Category: moths (Page 1 of 30)

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?

#PollinatorWeek Starts Today

Visit the Pollinator Week website and/or follow @Pollinators on Twitter for activities and events. Check their learning center education page for a massive list of curricula, educational tools, etc. They also have a webinar series for older students.

Our favorites include:

Bug of the Week: Moth Extravaganza

Bug of the Week has been re-booted by some recent rains here in Arizona. I’ve been getting notifications of insects that I haven’t seen for a long time. It’s so exciting!

Erinnyis ello caterpillar

Photograph by Peg Lynck, used with permission.

Take for instance this caterpillar a friend found on what she called a pencil cactus, Euphorbia sp.

Photograph by Peg Lynck, used with permission

Here are two more.

See those tiny, stubby horns at the back of the abdomen? That means they are members of the hornworm or sphinx moth family. A little research shows they are ello sphinx (Erinnyis ello) caterpillars.

Ello sphinx caterpillars vary quite a bit in color. Some are green, or a mix of green and brownish-gray.

Public domain image from Wikimedia

The adult moths are known for their lovely burnt orange underwings.

Here’s another moth that has been spotted a lot this summer.

Photograph by Peg Lynck, used with permission.

Given the memorable common name of black witch moth (Ascalapha odorata),the species is found in the southern United States through Central America and into South America. Flying at night, these relatively large moths can resemble bats. During the day they rest on the walls of houses.

The caterpillars feed on various legumes, including Acacia sp., Senna sp. and mesquites.

White-lined sphinx moths are also active now. They can be active during the day as well as at night.

It is wonderful to watch nature rebound after last year’s extreme heat and drought.

What moths are you seeing right now?

« Older posts