Center for Systematic Entomology, Gainesville, Florida


ORCID IDs M. C. Rose-Smyth

Date of this Version



Rose-Smyth MC, Askew RR, Stafford PA van B, Simon MJ, Goss GJ, Rozycki R. 2022. A checklist of the hawkmoths (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) of the Cayman Islands: with implications for the pollination of the ghost orchid Dendrophylax fawcettii Rolfe (Orchidaceae: Angraecinae) and consideration of bat predation. Insecta Mundi 0933: 1–27.


Published on May 27, 2022 by Center for Systematic Entomology, Inc. P.O. Box 141874 Gainesville, FL 32614-1874 USA

Copyright held by the author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons, Attribution Non-Commercial License


This checklist synthesises historic collections of Sphingidae (Lepidoptera) made during the summer months in the Cayman Islands in 1938 and 1975 with modern records drawn from a variety of sources. We report observations and collections made in all seasons of the year and provide natural history and larval food details. Four species, Phryxus caicus (Cramer) in all three islands, plus Isognathus rimosa (Grote), Enyo lugubris (Linnaeus), and Eumorpha satellitia (Linnaeus) in Grand Cayman only, are here reported as new records, for a total of 25 sphingid species occurring in the Cayman Islands. Seven species are new records for Grand Cayman, five are added for Little Cayman and two for Cayman Brac. Potential hawkmoth pollinators for the Cayman Islands endemic ghost orchid, Dendrophylax fawcettii Rolfe (Orchidaceae: Angraecinae) are reviewed and Cayman records of hawkmoths as prey of the big-eared bat Macrotus waterhousii minor Gundlach (Phyllostomidae) are discussed.

The hawkmoths (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) of the Cayman Islands are the only moths to have received more than passing treatment as a group in the published literature. The catalogue provided by Askew (1994) remains the most recent, and with one exception, is based only on collections made in the early rainy seasons of 1938 and 1975. The results of the Oxford University Biological Expedition to all three Cayman Islands, conducted between April and August 1938, were reported by Jordan (1940), and those of the Royal Society–Cayman Islands Government Expedition to Little Cayman in June–July 1975 by Askew (1980). These combined lists, to which Askew (1994) was able to add the 1911 specimen of Pachylia ficus (Linnaeus) from Grand Cayman deposited at the Natural History Museum, London by T.M. Savage English, resulted in a total of twenty-one species of Sphingidae reported from the Cayman Islands as of 1994. Since that time, insect collections have been established at the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, the Department of Environment and the Department of Agriculture. The authors have also made personal collections. Particularly since the advent of digital equipment, photographic images of hawkmoths made by resident and visiting naturalists have provided significant primary records and supplemental data. This checklist synthesises the historic collections and the modern records, reports occurrence for all months of the year, and provides natural history information where available. We assess the larval food plant availability, the affinities and permanence of the sphingid fauna of the islands.