Sphingidae : Sphinginae
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Photo © Ben Sale,  Bramfield Woods, Hertfordshire (13/06/20)

Similar Herts & Middlesex Species
Convolvulus Hawk-moth
Agrius convolvuli
Privet Hawk-moth
Sphinx ligustri
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Pine Hawk-moth
Sphinx pinastri

(Linnaeus, 1758) 1978 / 69.007
=Hyloicus pinastri

General comments:
Regular immigrant from Europe: Localised resident, at least in Hertfordshire, perhaps being limited by availability of suitable tree groups.
From the early 1990s onwards, the number of records increased from all over the county and by 2000 it was clear that the moth was common and established as a resident. In southern Europe, our Pine Hawk is replaced by a different species, Sphinx maurorum Jordan, the Southern Pine Hawk. The two are identical in appearance and can only be separated by characters of the genitalia, which are striking and easy to see with a hand lens; since Hertfordshire Pine Hawks originate from immigrant stock, it would not go amiss to check occasional specimens.

Hertfordshire Notes: Foster (1937) notes that the diary of H. W. Lucas records Hitchin '1844.9.Mo/18. Had a curious and rare moth brought yesterday called the pine hawk moth, said to be rarely found in England'. This appears to be the first Hertfordshire record, although there was one at Colney Hatch Wood, just over the border in Middlesex, in about 1800 (Haworth, 1803). There appear to be no more records until one at Northchurch on 31 July 1948 (Bell, 1952, who regarded the Hitchin record as 'very doubtful' but without any justification). Curiously, Bell (1953) records the third county example, at Harpenden during June 1951 by C. B. Williams, without any expression of surprise or any other comment. Riley (1999) indicates no further records of this species at Rothamsted until one in 1990 and one in 1996. Lorimer recorded singles at Totteridge on 23rd July 1953, 27th July 1953 and 1st June 1954, but caught no more in the garden trap before leaving the area in 1980. The next report was from the northern outskirts of Bishops Stortford, with one on 9th July 1955 (Clifford Craufurd), but there were no more until Charles Watson caught one on the southern side of the town in 1992. In the same town, there were none in my garden from 1986 to 2001, with my first arriving in 2002, perhaps suggesting that earlier records from Bishops Stortford may relate to immigrants or vagrants from elsewhere; the trap has been in direct view of a line of mature Scots Pine trees throughout the entire period.

Middlesex Notes: Regular immigrant in low number, though no sign of residency. Under-recording is likely to be a significant factor, certainly so in the east of the county.

Recorded in 32 (78%) of 41 10k Squares.
First Recorded in 1940.
Last Recorded in 2023.
Additional Stats

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List Species Records   [Show All Latest]
Latest 5 Records
Date#VC10k Area
10/08/2023120SP91 - Tring
09/08/2023120TL43 - Meesden / Barley
09/08/2023120TL43 - Meesden / Barley
09/08/2023120TL21 - Welwyn Garden City
07/08/2023120TL23 - Letchworth / Baldock
Show Details | 1990 to 2023 | 2000 to 2023 | Graph Key
Express Record Pine Hawk-moth
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VC20 VC21 VC21 VC20
Click Map for Details
Forewing: 35-41mm
Flight: One generation May-August
Foodplant:   Scots Pine, Corsican Pine, Norway Spruce
Red List: Least Concern (LC)
GB Status: Common
Former Status: Local
Verification Grade:  Adult: 1
 Immature Adult   [Show Flight Weeks]
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