Subject:  Cramer’s Sphinx still there at dawn
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
December 2, 2015

Cramer's Sphinx at dawn

Cramer’s Sphinx at dawn

Julian Donahue confirms Cramer’s Sphinx indentification
It is indeed Erinnyis crameri, an infrequent stray to SoCal from farther south (once bred on Vinca in Riverside–see my more extensive comments on WTB?).
Nice find, Daniel. The specimen should go to LACM, or at least be reported to iNaturalist AND the BAMONA website <>, where the most recent Los Angeles County record is 1950!!

Subject:  This Moth made me late for a meeting.

Cramer's Sphinx with good Depth of Field

Cramer’s Sphinx at the porch light

Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Temperature:  54º F.  Light wind out of the North and low humidity.
December 1, 2015 11:00 PM.
So, we know that this is a Sphinx Moth in the genus
ErinnyasSphingidae of the Americas lists four members of the genus in California, and this is definitely NOT an Ello Sphinx.  The pattern on the forewings looks most like Cramer’s Sphinx, Erinnyis crameri, to us.  We have contacted Bill Oehlke to verify the species.  We worked really hard tonight, reshooting three times to first get a decent exposure and then to maximize depth of field.  We are quite proud of capturing this challenging image.
We can’t help but to wonder if El Niño might play a part in this sighting.

Ventral View of female Cramer's Sphinx

Ventral View of female Cramer’s Sphinx

December 2, 2015 12:39 AM
We couldn’t resist getting a ventral view of what we speculate is a female Cramer’s Sphinx.  We wonder if El Niño conditions are causing this typically Central and South American species to migrate North in an effort to expand their range in the event of global warming.

Bill Oehlke confirms ID
HI Daniel,
Yes, I am pretty sure it is crameri. Only other close one is oenotrus, but I favour crameri.
Thanks for thinking of me.

According to Sphingidae of the Americas “lacks black dots on the underside of abdomen” and even though the image is not the greatest, we still have the moth to inspect as it is still on the screen door at 6:42 AM.  There are no dots on the underside of the abdomen.  We would think that if this individual traveled a great distance, it would look more tattered than the individual that visited us, which looks more like a newly eclosed specimen.  There are only two postings on BugGuide, and one is from San Diego this September.


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Location: Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California

One Response to It’s a Keeper: Cramer’s Sphinx visits WTB? in Mount Washington

  1. Julian Donahue says:

    Indeed, it is Cramer’s Sphinx (Erinnyis crameri), a tropical species that sporadically strays north into Southern California and southern Arizona. In the mid 1970s there was a naturally established breeding population on the campus of the University of California-Riverside, where the larvae fed on ornamental periwinkle (Vinca rosea, Apocynaceae). Since then it is has been occasionally reported as a stray in California. [source: Tuttle, James P. 2007. The Hawk Moths of North America. Wedge Entomological Research Foundation.] All known larval hostplants are in the Apocynaceae; besides Vinca, other commonly planted members of this family in Southern California include oleander (Nerium & Thevetia), and Plumeria. As the climate continues to warm it is reasonable to expect to see more southern species of insects occurring farther north, and this moth may once again be found breeding in SoCal.

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