Sweetbay Silkmoths are quite common in the right habitats, however,...for the best success in finding them, you need to know when, where, and how to look!
As the name implies, these guys are specialists on Sweetbay, Magnolia virginiana. Populations of this plant are scattered across the southeast and most abundant in coastal lowlands, pocosins, and swampy flood plains of the lower Piedmont and Fall-line Hills (seemingly most often in sandy soils). For obvious reasons, the moth is most frequently encountered in areas where the host plant is abundant, however, it can surprisingly show up in a few areas where the host seems rare. Generally there are two or three generations per year - depending on seasonal fluctuations, lat., & alt.
NOTE: This species is subject to some seasonal variation. Typically, the Spring forms are lighter and brighter and the summer generations are usually darker and/or more washed out in appearance.