Molecular phylogenetic studies suggest that similar wing and body patterns in the hawkmoth genus Hyles Hübner,  do not necessarily reflect a close phylogenetic relationship. To improve our understanding of morphological evolution in these organisms, 75 characters derived from the external adult morphology are explicitly coded and analysed in a maximum parsimony cladistic framework. The results corroborate the hypothesis that wing and body patterns have indeed reappeared in different parts of the phylogeny but the underlying genetic mechanism remains to be determined. By reconstructing the suite of ancestral states of the morphological characters using Bayesian inference, we derived an approximation of the appearance of the proto-Hyles species. The overall habitus of this moth does not display a combination of characters found in any extant Hyles species. Rather, the forewings are most like those of members of the Hyles euphorbiae-complex but with better developed antemedial and postmedial lines, the hindwings are typical Hyles, and the abdominal pattern most closely resembles that of Hyles euphorbiarum (Guérin-Méneville & Percheron, 1835), but with one fewer pairs of black subdorsal patches. Within the context of the subtribe Choerocampina and Sphingidae more generally, the proto-Hyles reconstruction does not resemble any other species apart from Rhodafra opheltes (Cramer, 1780), but this appears to be another instance of convergent pattern expression.