Pohl, Greg, Anweiler, Gary, Schmidt, Christian & Kondla, Norbert, 2010, An annotated list of the Lepidoptera of Alberta, Canada, ZooKeys 38 (38), pp. 1-549: 228

publication ID

http://doi.org/ 10.3897/zookeys.38.383



persistent identifier


treatment provided by


scientific name



58. Sphingidae  – sphinx moths; hawk moths

Medium-sized to very large (30–180 mm wingspan) moths with robust bodies, a characteristic elongate–triangular forewing, and a relatively small hindwing. Like the Saturniidae  , the sphinx moths are part of the “charismatic megafauna” of Lepidoptera  and indeed of all insects. Larvae often attract attention because they are large, and most species bear a conspicuous horn on the dorsal tip of the abdomen. Larval host plants include a wide variety of plant groups, although many of the species listed here feed on deciduous trees and shrubs.

There are at least 1 200 species of sphingids globally, and the family is most diverse in tropical regions (Lemaire and Minet 1999). Th e North American fauna consists of about 130 species, with 27 species reported from AB. Many sphingids are strong dispersers, and strays from the far south occur occasionally in southern Canada.

Three important monographs cover the North American Sphingidae  : Rothschild and Jordan (1903), Hodges (1971), and Tuttle (2007). Rothschild and Jordan’s (1903) monumental work encompassed a global revision of the family. Hodges (1971) provided a taxonomic framework and biological information, although the distributions in western Canada were sketchy. Tuttle (2007) provided a wealth of biological information with much better coverage of western Canada. Kitching and Cadiou (2000) provided a complete catalogue of the world Sphingidae  .