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Digital Guide to Moth Identification

890111 – 7802   Sphinx chersis (Hübner, [1823])
             Great Ash Sphinx

© Nolie Schneider
Distribution: Found across Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and in most of the United States, but rare in the Gulf States.
and Size:
One generation in the north, two or more in the south. Wingspan 90 - 130 mm.
Larva and
Host Plants:
Larva feed on ash, lilac, privet and other plants in the olive family. The large (to 100 mm) greenish or pinkish larva has seven pairs of oblique lines on sides, each line continuing to preceding and following segments. Vertically elongate spiracles are black, bordered by white. An anal plate is flattened and edged with yellow.
Field Marks:
  • forewing gray with a series of 4 black dashes. The outermost dash reaches the tip of the wing.
  • hindwing black with 2 blurred pale grey bands.
  • central part of head and thorax gray.
Similar Species:
  • In various parts of the west confusion might arise between this species and S. vashti, S. chersis and S. asella.
  • Pinned specimens of related species. (Hint: select View by Region on the related species page.)
Synonymy: Lethia chersis Hübner, [1823]
Sphinx cinerea Harris, 1839
Hyloicus mexicanus Rothschild & Jordan, 1903
Sphinx oreodaphne Edwards, 1873
Hyloicus pallescens Rothschild & Jordan, 1903
  • Barcode of Life (BOLD) - Caution: DNA barcode provides evidence of relatedness, not proof of identification, and some BOLD specimens shown may not be sequenced.
  • Covell Field Guide p.34; Pl. 4(7, male).
  • Hall et al., 2021. The Moths of North Carolina - website (identification, habitats and life history)
  • Hodges, R. W., 1971. Moths of America North of Mexico, Fascicle 21:p. 58; pl. 3.9-10, 4.2. order or free PDF
  • Powell, J. A. & P. A. Opler, 2009. Moths of Western North America, Pl. 39.8m; p. 243. Book Review and ordering
  • Species Page at Bill Oehlke's moth website - Sphinx chersis
  • Species Page at BugGuide.Net
  • Species Page at E. H. Strickland Museum
  • Species Page at Mass Moths
  • Species Page at Pacific Northwest Moths
  • Species page at Moths of North Dakota.
  • Tuttle, J. P., 2007. Hawk Moths of North America: p. 74; pl. 7.4.
  • Wagner, D. L., (2005). Caterpillars of Eastern North America, p. 256.
Sphinx chersis
© John Davis
Sphinx chersis
© D. Lynn Scott
Sphinx chersis
110mm – © Jim Vargo
Sphinx chersis
100mm – © Jim Vargo
Sphinx chersis
© Nolie Schneider

Sphinx chersis
© Canadian National Collection LG

Sphinx chersis
© Janice Stiefel
5th instar
Sphinx chersis
© Martha Reinhardt

Sphinx chersis
© Martha Reinhardt

Sphinx chersis
© Martha Reinhardt

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