Thursday, October 10, 2013

White-lined Sphinx Moth and Caterpillar

 While hiking today I found and photographed this White-lined Sphinx caterpillar eating the leaf of an Evening Primrose plant. There were still a couple of flowers blooming on the plant. 

By coincidence someone had brought in an adult moth found in their garden a few days ago, so here are their pictures together, something I haven't seen at the same time before.

The caterpillar has the characteristic tail of all sphinx moth caterpillars, but is more boldly colored than most other sphinxes.

Unfortunately, this caterpillar has almost no chance of surviving to adulthood.

 White-lined Sphinx moths immigrate north into our area most years and lay eggs while also drinking the nectar from our flowers.  But the Minnesota winters are too cold for the larvae/pupae to survive, so any moths seen next year will be newly immigrated from southern areas.
Shinx moths hover in front of flowers like hummingbirds to drink nectar, and this species is as big as a humming bird.  But it is more active in the evenings and at night, which accounts for its big eyes. 

During the day the bright underwing colors are covered up as the moth camouflages itself on some tree bark or dead leaves.

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