Paonias myops (J.E. Smith, 1797)

MONA 7825

Small-eyed Sphinx Moth

Identification

Adults

Paonias mypops is a large sphinx moth (FW length 25–30 mm) with yellow and brown hindwings bearing a black and blue eyespot that flies east of the Cascades during late spring and summer. The forewings are long and appear curved because the distal costa is convex and the distal trailing margin is concave. The outer margin is slightly uneven with two teeth. It is mottled orange-brown to purplish brown with pale lavender transverse lines and dark brown or blackish mottling near the trailing margin and distal to the postmedial line. Yellow areas is present at the apex and sometimes near the anal angle. No discal spot is evident. The hindwing is purplish brown and orange with a bright yellow base and anal angle which surrounds a moderately-large black eyespot. Its pale blue center is unmarked without a black ocellus—hence the common name. The thorax and abdomen match the forewing color, velvety dark orange-brown in most specimens. The antenna is club-like.

The yellow hindwing color differentiates this species from all other Pacific Northwest sphinx moths with hindwing eyespots. This moth is unlikely to be confused with any other species.

Habitat

This species is relatively common and widely distributed east of the Cascades in riparian habitats along creeks and rivers at lower elevations, and in mixed hardwood-conifer forests at higher elevations in the mountains.  A population in central Oregon is found in mixed juniper-hardwood woodland at middle elevations. 

Distribution

Pacific Northwest

Paonias myops occurs widely in the Pacific Northwest east of the crest of the Cascade Range.  It is found from south-central British Columbia to southern Oregon and Idaho, most commonly in mountain foothills.  It is absent from the driest steppe habitats, although it has been collected in some of the mountains in the Basin and Range province of southern Oregon.  It is found in the mountains of southeastern Idaho.

Global

The range of this species is similar to that of Paonias excaecatus in the United States and Canada. It is more widespread in the intermountain west but does not occur along the immediate Pacific Coast. Its western range extends to the Mexico border, although it is not found in southern California or most of Texas.

Life History

Larvae

The larvae feed on many hardwoods, particularly various Rosaceae and huckleberries (Vaccinium spp.) in the Ericaceae.  In the Pacific Northwest, cherries (Prunus spp.) and serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) may be of particular importance. 

Adults

Adults are on the wing from May to early August. They are nocturnal and come readily to light. Members of the genus Paonias do not feed as adults.

Economic Importance

None.

Literature

BugGuide

Covell (1984)

Moth Photographers Group

Powell & Opler (2009)

Tuttle (2007)