Minnesota Moths

Order Lepidoptera

Lepidoptera is the order of insects that is characterized by having four large wings; mouthparts adapting for sucking, the proboscis in the form of a long coiled tube; and wings and body completely or mostly covered by scales. The order includes butterflies, skippers, and moths.

There are about 174,250 known species in 126 families worldwide, 12,423 species in 82 families in North America north of Mexico. There are at least 531 Lepidoptera species found in Minnesota.

No Taxonomic Rank: Moths

Differentiating moths and butterflies is complicated because on the tree of evolution (phylogenetically) butterflies are moths. There are 4 suborders and 44 superfamilies of Lepidoptera. Moths comprise three suborders and all but two superfamilies in in the fourth suborder, Glossata.

Moths have feathery or or thread-like antennae without knobs at the end. When at rest, moths hold their wings roof-like over their body, curled around their body, or flat against a support. All other differences have exceptions. Most moths fly at night, are smaller, and have drab wings. Most moths have one or more bristles (frenulum) and scales (retinaculum) that hold their forewings in contact with their hindwings. No butterflies have this feature.

About 93% of Lepidoptera species are moths. According The Lepidopterist’s Society, there are about 127,600 moth species worldwide, about 10,850 species in North America. There may also be between 1,500 and 3,500 undescribed species, mostly micromoths (Microlepidoptera). There are at least 370 moth species found in Minnesota.

cecropia moth








Recent Additions

Pandorus sphinx

Pandorus sphinx (Eumorpha pandorus) is a very large, dramatically patterned, sphinx moth. It is common and widespread in eastern United States. Adults fly at dusk from May to September. They have a wingspan of 3¼ to 4½, and a pale green background with a complex pattern of dark olive-green markings.

Humans are more likely to encounter caterpillars than adults. Known as hornworms, the caterpillars are found on grape and Virginia creeper in Minnesota, and also on peppervine elsewhere. They are very large, up to 3½ long, and consume copious amounts of foliage. They can completely defoliate young grape vines, ultimately killing them. Older vines can withstand the damage.

Pandorus sphinx is similar in appearance to Achemon sphinx (Eumorpha achemon). The latter species is smaller and less common, and the adults are brown, not green.

  pandorus sphinx
  Photo by Chad & Autumn Brekke

Sigmoid prominent

Sigmoid prominent (Clostera albosigma) is a medium-sized, heavy-bodied, nocturnal moth. It is the most common of the four Clostera species found in Minnesota. Adult moths are found from mid-May to mid-August in deciduous woodlands and forests, and in shrubby wetlands and fields.

A sigmoid prominent adult has grayish-brown wings, a dark brown head and upper thorax, and on the male, a dark brown tuft at the end of the abdomen. The wings are crossed by four pale lines. A dark, chestnut-brown area near the end of the forewing is sharply delineated by a prominent white “S”-shaped bar. The species name albosigma means “white S” and refers to this marking. Spring individuals are darker with more highly contrasting markings. Summer individuals are paler and less conspicuously marked.

The caterpillar feeds mostly on quaking aspen, but also on poplar and willow, and sometimes on alder, birch, maple, and elm. It is a solitary feeder. During the day it curls up a leaf of a host plant and sticks it together with silk webbing, make a shelter where it can feed in safety. Adults do not feed.

  sigmoid prominent
  Photo by Bill Reynolds

Pink underwing

Pink underwing (Catocala concumbens) is a medium to large sized, strikingly colored, underwing moth. It is common from northeastern United States, west to the Upper Midwest, and north to Manitoba and Alberta. In Minnesota it is more common in the northern half of the state.

Pink underwing adults are 1¼ to 1½ in length and have a wingspan of 2 to 3. The forewings are a nondescript, mottled gray and tan with a pale, kidney-shaped spot and two thin, jagged, black lines. The hindings are pink two black bands and a wide white fringe. They are active at night. When at rest the wings are folded roof-like over the body. When approached or disturbed they spread their forewings revealing the startling color of the hindwings, possibly to scare off or give it time to escape a predator.

There are 39 underwing moth species found in Minnesota, and most are similar in appearance. Pink underwing is distinguished by the pale colors and paler reniform spot on the forewings; and by the pink hindwings with a wide, straight, uninterrupted, white fringe.

  pink underwing
  Photo by Bill Reynolds

Arcigera flower moth

Arcigera flower moth (Schinia arcigera) is common and widespread across North America from the east coast to the Rocky Mountains. In Minnesota, it is found from late July to mid-September in fields with asters.

It is active at night and is attracted to light, but can be also found taking nectar on flowers during the day.

This is a small owlet moth. The adult is about ½ long and has a wingspan of to 1. It is distinguished from similar moths by dark brown and pale brown coloration, and by a white, smoothly curved, broadly S-shaped postmedial line.

  arcigera flower moth

Toothed somberwing

Toothed somberwing (Euclidia cuspidea) is common and widespread across North America from the east coast to the Rocky Mountains. In Minnesota, it is found from mid-May to early July in meadows and in woodland edges and openings with long grass.

It is active both day and night. When flushed from vegetation it flies rapidly for about 20 yards then drops to the ground. It rests with the wings held flat and the hindwings usually concealed. It is attracted to light.

This is a stout, medium-sized moth. The adult is about long and has a wingspan of 1 to 17 16. It is distinguished from similar moths by dark brown triangular spots on the forewing of the adult, and by the presence of reduced leg-like structures on the fourth abdominal segment of the caterpillar.

  toothed somberwing

Other Recent Additions

galium sphinx (Hyles gallii)

clearwing moth (Carmenta ithacae)

yellow-collared scape moth (Cisseps fulvicollis)

white-marked tussock moth (Orgyia leucostigma)

white-striped black (Trichodezia albovittata)

twirler moth (Scrobipalpula manierreorum)

  white-striped black
  Photo by Alfredo Colon








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Abbott’s sphinx (Sphecodina abbottii)














arcigera flower moth

banded tussock moth

















cecropia moth

celery looper

chickweed geometer

clearwing moth (Carmenta ithacae)











darling underwing

dingy cutworm moth

eastern tent caterpillar

forest tent caterpillar

geometer moth

golden borer

giant leopard moth

galium sphinx









greater black-letter dart






hitched arches

hummingbird clearwing

Isabella tiger moth

Leconte’s haploa

















milkweed tussock moth






nessus sphinx












one-eyed sphinx

pandorus sphinx

pink underwing

polyphemus moth









Robin’s carpenterworm









sigmoid prominent

small mocis

snowberry clearwing

















the neighbor



toothed somberwing



twirler moth (Scrobipalpula manierreorum)










Virginia ctenucha

Virginian tiger moth

white underwing

white-lined sphinx

white-striped black


yellow slant-line

yellow-collared scape moth


abbreviated underwing (Catocala abbreviatella)


achemon sphinx (Eumorpha achemon)


angle-lined prominent (Clostera inclusa)


angulose prominent (Peridea angulosa)


apical prominent (Clostera apicalis)


apple sphinx (Sphinx gordius)


arched hooktip (Drepana arcuata)

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arcigera flower moth (Schinia arcigera)


aster leafminer moth (Leucospilapteryx venustella)


artichoke plume moth (Platyptilia carduidactylus)


ash tip borer (Papaipema furcata)


aster leafminer moth (Leucospilapteryx venustella)


azalea sphinx (Darapsa choerilus)


banded tiger moth (Apantesis vittata)

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banded tussock moth (Halysidota tessellaris)


bicolored moth (Manulea bicolor)


big poplar sphinx (Pachysphinx occidentalis)


birch-leaf blotchminer moth (Cameraria betulivora)


black-rimmed prominent (Pheosia rimosa)


black-spotted prominent (Dasylophia anguina)


blinded sphinx (Paonias excaecata)


bracken borer (Papaipema pterisii)


briseis underwing (Catocala briseis)


buck moth (Hemileuca maia)


burdock borer (Papaipema cataphracta)


Canadian sphinx (Sphinx canadensis)


Carolina sphinx (Manduca sexta)


catalpa sphinx (Ceratomia catalpae)

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cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia)

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celery looper (Anagrapha falc ifera)


charming underwing (Catocala blandula)

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chickweed geometer (Haematopis grataria)


chocolate prominent (Peridea ferruginea)

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clearwing moth (Carmenta ithacae)


Clinton’s underwing (Catocala clintonii)


clouded underwing (Catocala nebulosa)


clymene moth (Haploa clymene)


Columbia silkmoth (Hyalophora columbia)


columbine borer (Papaipema leucostigma)


common eupithecia (Eupithecia miserulata)


common gluphisia (Gluphisia septentrionis)


common spring moth (Heliomata cycladata)


confused eusarca (Eusarca confusaria)


confused haploa (Haploa confusa)


connubial underwing (Catocala connubialis)


contracted datana (Datana contracta)


copper underwing (Amphipyra pyramidoides)


currant clearwing borer (Synanthedon tipuliformis)

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darling underwing (Catocala cara)

  Photo Photo

dingy cutworm moth (Feltia jaculifera)

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dogwood borer (Synanthedon scitula)


double-lined prominent (Lochmaeus bilineata)


double-toothed prominent (Nerice bidentata)


dull reddish dart (Xestia dilucida)

  Photo Photo

eastern tent caterpillar moth (Malacosoma americanum)


elegant prominent (Odontosia elegans)


ello sphinx (Erinnyis ello)


elm sphinx (Ceratomia amyntor)


epione underwing (Catocala epione)


eupatorium plume moth (Oidaematophorus eupatorii)


European yellow underwing (Noctua pronuba)


fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea)


five-spotted hawkmoth (Manduca quinquemaculata)


forage looper (Caenurgina erechtea)

  Photo Photo

forest tent caterpillar moth (Malacosoma disstria)

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galium sphinx (Hyles gallii)

  Photo Photo

geometer moth (Xanthotype spp.)


Georgian prominent (Hyperaeschra georgica)

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giant leopard moth (Hypercompe scribonia)


girlfriend underwing (Catocala amica)

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golden borer (Papaipema cerina)


goldenrod spindle-gall moth (Gnorimoschema gallaesolidaginis)


grape leaf miner moth (Phyllocnistis vitegenella)


grape leaf miner moth (Phyllocnistis vitifoliella)


grape plume moth (Geina periscelidactylus)


gray furcula (Furcula cinerea)


great ash sphinx (Sphinx chersis)


great tiger moth (Arctia caja)

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greater black-letter dart (Xestia dolosa)


green cloverworm moth (Hypena scabra)


habilis underwing (Catocala habilis)


hawthorn underwing (Catocala crataegi)


hermit sphinx (Lintneria eremitus)


hickory tussock moth (Lophocampa caryae)


Himmelman’s plume moth (Geina tenuidactylus)

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hitched arches (Melanchra adjuncta)

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hummingbird clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)


ilia underwing (Catocala ilia)


indigo stem borer (Papaipema baptisiae)


io moth (Automeris io)

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Isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella)


joe-pye-weed borer (Papaipema eupatorii)


Judith’s underwing (Catocala judith)


laurel sphinx (Sphinx kalmiae)


leadplant flower moth (Schinia lucens)

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Leconte’s haploa (Haploa lecontei)


lesser peachtree borer (Synanthedon pictipes)


lesser viburnum clearwing moth (Synanthedon fatifera)


lettered habrosyne (Habrosyne scripta)


lettered sphinx (Deidamia inscriptum)


linden looper (Erannis tiliaria)


linden prominent (Ellida caniplaga)


little carpenterworm (Prionoxystus macmurtrei)


little underwing (Catocala minuta)


luna moth (Actius luna)


maple callus borer (Synanthedon acerni)


maritime sunflower borer (Papaipema maritima)


meadow rue borer (Papaipema unimoda)

  Photo Photo

milkweed tussock moth (Euchaetes egle)


modest furcula (Furcula modesta)


modest sphinx (Pachysphinx modesta)


morning-glory plume moth (Emmelina monodactyla)


mother underwing (Catocala parta)


mournful thyris (Thyris sepulchris)


nais tiger moth (Apantesis nais)

  Photo Photo

nessus sphinx (Amphion floridensis)


Nevada buck moth (Hemileuca nevadensis)


Norman’s dart (Xestia normaniana)


North American gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar dispar)


northern apple sphinx (Sphinx poecila)


northern burdock borer (Papaipema arctivorens)


northern pine sphinx (Lapara bombycoides)


northern variable dart (Xestia badicollis)


northern willow clearwing (Synanthedon bolteri)


obscure sphinx (Erinnyis obscura)


obscure underwing (Catocala obscura)


oldwife underwing (Catocala palaeogama)


once-married underwing (Catocala unijuga)

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one-eyed sphinx (Smerinthus cerisyi)


orange-tipped oakworm moth (Anisota senatoria)


ornate moth (Utetheisa ornatrix)

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pandorus sphinx (Eumorpha pandorus)


peachtree borer (Synanthedon exitiosa)


phlox moth (Schinia indiana)

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pink underwing (Catocala concumbens)


pink-spotted hawkmoth (Agrius cingulata)


pink-striped oakworm moth (Anisota virginiensis)


pitch mass borer (Synanthedon pini)

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polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus)


praeclara underwing (Catocala praeclara)


promethea moth (Callosamia promethea)


ragweed flower moth (Schinia rivulosa)


ragweed plume moth (Adaina ambrosiae)


red maple borer (Synanthedon acerrubri)


residua underwing (Catocala residua)


reversed haploa (Haploa reversa)


rigid sunflower borer (Papaipema rigida)

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Robin’s carpenterworm (Prionoxystus robiniae)


Robinson’s underwing (Catocala robinsonii)


rose plume moth (Cnaemidophorus rhododactyla)


rosy maple moth (Dryocampa rubicunda)


saddled prominent (Heterocampa guttivitta)


scarlet underwing (Catocala coccinata)


semirelict underwing (Catocala semirelicta)


sensetive fern borer (Papaipema inquaesita)


setaceous Hebrew character (Xestia c-nigrum)

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sigmoid prominent (Clostera albosigma)


silphius borer (Papaipema silphii)


similar underwing (Catocala similis)


simple wave (Scopula junctaria)

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small mocis (Mocis latipes)


small-eyed sphinx (Paonias myops)


smeared dagger (Acronicta oblinita)


Smith’s dart (Xestia smithii)

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snowberry clearwing (Hemaris diffinis)


snowy geometer (Eugonobapta nivosaria)


sordid underwing (Catocala sordida)


sphinx moth (Family Sphingidae)


spiny oakworm moth (Anisota stigma)


spotted grass moth (Rivula propinqualis)


spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana)


spurge hawkmoth (Hyles euphorbiae)


stalk borer (Papaipema nebris)


sunflower borer (Papaipema necopina)


sweetfern underwing (Catocala antinympha)


tearful underwing (Catocala lacrymosa)


tersa sphinx (Xylophanes tersa)


the bride (Catocala neogama)


the little nymph (Catocala micronympha)


the neighbor (Haploa contigua)


the old maid (Catocala badia coelebs)


the penitent (Catocala piatrix)


the sweetheart (Catocala amatrix)


titan sphinx (Aellopos titan)

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toothed somberwing (Euclidia cuspidea)


turtle head borer (Papaipema nepheleptena)


twin-spotted sphinx (Smerinthus jamaicensis)


twirler moth (Scrobipalpula artemisiella)

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twirler moth (Scrobipalpula manierreorum)


two-lined hooktip (Drepana bilineata)


ultronia underwing (Catocala ultronia)


umbellifer borer (Papaipema birdi)


unicorn prominent (Schizura unicornis)


vashti sphinx (Sphinx vashti)


viburnum clearwing (Synanthedon viburni)


Virginia creeper sphinx (Darapsa myron)

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Virginia ctenucha (Ctenucha virginica)

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Virginian tiger moth (Spilosoma virginica)


walnut caterpillar moth (Datana integerrima)


walnut sphinx (Amorpha juglandis)


waved sphinx (Ceratomia undulosa)


western furcula (Furcula occidentalis)


western tent caterpillar (Malacosoma californica)


white slant-line (Tetracis cachexiata)

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white underwing (Catocala relicta)


white-blotched heterocampa (Heterocampa umbrata)


white-dotted prominent (Nadata gibbosa)

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white-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata)

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white-marked tussock moth (Orgyia leucostigma)


white-streaked prominent (Oligocentria lignicolor)

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white-striped black (Trichodezia albovittata)


Whitney“s underwing (Catocala whitneyi)


widow underwing (Catocala vidua)


wild cherry sphinx (Sphinx drupiferarum)


wonderful underwing (Catocala mira)


woody underwing (Catocala grynea)

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yarrow plume moth (Gillmeria pallidactyla)


yellow slant-line (Tetracis crocallata)


yellow-banded underwing (Catocala cerogama)

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yellow-collared scape moth (Cisseps fulvicollis)


yellow-gray underwing (Catocala retecta)


youthful underwing (Catocala subnata)




No Species Page Yet?

If you do not see a linked page for an insect in the list at left, or the insect does not appear in the list, you can still upload a photo or video as an email attachment or report a sighting for that insect. Click on one of the buttons below and type in the common name and/or scientific name of the insect in your photo, video, or sighting. A new page will be created for that insect featuring your contribution.


Capitalization of Common Names

Insect scientific names are governed by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN). Vernacular (common) names are not. In an attempt to “assure the uniformity of (common) names of common insects” the Entomological Society of America (ESA) published Common Names of Insects and Related Organisms. ESA has no rule or guideline that addresses capitalization of common names. However, the database of common names published by ESA does not capitalize common names. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) also uses uncapitalized common names. Most other sources, including ITIS, BAMONA, Odonata Central, and the Peterson Field Guides, capitalize common insect names. MinnesotaSeasons.com will adhere to the convention followed by ESA and NCBI.


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