Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Some Sphinx Moths of Costa Rica

I’ve been too swamped with showing some fabulous birds and critters to tour participants in Costa Rica and Brazil these past five weeks to post to my blog. And the more cool stuff I see, the more I have to blog about, and the farther behind I get.

Here’s a very quick sampling of the sphinx moths (family Sphingidae) that I managed to photograph and identify on the Costa Rica in July tour.

Xylophanes is the largest genus of sphingids, and I can usually recognize them by their sleek, aerodynamic look, often with longitudinal lines and lack of complex patterns.

Xylophanes libya has that classic look and seems to be very common.

Xylophanes anubus is one of the duller ones, but with enough pattern to be quite distinctive.

Xylophanes cyrene is a little more colorful and has a gorgeous pattern.

I was surprised to find that this one is also in this genus; it’s Xylophanes zurcheri. It comes last in the alphabetically organized list for northwestern Costa Rica (, so it took me a while to find it.

Adhemarius gannascus is a very large and very common species.

If I can, I usually grab any sphinx moth to get a photo of the hind wing pattern, which is often very useful in the identification. Sometimes it’s strikingly beautiful, too.

This big dull one is Cocytius antaeus, closely related to the hawkmoths in the genus Manduca (to which the familiar “tobacco hornworm” or Carolina Sphinx belongs).

This tattered one is Erinnyis ello, nicely showing its hind wing without my having to grab it. It occurs in the southern United States, with strays well north, even into SE Canada.

This strangely shaped and very compact one is Nyceryx tacita.

This last one is Pachylioides resumens, the only member of its genus.


  1. Very interesting, Rich. Sphingidae species are among my newest photographic obsession, so these really gave me something to aspire to. To quote John Linnell, nice "Bee of the Bird of the Moth!"
    Oh, and welcome back for now...

  2. I love these detailed and sharp images .... Such fascinating creatures!!