entomol. 13(3): 115-130.

Scoble, Malcom J. 1992. The Higher Ditrysia, Chapter 12, pp. 290- 341 in The Lepidoptera: form, function, and diversity. Oxford Univ. press. 1982. 404 pp.

Selman, Charles L. 1975. A pictorial key to the hawkmoths (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) of eastern United States (except Florida). Ohio Biol. Surv. Biol. note 9: 31 pp.

Smith, Michael J. 1993. Moths of western North America. 1. Distribution of Sphingidae of western North America. Contrib. C. P. Gilbert Mus. Colorado State Univ. Fort Collins, Colorado. 27 pp.



Last updated: 09/11/03

Gerald M. Fauske
Research Specialist
202 Hultz Hall
Fargo, ND 58105

Published by the Department of Entomology 

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