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Digital Guide to Moth Identification

890121 – 7810.1   Sphinx poecila Stephens, 1828
             Northern Apple Sphinx

Tom Murray
Distribution: Ranges from Newfoundland into the prairie provinces of Canada, and from Maine south into Pennsylvania, thence westward through Michigan, northern Illinois and Wisconsin. Overlaps in a portion of the northeast with Sphinx gordius.
and Size:
One brood from May into September. Wingspan 68 - 95 mm.
Larva and
Host Plants:
The larva has been found on a wide variety of food plants including larch, apple, blueberries, huckleberries, white spruce, sweetfern, Carolina rose, and alder. See previous page regarding larva.
Field Marks:
This is a variable species and, where their ranges overlap, is easily confused in photographs with Spinx gordius (Apple Sphinx). In well-marked specimens the fringes of the wings offer good clues to identification. In S. gordius the forewing fringes are mostly black with some white, and hindwing fringes are mostly white with some black patches. In S. poecila the forewing fringes are checkered black and white, while the hindwing fringes are almost totally white. See pinned specimens below.
Similar Species:
  • Pinned specimens of related species. (Hint: select View by Region on the related species page.)
Synonymy: Sphinx poecila Stephens, 1828
Sphinx borealis Clark, 1920
Sphinx coxeyi Cadbury, 1931
  • 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.35; Pl. 5 (merged in S. gordius without comment).
  • Species Page at Bill Oehlke's moth website - Sphinx poecila
  • Species Page at Block Island Moths
  • Species Page at BugGuide.Net
  • Species Page at E. H. Strickland Museum
  • Species Page at Mass Moths
  • Species Page at Pacific Northwest Moths
  • Tuttle, J. P., 2007. Hawk Moths of North America: p. 87; pl. 6.3, 6.
  • Wagner, D. L., (2005). Caterpillars of Eastern North America, p. 258 (merged in S. gordius).
Sphinx poecila
Janice Stiefel
Sphinx poecila
Jason Dombroskie
Sphinx poecila
Jason Dombroskie
Sphinx poecila
Carol Wolf
Sphinx poecila
80mm – Jim Vargo
Sphinx poecila
Jason Dombroskie

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