Subject:  White-lined Sphinx Moth, I Believe
Geographic location of the bug:  Coryell County, Texas
Date: 03/20/2018
Time: 01:09 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello again! Hope you are both well!
This beautiful moth was literally at my feet when I went to check on the creeping phlox, and hahahahaha the proboscis! A built-in bendy-straw, amazing. I don’t know if it was pink from nectar or a reflection from the pink phlox, and perhaps the yellow was from carrying some pollen as well, or perhaps it was its natural color (?).
The phlox is a huge hit with the pollinators, and I’m glad we planted so much of it. It’s an early bloomer here in  centralTexas. We saw pipevine swallowtails and black swallowtails nectaring at the phlox also this month. Lovely!
A reference I found:
Thank you and best wishes!
How you want your letter signed:  Ellen

Whitelined Sphinx

Hi Ellen,
It is so nice to hear from you after so much time.  Your images of a Whitelined Sphinx, AKA Striped Morning Sphinx, are gorgeous.  The underwings of the Whitelined Sphinx are actually pink, and not the result of any reflections.  We have fond memories of the summer phlox in Mom’s garden in Ohio back in the 1960s, and all the butterflies and diurnal moths they attracted.

Whitelined Sphinx

Thank you so much for the quick response and kind words! My poorly-written wondering was about the very-long proboscis. In several photos the proboscis actually looked pink at the flower end. I was wondering if the nectar itself is pink and showing through the membrane of the proboscis. The proboscis also seems to carry pollen in some of my photos. I apologize for the confusion, which I’ll blame either on my over-use of the pronoun “it”, the fact that I tend to ramble on too much,  or perhaps the late hour, or my amusement at the beautiful but very large and pink (!) moth.  The Sphinx makes me smile! Hopefully it will return again today.
Very best wishes to you both!

Whitelined Sphinx

Thanks for the clarification Ellen, but alas, we don’t know the answer to your questions.  We have now included a close-up crop of your image to show the proboscis.  Part of the effect is due to the lighting.  The Whitelined Sphinx often flies at dawn and dusk, and since, according to our friend lepidopterist Julian Donahue, Sphinx Moths are relatively long lived, you might see this individual over the next few weeks, and you might even see more.  Periodically, in arid environments, the Whitelined Sphinx populations explode.  We have found as many as eight or more individuals at our screen door some mornings.

What causes the color on the proboscis???

Eight moths at once, amazing! Your memories of phlox in the garden from when you were a child, wonderful. It’s a new plant for me, in the ground just two years, and it’s really taken off this year. I saw five different species of butterflies and moths visiting the phlox yesterday, including two individuals of the White-lined Sphinx moths, just beautiful. As always, I greatly appreciate our help and information. Thank you so very much. Best wishes!

Location: Coryell County, Texas

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