Category: Bug of the Week (Page 1 of 218)

Bug of the Week: Desert Hackberry Butterflies

On a recent hike, my son joked that we could identify one type of tree by recognizing the butterflies hanging around it.

The butterflies were the Empress Leilias,

and American snout butterflies.

Can you guess the tree?

In this case it was the desert hackberry, Celtis pallida.

Unlike its relative the netleaf hackberry (previous post), the desert hackberry keeps its leaves all winter long.  When ripe, the bright orange fruit are a favorite of many species of birds.

A tree that supports both birds and butterflies, doesn’t require much water, and is green all year? Sounds like a wonderful choice for desert landscaping!

Sunflowers For Bees, Birds, and Butterflies

Every year a small patch of wild sunflowers pops up in my front yard.  And every year I’m amazed at how many living things use them for food and shelter. Take last week:

One flower had this teeny, tiny praying mantis nymph.

This flower was so popular, it had a skipper butterfly and a digger bee. Can you see the bee?

Every morning a small flock of lesser goldfinches hang from the sunflower seed heads, pulling out the seeds. I have never gotten a good photo or video, but this is what they look like:


The birds drop and scatter enough seeds so that next year there’s sure to be another patch of sunflowers sprouting up.

Do you grow sunflowers?  What visitors do you see?

Bug of the Week: White-lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Why did the caterpillar cross the road?

Last week we went for a drive and in one area the white-lined sphinx caterpillars were crawling across the road. They weren’t in large numbers, but noticeable. Why were they doing that?

Adult white-lined sphinx

The caterpillars could have run out of food plants and were looking for another snack, but the more likely explanation was that they were in the “wandering phase.” When caterpillars have finished eating and growing, they may wander around looking for an ideal place to dig into the soil and pupate. Sometimes they wander onto roads, but they really do want to see what’s on the other side.

Have you seen any white-lined sphinx caterpillars or moths lately?

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