White Lined Sphinx Moth Spiritual Meaning: Unveiling the Hidden Messages

The white-lined sphinx moth is a fascinating creature with unique features that have captured the attention of those interested in spirituality. As you dive into the world of these moths, you may find yourself uncovering deeper meanings and symbolism connected to your own life.

This large, stout-bodied moth has a wingspan of 2½ to 3½ inches and is known for its distinctive appearance with furry brown bodies and striking white stripes. Some people believe that the white-lined sphinx moth holds spiritual significance, representing transformation, adaptability, and resilience.

When it comes to the white-lined sphinx moth, keep an open mind as you explore its spiritual meaning. You may find personal insights that resonate with your experiences and guide you on your journey of self-discovery.

The Symbolism of the White Lined Sphinx Moth

The white-lined sphinx moth holds deep symbolism and spiritual meaning. Often representing transformation, these moths are associated with growth, change, and adaptability.

In many cultures, moths are seen as symbols of intuition and spiritual development. The white-lined sphinx moth’s ability to navigate through the night serves as a reminder to trust your instincts as you journey through life.

Another interesting aspect of the white-lined sphinx moth is its vivid coral coloring. This color can symbolize passion, warmth, and energy in your spiritual journey.

The caterpillar stage of the white-lined sphinx moth also represents the initial stages of a spiritual transformation. As the caterpillar metamorphoses into the moth, it signifies shedding an old self and embracing a new, more enlightened existence.

Here are some characteristics of the white-lined sphinx moth which contribute to its symbolism:

  • Large, stout-bodied moth with a wingspan of 2½ to 3½ inches
  • Furry brown body with six white stripes
  • Coral-colored hindwings
  • Ability to navigate through the night

To fully appreciate the spiritual meaning of the white-lined sphinx moth, observe its beauty and grace as it navigates the world. Let it inspire you and remind you of the potential for transformation and growth within yourself.

Moths in Art and Culture

White-lined sphinx moths hold a special place in various art forms and cultures. You may come across these fascinating creatures in paintings, murals, and even poetry. They often symbolize transformation, intuition, and other spiritual meanings. Here, we’ll touch upon the cultural significance of these moths and their presence in Native American traditions.

In Native American culture, moths are often seen as messengers from the spirit world, carrying important teachings and guidance. For some tribes, the white-lined sphinx moth represents the ability to adapt and change, as they undergo a remarkable transformation during their life cycle. In this context, the moth serves as a symbol of personal growth and the journey to self-discovery.

These captivating creatures have also made their way into the world of art. You can find depictions of white-lined sphinx moths in various mediums, such as paintings and sculptures, often highlighting their symbolic connections to transformation and renewal. Artists have been inspired by their intricate designs, vibrant colors, and mystic aura.

The following are some key points about the cultural significance of white-lined sphinx moths:

  • Messengers from the spirit world in Native American culture
  • Symbolize transformation and intuition
  • Represent adaptability and personal growth
  • Inspiration for various forms of artistry

As you explore the world of art and culture, keep an eye out for the white-lined sphinx moth and its spiritual significance. Their presence serves as a reminder of the continuous process of transformation that we all experience in our lives and the beautiful mysteries of the natural world.

Interpretation in Dreams

Dreams can carry significant spiritual meanings, especially when you encounter specific symbols or creatures. The white-lined sphinx moth, a large, furry brown moth with white stripes, may appear in your dreams as a messenger or indication of psychic abilities.

When you see a white-lined sphinx moth in your dreams, consider the following interpretations:

  • Messages: Moths are often seen as carriers of messages from the spiritual realm. The presence of a white-lined sphinx moth in your dream could signify that you are receiving important guidance or insights.
  • Psychic abilities: The moth’s unique appearance and ability to navigate the dark can symbolize your innate psychic potential. If you frequently dream of this creature, it may be a prompt for you to explore and develop your intuitive gifts.

Here are some possible reasons for the moth’s appearance in your dream:

  • Personal transformation: The moth’s life cycle involves metamorphosis, symbolizing growth and self-improvement. Seeing a white-lined sphinx moth could signify that you are undergoing a profound transformation in your life.
  • Attraction to the light: Moths are drawn towards light sources, and this could represent your curiosity, pursuit of knowledge, or spiritual awakening. The presence of the moth in your dream might be an indication that you are being guided towards a higher consciousness.

To better understand the spiritual message behind your dream, try doing the following:

  1. Reflect on the emotions and events related to the moth in your dream. Determine if they connect to aspects of your waking life or spiritual journey.
  2. Pay attention to other symbols or occurrences in the dream. These additional details can provide context and clarity to the moth’s appearance.

As you explore the significance of the white-lined sphinx moth in your dreams, stay open to the insights and messages it may bring. By paying attention to these spiritual symbols, you can deepen your understanding of your personal growth and psychic abilities.

The Moth as a Spirit Guide

The white-lined sphinx moth carries spiritual significance as a spirit guide in various cultures. This large moth with its unique appearance can symbolize different aspects of life and spirituality.

In some Native American cultures, the moth is often associated with the spirit world and transformation. Its metamorphosis from caterpillar to moth signifies growth and change. Embracing the moth as your spirit animal may guide you through personal transformations.

As an animal totem, the sphinx moth represents adaptability and resilience. With their strong wings and ability to fly, they show us the importance of being open to change, adapting, and moving forward in life.

Here are some of the characteristics of the white-lined sphinx moth as a spirit guide:

  • Symbol of transformation and change
  • Connection to the spirit world
  • Represents adaptability and resilience
  • Guides through personal growth and development

In summary, connecting with the white-lined sphinx moth as a spirit guide can help you navigate through your own personal changes and growth. Embrace these lessons and allow this beautiful creature to guide you on your spiritual journey.

From Caterpillar to Moth: A Tale of Transformation

When you observe the life cycle of the white-lined sphinx moth, it tells a story of transformation and adaptation. Starting as a caterpillar, this creature undergoes a series of changes, embracing metamorphosis and eventually emerging as the beautiful moth we know.

In the beginning, the caterpillar feeds on the leaves of various host plants. As it grows, it sheds its skin multiple times in a process called molting. This development is essential for the caterpillar’s transition into its next phase.

During the pupal stage, the caterpillar retreats into a cocoon. Inside, its body is secretly undergoing an incredible transformation. By breaking down its previous form, it reshapes and rebuilds itself into the awe-inspiring white-lined sphinx moth.

When the time comes, the moth emerges, displaying its striking, long, narrow, triangular forewings and shorter hindwings. Boasting a wingspan of 2½ to 3½ inches, this unique creature can hover like a hummingbird, thanks to its fast-beating wings source.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate some features of the white-lined sphinx moth:

  • Blends in with dark olive brown-colored forewings
  • Showcases a broad tan band across each forewing
  • Has six white stripes running across its furry brown body

The entire journey of the white-lined sphinx moth serves as a spiritual symbol of transformation and renewal. As you reflect on the changes this creature undergoes, remember the importance of embracing life’s challenges and adapting to new situations, using them as opportunities for personal growth.

Associations with Life and Death

The white-lined sphinx moth has long fascinated people with its associations with life, death, and rebirth. Its unique life cycle is symbolic of transformation and change. As you observe the moth’s metamorphosis, you may see it as a reminder of your own personal growth and the cycles of life that each of us experience.

These moths are sometimes seen as spiritual messengers, particularly when they appear close to the passing of a loved one. Their presence can be interpreted as a sign that the deceased is being guided towards the afterlife, and that their spirit remains close to the living. They may also be understood as connecting us to our ancestors and reminding us of the importance of honoring those who came before us.

In some cultural beliefs, a white-lined sphinx moth’s sudden appearance may be perceived as a bad omen, often associated with death or a reminder of the fragile nature of life. This interpretation is similar to that of the death’s-head hawkmoth, another species thought to foretell misfortune. However, it is essential not to make exaggerated or false claims about the symbolic meaning of these moths. They are, after all, living creatures with their own ecological roles in our natural world.

To better understand the white-lined sphinx moth and its symbolism, consider these key features:

  • Life cycle: metamorphosis from larva to pupa to adult moth
  • Symbolism: transformation, change, growth
  • Spiritual connections: ancestors, loved ones, afterlife
  • Potential omens: death, fragility of life

It is important to approach these interpretations with a friendly, open mind, and remember that symbols can hold different meanings for each of us. The white-lined sphinx moth is a beautiful, intriguing creature that invites reflection on our own growth, spiritual connections, and the cycles of life and death.

Moths and Nature

The White-lined Sphinx Moth (Hyles lineata), a fascinating creature, is known for its deep connection with nature. You might have come across them while venturing outdoors, appreciating their captivating colors and patterns.

These moths have sturdy bodies with impressive wingspans that not only enable fast flight but also allow them to hover in place, much like a hummingbird. They are attracted to various flowers, seeking out their nectar while playing a vital role as pollinators.

Consider the environments they thrive in, like gardens, grasslands, and even deserts. By taking the time to do so, you may find that their presence has a unique meaning that speaks to your spirit. For instance, their attraction to flame and light symbolize the pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment.

White-lined Sphinx Moths exhibit a fascinating bond with their host plants, such as elm and grape leaves. As larvae, they feed on these leaves to gain enough energy and sustenance to eventually undergo their metamorphosis.

Incorporating these elements in your spiritual practice can lead to deep reflections on growth, transformation, and the harmonious balance of life. Taking inspiration from their role in nature, you can develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the interconnectedness of the world around you.

As you venture into the world of nature and spirituality, keep in mind the unique qualities of the White-lined Sphinx Moth:

  • Efficient and strong wings enabling them to fly and hover
  • Their role in pollination, helping flowers and plants to thrive
  • A profound connection with nature and host plants such as elm and grape
  • Attraction to light, representing the pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment

Remember to incorporate these powerful symbols into your spiritual journey, fostering a connection with yourself, nature, and the world around you, all the while appreciating the remarkable creatures that are White-lined Sphinx Moths.

Moths as Messengers and Omens

White-lined sphinx moths are fascinating creatures that some believe hold spiritual meanings. In this section, we’ll explore the idea of these moths as messengers and omens, and how their unique characteristics relate to spiritual themes such as innocence, warnings, and bad luck.

You may find the appearance of a white-lined sphinx moth to be an important message from the universe. These moths are known for their vibrant colors and unmistakable patterns, which can symbolize liveliness and energy. They are often seen as messengers due to their swift movements and ability to make long migrations.

In many cultures, moths are seen as omens or warnings. Sometimes, their presence could be a reminder for you to be wary of potential pitfalls or dangers in your life. Be attentive to the appearance of these moths, as they could be trying to communicate something important to you.

Innocence is another attribute associated with white-lined sphinx moths. Their delicate beauty and the gentle movements they make while hovering near flowers can evoke a sense of purity and grace. Embracing the energy of innocence may help you reconnect with your own inner child or find a fresh perspective in your life.

On the other hand, some people might associate moths with bad luck or misfortune. This belief could stem from the fact that moths are drawn to light, sometimes leading them to their demise. While it’s essential to take these views with a grain of salt, it’s worth considering the life lesson of being mindful of our own attractions and distractions.

To sum it up, these are some associations with white-lined sphinx moths as messengers and omens:

  • Messenger: Swift movements and migrations
  • Warning: Potential pitfalls or dangers
  • Innocence: Delicate beauty and gentle movements
  • Bad luck: Attraction to light and potential demise

Remember to keep an open mind and explore the spiritual meanings behind the presence of white-lined sphinx moths in your life. Embrace their energies and consider the messages they may be trying to convey.

The Spiritual Significance of Moth Colors

White-lined sphinx moths are fascinating creatures known for their vivid coral coloring. When it comes to the spiritual significance of moths and their colors, various interpretations can be found.

One common belief is that the color of the moth represents different meanings. White moths, for instance, may symbolize purity, innocence, and transformation. In contrast, black moths, like the black witch moth, can signify deep wisdom, intuition, and the unveiling of hidden truths.

Brown moths are believed to represent grounding and earthy energies. These creatures remind you to stay connected to the Earth and appreciate the beauty of nature.

Now, let’s look at some of the spiritual meanings associated with these moths:

  • White moth: Symbolizes purity, innocence, and transformation.
  • Black witch moth: Signifies deep wisdom, intuition, and the unveiling of hidden truths.
  • Brown moth: Represents grounding, earthy energies, and a reminder to appreciate nature.

You might also find it helpful to compare the spiritual meanings of moths using a simple table:

Moth Color Spiritual Meaning
White Purity, innocence, transformation
Black Deep wisdom, intuition, unveiling of hidden truths
Brown Grounding, earthy energies, appreciation of nature

By understanding the spiritual significance of moth colors, you can learn more about their hidden messages and potential meanings in your life. With this knowledge, you can use these beautiful creatures as a reminder to nurture your inner spirit, stay grounded, and appreciate the wonders of the natural world.

Meaning of Moth in Various Cultures

In many cultures, moths are seen as symbols of transformation and spiritual growth. Let’s explore the significance of the white-lined sphinx moth in Native American, Chinese, and other cultures.

In Native American culture, moths are often associated with the spirit world. They’re considered messengers and guides who help us connect with our lost loved ones or understand our dreams. When you see a white-lined sphinx moth, it could symbolize a spiritual messenger or a sign of wisdom from your ancestors.

In Chinese culture, moths are linked to love and relationships. They carry the romantic message of a lover, symbolizing their determination and devotion, even in the face of challenges. Encountering a white-lined sphinx moth might indicate the strength of love and matters of the heart in your life.

In some general cultural beliefs, moths are connected to rebirth and transformation. As moths go through metamorphosis from caterpillar to adult, they represent the natural cycle of life and changes one encounters during their journey. Witnessing a white-lined sphinx moth could serve as a gentle reminder to embrace personal growth and change with open arms.

Overall, the white-lined sphinx moth holds various spiritual meanings in different cultures. Whether it serves as a message from the spirit world, a symbol of love, or a reminder for personal growth, the presence of these mystical creatures invites reflection and introspection.

Influencing the Mind, Heart and Soul

The White Lined Sphinx Moth holds deep spiritual significance, which can influence your mind, heart, and soul. It represents a range of emotions and states, affecting different aspects of your life.

In terms of the mind, the moth’s presence often symbolizes intuition and heightened awareness. When you encounter this beautiful creature, it may inspire you to rely on your inner voice allowing your thoughts to guide your decision-making, promoting spiritual growth.

As for the heart, the moth signifies love and forms of connection. It encourages you to open up emotionally and be receptive to the affections of others. This might result in deeper, more meaningful relationships and a strong sense of joy that mends broken bonds.

The soul is represented by the moth’s ability to bring messages of hope and comfort. Its appearance reassures you that your spiritual path is aligned with your life’s purpose. The moth offers solace and guidance whenever you’re feeling lost or fearful.

Embracing the spiritual meaning behind the White Lined Sphinx Moth brings new beginnings filled with positive energy. It can lead to:

  • Overcoming any fears that may hold you back
  • Developing unwavering faith in your abilities
  • Repairing relationships for a more fulfilling life

A few key characteristics of the White Lined Sphinx Moth’s influence on your spiritual journey include:

  • Mind: Intuition, awareness, thought guidance
  • Heart: Love, connection, emotional openness
  • Soul: Hope, comfort, faith

Overall, the spiritual impact of the White Lined Sphinx Moth is vast, touching on aspects of mind, love, faith, intuition, and new beginnings, enriching your life, heart, and soul.

Personal Growth and Spiritual Awakening

The white-lined sphinx moth can be a symbol of personal growth, new beginnings, and staying true to yourself. Through its transformative life cycle, it represents the process of shedding old layers and embracing new ones. As you pursue your spiritual journey, consider the moth’s metamorphosis as a metaphor for your own growth and evolution.

Meditation and inner wisdom can help you manifest success, connecting with the moth’s symbolism. For example:

  • The moth begins life as a caterpillar, just as you grow and learn through various stages of life. Embrace this ongoing process of change.
  • Emphasize the importance of personal growth as you cultivate inner wisdom and self-awareness through meditation and mindfulness.
  • Recognize the value of starting anew and pursuing your goals with determination, just like the white-lined sphinx moth taking flight after its transformation.

Incorporating these lessons from the white-lined sphinx moth into your spiritual practice can lead to powerful growth and self-discovery. As you stay true to your path, remember to embrace change, nurture your inner wisdom, and find new beginnings wherever you can.

Interpreting the Moth’s Behavior and Appearance

The White-lined Sphinx moth, (scientifically known as the Hyles lineata) is a captivating creature. Belonging to the hawk moth family, this moth catches attention with its intricately patterned forewings and its large size.

When observing the White-lined Sphinx, you may notice it hovering above flowers, sipping nectar from blossoms in a manner similar to a hummingbird. It showcases a unique relationship with nature, highlighting the interconnectedness of all living beings.

There are a few key features of the White-lined Sphinx that you might find spiritually significant:

  • Impressive forewings adorned with striking white lines
  • A moth of considerable size and strength
  • Sipping nectar from flowers, just like hummingbirds

These characteristics can inspire different interpretations of the White-lined Sphinx moth’s spiritual meaning. For example, its bold appearance may represent confidence and self-expression, while the way it gathers nectar might remind you of the importance of nurturing yourself and others.

In terms of symbolism, the White-lined Sphinx can be associated with versatility and adaptability, given its unique feeding habits. It might also evoke a sense of transformation, as moths are often linked to change due to their life cycle.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: horned caterpillar
Location: Mannington, New Jersey
September 4, 2012 1:34 pm
A friend found two of these caterpillars crossing her driveway. The lawn it crossed is very large and bordered by woods. It reminds me of a Tomato Hornworm but the spots are very different and it does not have the diagonal stripes. It is 2.5 inches in length.
Signature: MEP

White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear MEP,
Late summer and early autumn caterpillar sightings are very common because the caterpillars have reached their full size and often leave the plants upon which they were feeding to seek appropriate places for pupation.  You caterpillar is that of the highly variable White Lined Sphinx, and it is in the same family as the Tomato Hornworm.  White Lined Sphinx caterpillars range in color from black through orange and yellow to green.  Your individual is greener than we usually see.

Letter 2 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: sphinx moth caterpillar?
Location: central oregon high desert
August 16, 2012 12:12 pm
Hi there,
Love your site and have used to figure out what i have seen several times, but this is the first time I have sent in a photo. I found this caterpillar August 16th on Grizzly Mt. in Central Oregon (high desert habitat). Don’t know the plant it is on but think it is probably some type of sphinx moth. Can you help?
Signature: Elayne Barclay

White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Elayne,
This is one color variation of the highly variable caterpillar of the White Lined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx,
Hyles lineata.  You can find a matching photo in the image of three color morphs on The Sphingidae of the Americas website as well as this photograph from BugGuideThe White Lined Sphinx is one of the most common Sphinx Moths in North America and it is found in all 48 continental states as well as Canada and Mexico.  Both the caterpillars and adults appear in prodigious numbers when conditions are favorable.  Since we will be away from the office this weekend, we are postdating your submission to go live on Sunday during our absence.

Wow Daniel, I never expected such a quick response! As soon as I sent the message the next page of sphinx larvae I looked at had the white-lined sphinx and I thought that was the guy. I’ve seen an adult once and was floored, so cool!
Thanks so much!
Elayne

Letter 3 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: Arizona Caterpillars
Location: Congress AZ
September 9, 2012 11:05 pm
Went out this morning to find these little guys all over the ground. I have been in AZ for over 4 yrs now, (5th summer) and I have never seen these before. We have had a lot more rain this summer so we have a lot more vegatation on the ground. They are so thick in this ground cover that you can barely walk without stepping on one. I also noticed that they seem to be trying to burrow into the ground.
Signature: M Lamon

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear M Lamon,
This is the caterpillar of the Whitelined Sphinx,
Hyles lineata, a highly variable caterpillar that is found in all 48 continental states.  Larvae feed on a variety of plants, ensuring the wide range enjoyed by the species.  Numbers can be especially numerous in desert regions where yearly populations fluctuate with the amount of vegetation, and years with more rain produce more vegetation.  In some locations, the caterpillars can be so numerous as to cover the ground, as your letter indicates.  The caterpillars pupate underground which is why you observed so many of them digging beneath the surface.

Letter 4 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

What is this?
Hi there,
I’m attaching a photo of what I would think is a hornworm, but I haven’t found any photos anywhere of this caterpillar. They showed up 3 days ago, overnight, and they are everywhere! In the garden, the driveway, the lawn, backyard… they are even climbing the stucco walls of my home. Help! I’ve been scooping them into 5 gallon buckets… what else can I do? I live in Sedona, Az. Thanks,
Norma

Hi Norma,
There are at least three distinct color variations of the White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles lineata, and this is one of them.

Letter 5 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Sphinx moth caterpillar in October?
Location:  Susquehanna Valley, PA
October 3, 2010 7:54 pm
Hi Bugman!
I work at a large greenhouse, so I see quite a few critters indoors and out. It’s always fun to try identifying bugs I don’t recognize and your website has come in handy many times. Whenever a coworker asks me about a bug, I always point them to your site first.
Although I’m familiar with tobacco and tomato hornworms, the one that I found today was neither. Perusing your site, I believe it’s a Whitelined Sphinx Moth caterpillar. I was surprised to find this over 3” long caterpillar crawling across the outside thruway, away from the fields and plants, especially since I rarely see any this late in the year. Also, aren’t these typically found in desert locales? I had time to snap one shot with my phone before making sure the caterpillar got out of harm’s way before it was run over.
I hope my guess is correct. Thanks for all the great info here!
Signature:  CJ

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear CJ,
Your identification of the Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata, is correct.  The deserts of the Southwest are known for seasonal population explosions of these caterpillars when weather conditions and food requirements are ideal, but this is also the widest ranging Sphinx Moth in North America.  Because the caterpillars can be so plentiful, they were an important food for the indigenous people of the southwest.  The Whitelined Sphinx can be found in all 48 lower states as well as Mexico and Canada.  The Data page on BugGuide shows the distribution of reports to that site, and Bill Oehlke’s website, Sphingidae of the Americas, has wonderful information on the species.  The caterpillars will feed on a wide variety of plants including the greenhouse staple Fuschia.

Letter 6 – White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Strange Caterpillar
Location: Olathe, Kansas
October 3, 2011 7:22 pm
We saw this caterpillar today in the parking lot of a local nature center. No one in our group had ever seen one like it before. It was about three to four inches long and about half an inch thick.
We tried to shift it onto a piece of paper to move it into the grass; it reacted by violently wriggling side to side, almost like a snake. (We stopped trying and left it alone.)
Any idea what it is?
Signature: Joyce and Josh

White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Joyce and Josh,
This is the highly variable caterpillar of the White Lined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx,
Hyles lineata.  In addition to this black form, some individuals are green and others are yellow.  The caterpillars of the White-Lined Sphinx are edible.

Thanks very much for the information!  We appreciate it but we will not be eating any White-Lined Sphinx caterpillars anytime soon.

Letter 7 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Valley Carpenter Bee and White Lined Sphinx Hornworm

Thanks for your article identifying the “fuzzy blonde bees” that have been patrolling our hillside for the last week. I’m so glad my Yahoo search came up with your page. It was very hard to find any info on anything but black carpenter bees, even in our 3 or 4 insect field guides only one mentioned that carpenter bees could be coloured differently.
We have a current troop of about 5 “blonde boys” and as of yet, no sign of their black female counterparts.
I’ve attached a jpg of a larvae we have found here lately. Have never seen it before in 7 years… Now we’ve seen two, both striped with anal horns. One, in the creek, was much darker than this one, but on both the horn and the mouthparts are gold. We have very few domestic plants around our cabin in the National Forest, but tons of nightshade. Could these be hornworms of some type? They are quite lovely to behold, but a very odd find here.
Thanks,
V Novo

Dear V Novo,
The male Valley Carpenter Bees, Xylocopa varipuncta, are much shorter lived than the females. I have been seeing female bees this spring, visiting my Honey Suckle as well as the Wisteria.
Your caterpillar is a White Lined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx, Hyles lineata, a beautiful moth with a three inch wingspan. I have been seeing adult moths on the USC campus, resting in the eaves of the outdoor hallways near the art building. They have an almost infinite list of food plants, but are very fond of fuschia.

Letter 8 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: Caterpillar ID
Location: Minnesota
March 4, 2016 5:42 pm
Hi
I found this caterpillar last year ( 2015) in the summer in Minnesota. Do you know what variety of hornworm it is ?
Signature: Stephanie T.

White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar
White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Stephanie,
This is a common color variation of the highly variable and wide ranging White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata.

White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar
White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Wow!  thank  you!  for the response  🙂  I truly appreciate it.  I  do try to find the answer for myself, so i don’t bug people,  no pun intended!  🙂  I have others i cannot find as well,  would it be OK if I sent them to you?  I understand you have a lot of people sending you images and that you may not get back to me, which iis totally fine  🙂
Thank you so much,
Stephanie

Letter 9 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Identify Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Omaha, NE
Date: 08/05/2018
Time: 04:59 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I cannot find any photos of this particular caterpillar, the closest I have found is the Bedstraw Hawkmoth.  My husband said it spit green fluid at him.
How you want your letter signed:  Angela

White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Angela,
It is to be expected that insects (and other creatures for that matter) that are classified in the same genus will share many traits.  You have the genus correct, but not the species.  This is a White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata, a caterpillar that is found in several different color variations.  When conditions are favorable, there can be population explosions of caterpillars, especially in arid desert climates.  The adult White Lined Sphinx flies at dawn and dusk and is frequently mistaken for a hummingbird.  The moths are also attracted to lights.

Letter 10 – White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

ID of caterpillar
Can you tell me what type this is

Looks like the highly variable White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar.

Letter 11 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

caterpillar picture attached
I saw this caterpillar in Anzo-Borrego Desert in southern California last week. Curious if you know what it is. Pictures attached.
paul

Hi Paul,
With the desert wildflowers being so spectacular this year, there is plenty of food for plant eaters like caterpillars. We expect to get numerous queries regarding your species, the White Lined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx, Hyles lineata. The caterpillars of this species are highly variable and become quite numerous at times. They were eaten by Native Americans and still are eaten by some adventuresome modern Americans as well.

Letter 12 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Caterpillar identification help
Dear Bugman,
My daughter and I found this caterpillar at her school in Santa Barbara, CA. We haven’t been able to identify it. Could you help us?
Thank you!
Marlee & Madeleine Richter

Hi Marlee and Madeleine,
There are several different color morphs of the White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles lineata, and this is one of them. This is one of the commonest moths in Southern California.

Letter 13 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

From North Texas
Can you tell what this is? It was found east of Dallas TX. Thanks,
John

Hi John,
This is a White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar. There are several different color variations for the caterpillar, and this is a common one. Other caterpillars are almost entirely black. The adult moths are sometimes confused for hummingbirds.

Letter 14 – White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Caterpillar Identity
HI,
We live in San Antonio Texas & have 7 of these on one plant . My 4 year old would like to rear it & would like any info . Thanks
Steve

Hi Steve,
Originally we thought this was a Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth Caterpillar, but on May 6 we found an identical caterpillar in our Mt. Washington California garden that we know is a White-Lined Sphinx, Hyles lineata. This is not a final instar caterpillar and this species has at least three different color morphs.

Letter 15 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

a hornworm?
We have discovered some wonderful caterpillars that I refuse to think are going to find my tomato plants, though they remind me of tomato hornworms They are living in a patch of curly dock in our front yard. (Guess I can’t mow THAT yet… not until we retrieve the chrysalises later) Anyway… can you identify this for us? We live in the Minneapolis area of Minnesota, USA. Thank you.
Liz and Caiti

Hi Liz and Caiti,
This is a White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles linata. This is a highly variable caterpillar that comes in several color morphs.

Letter 16 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Caterpillar Identification
Could you please help me identify this caterpillar which is a about 3″ long, has a horn at the rear end. It is feeding on a Four O’clock plant0 the flower of which is supposed to bloom about 4::00 pm every day. Thanks for your help.
Kathryn Dodd
Sanger, Texas

Hi Kathryn,
This is a White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles lineata. It is a highly variable caterpillar with at least three distinct color variations.

Letter 17 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

huge caterpillar!!!
Wed, May 27, 2009 at 6:08 PM
today (may 27th) while trimming tall grass and brush for my neighbor, i came across the largest caterpillar i have ever seen in california! it seemed very out of place, on a dry sun baked hill with all the grass mostly brown and dead for the summer. i picked it up and moved it to the shade under an oak. it was very lucky i noticed the little guy before my trimmer got the best of it. it was bright green with two black stripes running the length of it, with black and light yellow spots running down the side. it had a large yellow spike connected to its backside. it was 3 to 4 inches long.
Brennan
Northern California

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Brennan,
This is a White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles lineata. a moth that ranges over most of North America but is most often associated with desert areas of the Southwest.  This species has periodic population explosions in the desert during lush years and the caterpillar can be found in great numbers.  Native Americans feasted on the caterpillars.  The Caterpillars pupate underground, and your specimen was probably searching for some soft dirt in which to burrow.  The adult moths are often attracted to lights.

Letter 18 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar: Black Morph

 

caterpiller ID
The attached caterpiller was found in the Mojave desert in April 2003. I think it was about 3″ long. Can you identify it?
Elise Ciraolo

Hi Elise,
This looks like a White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles lineata. The caterpillar is highly variable in color and yours is the black morph.

Letter 19 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar: Black Morph

 

Caterpillar – Large Black Yellow and Orange
I found this caterpillar on a plant at a local store in Meridian, Idaho. I was so fascinated by it, I bought the plant it was on so I could take the caterpillar home! I have not been able to identify it. What do you think it is? Thanks so much for taking the time to help me.
Ruthann

Hi Ruthann,
This is a White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar. This species has several different color morphs, and this black one is also pictured on BugGuide. The plant is a fuschia, one of the preferred larval foods.

Letter 20 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar — Green Form

 

Huge Catapillar
my husband took the picture of the catapillar which he said was as long as a small cucumber we live in montebello, california. What kind is it??? does it produce a huge moth or butterfly???
Sincerely,
Darcy Jimenez

Hi Darcy,
Your caterpillar is the green phase of the White-Lined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx Moth, Hyles lineata. It is a large beautiful moth that is common in southern California. I see large numbers of moths attracted to the lights at USC when I teach night classes there. The caterpillar comes in both a green phase and a dark phase which are colored quite differently. Here is a site with nice images and information.

Letter 21 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillars

 

identify caterpillars
Can you help us identify these caterpillars? My daughter would like to try to keep them until they form a butterfly or moth. I need to find instructions on how to do this as I assume they are the kind that overwinter somehow. We live in Illinois and found them in our yard feding on the weed (picture of this also attached). They look like Catalpa moths, but we don’t have any catalpa trees in our area, and they are feeding on this weed, not a tree. If you can give us instructions for overwintering that would be great also, but even if we just have an identification, I can do some web research.
Thanks
Deanne

Hi Deanne,
You should be able to find all you need to know about raising White Lined Sphinx Caterpillars, Hyles lineata, by visiting Bill Oehlke’s site.

Letter 22 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillars

 

Hello!
I love this site! I’ve already emailed the link to several friends. Here are a couple of pics I took at my home. I think I’ve narrowed these little critters down to a ‘White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar’. I understand that pillars go through color changes through their development. Are both of these the same species? Anyway, this little guy was crawling through the mulch under some bushes in late April in south Texas. Did I mention I love this site. I’ve got some more strange bug pics to contribute later. Thanks,
Lance

Hi Lance,
These caterpillars are indeed both White Lined Sphinx Caterpillars.

Letter 23 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillars

 

Hi Guys,
Hope this note finds you both well. Here’s some edible-bug-page text. I went ahead and sent in what I had before, plus one new one. We moved over the month of June, so I’ve been out of communication.
Here’s the Text: White-Lined Sphinx: Hyles lineata
You’ve gotten various pictures of this caterpillar; I’ve listed them here. You might want to take the most recent one. A more radical idea would be to show them all – good contrast to show the variability of the markings? ‘Course that might well be a lot of work. Just a thought. This caterpillar was (and might still be, for all I know) a very popular food item throughout most of its range, particularly in the Western U.S. and Mexico. To the Pima of southern Arizona it’s makum. To the Maricopa along the Gila River it’s ame. The Seri of northwestern Mexico call/ed it hehe icam, which means "plant’s live thing." This information (and the narrative for Rhynchophorus on this page) comes from DeFoliart’s impressive text, which can be found at www.food-insects.com .
I had a chance to eat this caterpillar in New Mexico in June 2005, but I was on sacred ground at the time so that would have been a no-no
David Gracer

Hi David,
Thank you for clueing us in to the edibility of this highly variable caterpillar.
.

Letter 24 – Whitelined Sphinx

 

Subject: Moth Identification
Location: Glendale CA
March 26, 2016 4:59 pm
I photographed this moth on the outside wall of my apartment building, next to the front door.
Date: March 26, 2016
Location: Glendale CA
I tried to identify it online, but no luck.
Can you tell me what moth this is and whether or not it is indigenous to California?
Thank-you for your help.
Signature: Bill in California

Whitelined Sphinx
Whitelined Sphinx

Dear Bill,
Not only is the Whitelined Sphinx indigenous to California, it can be found in all the continental United States as well as Mexico and Canada.  Caterpillars of the Whitelined Sphinx can be quite numerous in the deserts of the southwest when conditions are favorable, and when metamorphosis is complete, there are also large numbers of the adult White Lined Sphinx Moths seen feeding at dusk and dawn when they are frequently confused for hummingbirds because of they manner in which they fly.

Dear Daniel,
Thank-you so much for your extremely fast reply!
Before I contacted you, I looked up the entomology department
at UC Riverside, but they charge the general public $25.00 to
identity an insect. I am grateful that you have shared your
knowledge for free. Thank-you, again.
Sincerely,
Bill

Letter 25 – Whitelined Sphinx

 

Subject: Yellow & Black moth
Location: North Las Vegas, Nevada
July 8, 2016 5:19 am
It was quite large, and appeared yellow and black/brown, though the picture makes it look more brown and black.
Signature: JB

Whitelined Sphinx
Whitelined Sphinx

Dear JB,
Because it is at rest, the upper wings on your Whitelined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx are covering the pink striped underwings that are revealed in flight.  This is a common, wide ranging species that if found in all 48 continental United States and Canada, though it is most common in the west.  Periodically there are population explosions of both the Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars and consequently, after they mature, adult Whitelined Sphinxes.  It is not unusual for us to find several Whitelined Sphinxes attracted to the porch light of our Mount Washington offices at certain times of the year.

Letter 26 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Infestation!
Hi, I live out in the California/Arizona border desert and recently my backyard has been taken over by a caterpillar that I haven’t seen around here before. They’ve been feeding on these creeper weeds that are covering the ground but have yet to disturb my fig tree or any of my other large trees growing near by. I’m not 100% positive what the weeds are but I think some of them are California Burclover and Hare barely, but the majority the caterpillers are on are the skinny weed with purple flowers that has sticky seeds. The closest I could find to look like them were Catalpa Caterpillar but I have no catalpa trees out here. They range in color from mostly black with green or orange spots or stripes, mostly green with some yellow and black spots or stripes, and I’ve even seen a few black and blue bellied ones. Their sizes range from an inch to 3.5″-4″. Just a large assortment of these lill’ guys. If you could please help me properly identify these guys I’d really appreciate it. I’m concerned for my dog, afraid that she might nibble one and I don’t know if their poisonous or not. Thanks for your time and your help!
T.B.M.

Hi T.B.M.,
This is a Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar. We’vr gotten numerous letters in the past two months from the Southwest from people reporting a huge population explosion of Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars.

Letter 27 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Southeastern South Dakota
Date: 09/15/2018
Time: 09:34 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What kind of moth will this become?  Is the caterpillar dangerous to my flowers?
How you want your letter signed:  Susan

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Susan,
This is a Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar, and the adult Whitelined Sphinx is often confused for a hummingbird when it visits blossoms during the crepuscular time of day.  Most caterpillars feed on leaves and they do not do appreciable damage to plants unless they are quite numerous and the plant is already stressed due to other factors.

Letter 28 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Superior, Arizona
Date: 09/15/2018
Time: 07:31 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Seen crawling on a path in Boyce Thompson Arboretum
How you want your letter signed:  Lucy Lancaster

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Lucy,
This is a Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar, a species with several color morphs, including a dark variant we just posted.  Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars are prove to periodical population explosions, especially in areas of the arid Southwest.

Letter 29 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Gorgeous Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  East Central Indiana Winchester
Date: 09/18/2018
Time: 03:09 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Bugman,
I found this guy in the parking lot of my office. We are located near a small creek with some brush. I was hoping you could help me identify this bug!
How you want your letter signed:  Ann

White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Ann,
This is just one of several different color variations of the Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar.  You may see other color variations here and here.

Letter 30 – Barbary Spurge Hawkmoth Caterpillar from the Canary Islands

 

Subject:  Caterpillar Identification
Geographic location of the bug:  Canary Islands
Date: 01/31/2019
Time: 03:51 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello Bugman,
I was wondering you could identify the caterpillar in the attached picture? A person that I know found several of them on a plant in Indiana. I tried to identify it on my own but with no luck. I thought it was some sort of hawk moth larva.
Thank you,
How you want your letter signed:  Emma

Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Emma,
This is a very colorful Whitelined Sphinx, a highly variable caterpillar when it comes to markings and coloration.  Here is a BugGuide image that greatly resembles your individual.

Correction:  Thanks to a comment from frequent contributor on Sphingidae submissions, Bostjan Dvorak, we now agree that this is the caterpillar of the related Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth, Hyles euphorbiae, and according to BugGuide:  “Introduced from Europe since the 1960s to combat leafy spurge.”  Sphingidae of the Americas does not list the Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth from Indiana, but BugGuide does list it in nearby Michigan, leading us to speculate that the range of the introduced moth is increasing with the spread of Leafy Spurge.

Update: Hello Daniel Marlos,
Thank you very much for the feedback. That’s definitely interesting. I am just confused because although this specimen looks pretty much exactly like the Spurge caterpillars it lacks the double spots found on the side of Spurge caterpillars. Also, the big spots are filled in with color not just white. Could it be perhaps a variable pattern?
I have been told by the person who took the photo that this caterpillar was found with several other of these same types of caterpillars. Not that this piece of information helps but perhaps shows that it’s not just an anomaly?.
Thank you again for taking the time to identify this caterpillar.
~ Emma

Hi Again Emma,
There is often much variation between individuals of the same species.  Often knowing the plant upon which an insect was feeding is a tremendous clue in determining identity.  The greatest evidence we have that this is a Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth Caterpillar was provided in the comment sent by Bostjan where he identified the plant upon which the individual was feeding as Spurge in the genus
Euphorbia.  That food plant would negate our original supposition that this might be a very colorful Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar.

CORRECTION:  February 25, 2019
Hi Daniel,
I made a mistake in the location of the caterpillar we thought was a leafy spurge moth, which clears up this confusing identification. This caterpillar was found on Gran Canaria Island, Spain which is off the coast of NW Africa. It is actually the Barbary spurge hawkmoth (Hyles tithymali).
Emma

Thanks for the update Emma.  We aren’t going to ask how the Canary Islands were confused with Indiana.  We have images of the Barbary Spurge Hawkmoth Caterpillar in our archives.

Haha, yeah definitely an odd switch up. My dad showed me the picture that his friend had taken. He didn’t ask his friend where he took it and assumed he took it in Indiana. I asked my dad again since the identification didn’t quite make sense and that’s where I got the true location which makes so much more sense. Thank you!

At least we got the genus correct originally.

 

Letter 31 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject:  some kind of horn worm?
Geographic location of the bug:  Boulder City  Nevada 89005
Date: 05/17/2019
Time: 11:06 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This is not our standard tomato hornworm/sphinx moth but is a different horn worm?
Please help me ID this caterpillar!
How you want your letter signed:  Dr. Merkler

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Dr. Merkler,
This is a highly variably colored Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar, a species that is known for extreme population explosions in desert areas following winters of significantly heavy rainfall.  In April, Daniel  saw thousands of dark colored Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars feeding on wildflowers in Joshua Tree National Park.

Letter 32 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: Hornworm caterpillar
Location: Yuba City, Ca
May 6, 2013 8:33 pm
It is about 3 in long. We found it at my school site walking across the sidewalk. Any help would be appreciated!
Signature: Carrie

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Carrie,
This is the caterpillar of the Whitelined Sphinx, a common Southern California moth that is found in all 48 lower states.  The caterpillar is highly variable in color and markings.  The Whitelined Sphinx Moths are currently flying in Southern California.  Feed the caterpillar leaves from fuschia or check BugGuide or Sphingidae of the Americas for additional food plants.

Letter 33 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: Hornworm, NOT Tomato
Location: South of Springfield, IL
April 8, 2014 4:56 pm
I found this guy crawling around in the gravel of the driveway. He eschewed leaves from my tomato plants.
He looked LIKE a tomato hornworm at first glance, but instead of one row of eye spots, he has a double row, the top ones being huge and red. It was large, about the size of a tomato hornworm, though marked differently.
I’ve cleaned it up in Photoshop, I was going to post it online (I’m an avid Wikipedian), but wanted to be able to identify it, first.
Signature: Kaz

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Kaz,
Considering the record long and harsh winter we understand you experienced in your part of the world, we find it unusual that this sighting of a mature Hornworm occurred this week.  Since you admitted you “cleaned it up in Photoshop” we are not certain exactly much color and contrast manipulation has occurred, but this appears to be the caterpillar of a Whitelined Sphinx,
Hyles lineata, a highly variable species.  Except for the color intensity, it looks very similar to this example on BugGuide.  We are currently featuring a Wanted Poster from a graduate entomology student who is studying the population explosions of this species that often occur in the desert regions of the Southwest.  Some years the Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars are incredibly numerous.  Native Americans collected them for food and they are popular among modern entomophages.  The adult Whitelined Sphinx, also known as the Striped Morning Sphinx, is our featured Bug of the Month for April 2014 because we have gotten so many reports and identification requests from Southern California this spring.

Oh, no, this was during the summer, I just didn’t discover your
website until now.  Weird, the pics on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyles_lineata look
completely different.  I take it that the wide range of this moth explains why its
caterpillar varies so extremely…I’m in Illinois, a couple of
thousand miles away from those places, and Wikipedia says its range
goes from central America through Canada.

We don’t believe the color variations have to do with location.  Members of the same brood can look quite different, some being black and others green.  We have several examples in our own archive that look similar to your individual, except for the color intensity.  See here and here.

Letter 34 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: Caterpillar ID
Location: W. WA
July 3, 2014 11:20 am
Looks like a hawkmoth to us but has a black tail (not red).
What’s your thought?
Signature: Fetters family

Probably Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Probably Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Fetters family.
You are correct that this is the caterpillar of a Hawkmoth or Sphinx in the family Sphingidae, and we can immediately narrow it down to a member of the genus
Hyles.  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas website, there are three members of the genus that are found in Washington, Hyles euphorbiae, Hyles gallii and Hyles lineata, and all three have highly variable larvae.  We believe this is the caterpillar of a Whitelined Sphinx, based on this image posted to BugGuide.

Letter 35 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: hornworm?
Location: Harvard, Nebraska, USA
August 6, 2014 6:14 am
My parents found this in their garden in Harvard, Nebraska, USA. We’ve never seen one like this. We think it is some kind of hornworm but can’t find a picture online. Can you give it’s common name and scientific name?
thank you,
Signature: Patty

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Patty,
When requesting an insect identification, it is always helpful to identify the food plant.  This is the caterpillar of a Whitelined Sphinx,
Hyles lineata, a species with a vast range including all of continental North America.  It has a highly variable caterpillar.

Letter 36 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: What kind of caterpillar is this?
Location: Ames, IA
October 26, 2014 1:53 pm
Hello,
I have found this caterpillar in the grass while taking my dog on a walk. I would like to know what species of caterpillars it is and what it will become. I was hoping this website would help me.
Thanks!
Signature: Emily

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Emily,
Your caterpillar is a Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata.

Letter 37 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: Catapiller
Location: Lancaster , California
April 8, 2015 9:53 pm
Hi, my friend found a catapiller , took a picture of it and sent it to me. I would like to know what the name of it is and what the name of the butterfly it turns into is name. Thank you .
Signature: Girl with questions, Allie

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Allie,
This is a Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata, and we believe that despite the drought, this is going to be a year with significant numbers of Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars in desert areas because rains were well distributed, contributing to plant growth in the desert.  Adult Whitelined Sphinxes are streamlined moths that are often mistaken for hummingbirds.

Letter 38 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: Northern California Caterpillar
Location: Northern California
May 20, 2017 10:57 pm
Hi, saw this little guy outside tonight and just wondering what he might turn into
Signature: Rachel

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Rachel,
This is but one color variation of the highly variable Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata, and this BugGuide image is a very good color match to your individual.  The high rainfall we had this past season produced plants upon which the caterpillars feed, and we expect to be getting reports of caterpillar population explosions, especially from desert areas.  Our own porch light has attracted numerous adult Whitelined Sphinx Moths this spring. 

Letter 39 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar, dark form

 

Subject: Caterpillar
Location: Northern Virginia
September 22, 2012 8:47 pm
Hello,
Tonight we noticed a bunch of these on a dirt pile in our yard. We counted 11 of them. Can you please tell us what they are? None of us has ever seen a caterpillar with a spiky bum before 🙂
Signature: Thank you, Jen

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Jen,
This is a very dark form of the highly variable Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata.  It is the only member of the genus that the Sphingidae of the Americas website reports from Virginia.

Letter 40 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar: Green variant

 

Subject:  Caterpillar eating Mexican Primrose
Geographic location of the bug:  West LosAngeles
Date: 05/27/2019
Time: 07:53 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Bugman,
Is this the caterpillar that’s usually found on tomato plants?
How you want your letter signed:  Jeff Bremer

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Jeff,
This is a very green variation of the highly variable Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar.  Daniel saw thousands of black and yellow Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars munching on the wildflowers in Joshua Tree National Park this spring.  When there is significant rainfall in desert areas, there are tremendous population explosions of this species.  See BugGuide for an example of a green variant.  The Whitelined Sphinx moth is a lovely pollinator that is often mistaken for a hummingbird.  Several related species, including the Tobacco Hornworm and Tomato Hornworm feed on tomatoes and other related garden plants.

Whitlelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Letter 41 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar in Trona

 

Subject: Caterpillar
Location: Trona, CA.
April 4, 2015 5:41 pm
Dear Bugman,
Long time!
Here we have a photo of a specimen we saw out at the Trona Pinnacles, roughly 20 miles east of Ridgecrest, CA. Approximately 2″ long, these critters were everywhere! Is the horn dangerous? What kind of butterfly do they (possibly) evolve into?
Thanks again!
Signature: Tomas Arceo

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Tomas,
This is the caterpillar of a Whitelined Sphinx,
Hyles lineata, a species that periodically has tremendous population explosions in desert areas that often coincide with years when desert blooms also peak.

Letter 42 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar saved from Home Depot Staff!!!

 

Subject: What’s this Caterpillar?
Location: Frederick, Maryland
July 8, 2014 12:02 am
Hello!
My friend and I were picking up some plants for her mother at Home Depot, and we saw this big guy hanging out on one of the plants. I bought that one only so he wouldn’t be harmed by staff or other customers but I was wondering what kind of caterpillar he was, and if he turns into a butterfly or moth.
Thank you~!
Signature: – Karlee

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Karlee,
You are our kind of Bug Humanitarian.  This is a Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata, and it is one of the greatest ranging moth species in North America.  Whitelined Sphinxes have been reported from all 48 continental United States as well as Canada and Mexico, and they are especially common in desert areas of the Southwest.  The caterpillars are highly variable, with black and yellow varieties commonly found along with green caterpillars like the one in your image.  The adult Whitelined Sphinx is a lovely moth that is often attracted to lights.  They also fly at dawn and dusk, a time known as crepuscular, so it is possible to view them pollinating flowers while there is still some daylight available.  

Letter 43 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars

 

caterpillars
Can you identify what these caterpillars are? They are all over the desert in Las Cruces NM after some rain!!
Shawn

Hi Shawn,
Your caterpillars belong to the Whitelined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx, Hyles lineata. This moth can be found in all the continental United States and especially in the deserts it is prone to seasonal population explosions with 1000s of caterpillars appearing at once. The caterpillars have several different color morphs. Native Americans feasted on the caterpillars when they were plentiful.

Letter 44 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars Marching in Southwest

 

White-lined Sphinx caterpillars marching, Southern New Mexico
Hi bug people
Know you have many images of White-lined Sphinx caterpillars but thought you might like to see these. We’ve had an unusually wet summer, which I guess accounts for the huge numbers – hundreds of them on the move this morning. The first two shots are of the “march”, the last two show both yellow and green forms.
Jaymie Williamson
Las Cruces, New Mexico

Hi Jaymie,
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars are especially plentiful in arid areas of the Southwest this year. There was even a broadcast news story on the Los Angeles evening news.

Letter 45 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars: Two color morphs

 

Fuschia Chompers
Hello Bug Pro
Can you tell me what these fellas are? The nearly destroyed the fuschia and sure traumatized my wife when she stuck her finger on one. We live in Lander, Wyoming
Thanks Scott

Hi Scott,
Your photo illustrates two possible color morphs of the Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles lineata. There are several additional color possibilities. The adult moths are a lovely hummingbird type moth that often flies at dawn and dusk. It is sometimes called the Striped Morning Sphinx. Fuschia is one of the preferred host plants, but the caterpillars will also feed on other cultivated plants.

Letter 46 – Whitelined Sphinx Habitat

 

Subject: Habitat HELP!!
Location: Illinois
July 22, 2014 4:27 pm
Hello WTB ive been trying to gather some research for a bug i picked up today. Ive been searching for a caterpillar for quite some time n it actually found me! I believe i properly identified it as Hyles Gallii “Bedstraw Hawkmoth”. Its fairly big so i decided im going to keep it indoor, in an old fish tank. I was just going to try and mimick a woodsy outdoor habitat? I know ventilation is key so i will leave the top open or fix something over or wood a mostly enclosed area not good? I took some of its host plant i found it on so hes currently eating that. Any other tips? moisture, light, etc.
Signature: Corey

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Corey,
In our opinion, you have identified the correct genus, but not the correct species.  This is a Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata.  Your old fish tank is a good habitat.  We would cover the top with screen, netting or cheesecloth to provide air circulation.  Keep it is a shaded location so the sun doesn’t bake your caterpillar through the glass.  Many caterpillars in this family dig beneath the earth to pupate, so loose, moist but not wet potting soil should be placed in the bottom of the habitat.  See BugGuide for additional information.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: horned caterpillar
Location: Mannington, New Jersey
September 4, 2012 1:34 pm
A friend found two of these caterpillars crossing her driveway. The lawn it crossed is very large and bordered by woods. It reminds me of a Tomato Hornworm but the spots are very different and it does not have the diagonal stripes. It is 2.5 inches in length.
Signature: MEP

White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear MEP,
Late summer and early autumn caterpillar sightings are very common because the caterpillars have reached their full size and often leave the plants upon which they were feeding to seek appropriate places for pupation.  You caterpillar is that of the highly variable White Lined Sphinx, and it is in the same family as the Tomato Hornworm.  White Lined Sphinx caterpillars range in color from black through orange and yellow to green.  Your individual is greener than we usually see.

Letter 2 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: sphinx moth caterpillar?
Location: central oregon high desert
August 16, 2012 12:12 pm
Hi there,
Love your site and have used to figure out what i have seen several times, but this is the first time I have sent in a photo. I found this caterpillar August 16th on Grizzly Mt. in Central Oregon (high desert habitat). Don’t know the plant it is on but think it is probably some type of sphinx moth. Can you help?
Signature: Elayne Barclay

White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Elayne,
This is one color variation of the highly variable caterpillar of the White Lined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx,
Hyles lineata.  You can find a matching photo in the image of three color morphs on The Sphingidae of the Americas website as well as this photograph from BugGuideThe White Lined Sphinx is one of the most common Sphinx Moths in North America and it is found in all 48 continental states as well as Canada and Mexico.  Both the caterpillars and adults appear in prodigious numbers when conditions are favorable.  Since we will be away from the office this weekend, we are postdating your submission to go live on Sunday during our absence.

Wow Daniel, I never expected such a quick response! As soon as I sent the message the next page of sphinx larvae I looked at had the white-lined sphinx and I thought that was the guy. I’ve seen an adult once and was floored, so cool!
Thanks so much!
Elayne

Letter 3 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: Arizona Caterpillars
Location: Congress AZ
September 9, 2012 11:05 pm
Went out this morning to find these little guys all over the ground. I have been in AZ for over 4 yrs now, (5th summer) and I have never seen these before. We have had a lot more rain this summer so we have a lot more vegatation on the ground. They are so thick in this ground cover that you can barely walk without stepping on one. I also noticed that they seem to be trying to burrow into the ground.
Signature: M Lamon

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear M Lamon,
This is the caterpillar of the Whitelined Sphinx,
Hyles lineata, a highly variable caterpillar that is found in all 48 continental states.  Larvae feed on a variety of plants, ensuring the wide range enjoyed by the species.  Numbers can be especially numerous in desert regions where yearly populations fluctuate with the amount of vegetation, and years with more rain produce more vegetation.  In some locations, the caterpillars can be so numerous as to cover the ground, as your letter indicates.  The caterpillars pupate underground which is why you observed so many of them digging beneath the surface.

Letter 4 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

What is this?
Hi there,
I’m attaching a photo of what I would think is a hornworm, but I haven’t found any photos anywhere of this caterpillar. They showed up 3 days ago, overnight, and they are everywhere! In the garden, the driveway, the lawn, backyard… they are even climbing the stucco walls of my home. Help! I’ve been scooping them into 5 gallon buckets… what else can I do? I live in Sedona, Az. Thanks,
Norma

Hi Norma,
There are at least three distinct color variations of the White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles lineata, and this is one of them.

Letter 5 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Sphinx moth caterpillar in October?
Location:  Susquehanna Valley, PA
October 3, 2010 7:54 pm
Hi Bugman!
I work at a large greenhouse, so I see quite a few critters indoors and out. It’s always fun to try identifying bugs I don’t recognize and your website has come in handy many times. Whenever a coworker asks me about a bug, I always point them to your site first.
Although I’m familiar with tobacco and tomato hornworms, the one that I found today was neither. Perusing your site, I believe it’s a Whitelined Sphinx Moth caterpillar. I was surprised to find this over 3” long caterpillar crawling across the outside thruway, away from the fields and plants, especially since I rarely see any this late in the year. Also, aren’t these typically found in desert locales? I had time to snap one shot with my phone before making sure the caterpillar got out of harm’s way before it was run over.
I hope my guess is correct. Thanks for all the great info here!
Signature:  CJ

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear CJ,
Your identification of the Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata, is correct.  The deserts of the Southwest are known for seasonal population explosions of these caterpillars when weather conditions and food requirements are ideal, but this is also the widest ranging Sphinx Moth in North America.  Because the caterpillars can be so plentiful, they were an important food for the indigenous people of the southwest.  The Whitelined Sphinx can be found in all 48 lower states as well as Mexico and Canada.  The Data page on BugGuide shows the distribution of reports to that site, and Bill Oehlke’s website, Sphingidae of the Americas, has wonderful information on the species.  The caterpillars will feed on a wide variety of plants including the greenhouse staple Fuschia.

Letter 6 – White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Strange Caterpillar
Location: Olathe, Kansas
October 3, 2011 7:22 pm
We saw this caterpillar today in the parking lot of a local nature center. No one in our group had ever seen one like it before. It was about three to four inches long and about half an inch thick.
We tried to shift it onto a piece of paper to move it into the grass; it reacted by violently wriggling side to side, almost like a snake. (We stopped trying and left it alone.)
Any idea what it is?
Signature: Joyce and Josh

White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Joyce and Josh,
This is the highly variable caterpillar of the White Lined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx,
Hyles lineata.  In addition to this black form, some individuals are green and others are yellow.  The caterpillars of the White-Lined Sphinx are edible.

Thanks very much for the information!  We appreciate it but we will not be eating any White-Lined Sphinx caterpillars anytime soon.

Letter 7 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Valley Carpenter Bee and White Lined Sphinx Hornworm

Thanks for your article identifying the “fuzzy blonde bees” that have been patrolling our hillside for the last week. I’m so glad my Yahoo search came up with your page. It was very hard to find any info on anything but black carpenter bees, even in our 3 or 4 insect field guides only one mentioned that carpenter bees could be coloured differently.
We have a current troop of about 5 “blonde boys” and as of yet, no sign of their black female counterparts.
I’ve attached a jpg of a larvae we have found here lately. Have never seen it before in 7 years… Now we’ve seen two, both striped with anal horns. One, in the creek, was much darker than this one, but on both the horn and the mouthparts are gold. We have very few domestic plants around our cabin in the National Forest, but tons of nightshade. Could these be hornworms of some type? They are quite lovely to behold, but a very odd find here.
Thanks,
V Novo

Dear V Novo,
The male Valley Carpenter Bees, Xylocopa varipuncta, are much shorter lived than the females. I have been seeing female bees this spring, visiting my Honey Suckle as well as the Wisteria.
Your caterpillar is a White Lined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx, Hyles lineata, a beautiful moth with a three inch wingspan. I have been seeing adult moths on the USC campus, resting in the eaves of the outdoor hallways near the art building. They have an almost infinite list of food plants, but are very fond of fuschia.

Letter 8 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: Caterpillar ID
Location: Minnesota
March 4, 2016 5:42 pm
Hi
I found this caterpillar last year ( 2015) in the summer in Minnesota. Do you know what variety of hornworm it is ?
Signature: Stephanie T.

White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar
White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Stephanie,
This is a common color variation of the highly variable and wide ranging White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata.

White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar
White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Wow!  thank  you!  for the response  🙂  I truly appreciate it.  I  do try to find the answer for myself, so i don’t bug people,  no pun intended!  🙂  I have others i cannot find as well,  would it be OK if I sent them to you?  I understand you have a lot of people sending you images and that you may not get back to me, which iis totally fine  🙂
Thank you so much,
Stephanie

Letter 9 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Identify Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Omaha, NE
Date: 08/05/2018
Time: 04:59 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I cannot find any photos of this particular caterpillar, the closest I have found is the Bedstraw Hawkmoth.  My husband said it spit green fluid at him.
How you want your letter signed:  Angela

White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Angela,
It is to be expected that insects (and other creatures for that matter) that are classified in the same genus will share many traits.  You have the genus correct, but not the species.  This is a White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata, a caterpillar that is found in several different color variations.  When conditions are favorable, there can be population explosions of caterpillars, especially in arid desert climates.  The adult White Lined Sphinx flies at dawn and dusk and is frequently mistaken for a hummingbird.  The moths are also attracted to lights.

Letter 10 – White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

ID of caterpillar
Can you tell me what type this is

Looks like the highly variable White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar.

Letter 11 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

caterpillar picture attached
I saw this caterpillar in Anzo-Borrego Desert in southern California last week. Curious if you know what it is. Pictures attached.
paul

Hi Paul,
With the desert wildflowers being so spectacular this year, there is plenty of food for plant eaters like caterpillars. We expect to get numerous queries regarding your species, the White Lined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx, Hyles lineata. The caterpillars of this species are highly variable and become quite numerous at times. They were eaten by Native Americans and still are eaten by some adventuresome modern Americans as well.

Letter 12 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Caterpillar identification help
Dear Bugman,
My daughter and I found this caterpillar at her school in Santa Barbara, CA. We haven’t been able to identify it. Could you help us?
Thank you!
Marlee & Madeleine Richter

Hi Marlee and Madeleine,
There are several different color morphs of the White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles lineata, and this is one of them. This is one of the commonest moths in Southern California.

Letter 13 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

From North Texas
Can you tell what this is? It was found east of Dallas TX. Thanks,
John

Hi John,
This is a White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar. There are several different color variations for the caterpillar, and this is a common one. Other caterpillars are almost entirely black. The adult moths are sometimes confused for hummingbirds.

Letter 14 – White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Caterpillar Identity
HI,
We live in San Antonio Texas & have 7 of these on one plant . My 4 year old would like to rear it & would like any info . Thanks
Steve

Hi Steve,
Originally we thought this was a Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth Caterpillar, but on May 6 we found an identical caterpillar in our Mt. Washington California garden that we know is a White-Lined Sphinx, Hyles lineata. This is not a final instar caterpillar and this species has at least three different color morphs.

Letter 15 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

a hornworm?
We have discovered some wonderful caterpillars that I refuse to think are going to find my tomato plants, though they remind me of tomato hornworms They are living in a patch of curly dock in our front yard. (Guess I can’t mow THAT yet… not until we retrieve the chrysalises later) Anyway… can you identify this for us? We live in the Minneapolis area of Minnesota, USA. Thank you.
Liz and Caiti

Hi Liz and Caiti,
This is a White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles linata. This is a highly variable caterpillar that comes in several color morphs.

Letter 16 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Caterpillar Identification
Could you please help me identify this caterpillar which is a about 3″ long, has a horn at the rear end. It is feeding on a Four O’clock plant0 the flower of which is supposed to bloom about 4::00 pm every day. Thanks for your help.
Kathryn Dodd
Sanger, Texas

Hi Kathryn,
This is a White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles lineata. It is a highly variable caterpillar with at least three distinct color variations.

Letter 17 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

huge caterpillar!!!
Wed, May 27, 2009 at 6:08 PM
today (may 27th) while trimming tall grass and brush for my neighbor, i came across the largest caterpillar i have ever seen in california! it seemed very out of place, on a dry sun baked hill with all the grass mostly brown and dead for the summer. i picked it up and moved it to the shade under an oak. it was very lucky i noticed the little guy before my trimmer got the best of it. it was bright green with two black stripes running the length of it, with black and light yellow spots running down the side. it had a large yellow spike connected to its backside. it was 3 to 4 inches long.
Brennan
Northern California

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Brennan,
This is a White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles lineata. a moth that ranges over most of North America but is most often associated with desert areas of the Southwest.  This species has periodic population explosions in the desert during lush years and the caterpillar can be found in great numbers.  Native Americans feasted on the caterpillars.  The Caterpillars pupate underground, and your specimen was probably searching for some soft dirt in which to burrow.  The adult moths are often attracted to lights.

Letter 18 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar: Black Morph

 

caterpiller ID
The attached caterpiller was found in the Mojave desert in April 2003. I think it was about 3″ long. Can you identify it?
Elise Ciraolo

Hi Elise,
This looks like a White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles lineata. The caterpillar is highly variable in color and yours is the black morph.

Letter 19 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar: Black Morph

 

Caterpillar – Large Black Yellow and Orange
I found this caterpillar on a plant at a local store in Meridian, Idaho. I was so fascinated by it, I bought the plant it was on so I could take the caterpillar home! I have not been able to identify it. What do you think it is? Thanks so much for taking the time to help me.
Ruthann

Hi Ruthann,
This is a White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar. This species has several different color morphs, and this black one is also pictured on BugGuide. The plant is a fuschia, one of the preferred larval foods.

Letter 20 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar — Green Form

 

Huge Catapillar
my husband took the picture of the catapillar which he said was as long as a small cucumber we live in montebello, california. What kind is it??? does it produce a huge moth or butterfly???
Sincerely,
Darcy Jimenez

Hi Darcy,
Your caterpillar is the green phase of the White-Lined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx Moth, Hyles lineata. It is a large beautiful moth that is common in southern California. I see large numbers of moths attracted to the lights at USC when I teach night classes there. The caterpillar comes in both a green phase and a dark phase which are colored quite differently. Here is a site with nice images and information.

Letter 21 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillars

 

identify caterpillars
Can you help us identify these caterpillars? My daughter would like to try to keep them until they form a butterfly or moth. I need to find instructions on how to do this as I assume they are the kind that overwinter somehow. We live in Illinois and found them in our yard feding on the weed (picture of this also attached). They look like Catalpa moths, but we don’t have any catalpa trees in our area, and they are feeding on this weed, not a tree. If you can give us instructions for overwintering that would be great also, but even if we just have an identification, I can do some web research.
Thanks
Deanne

Hi Deanne,
You should be able to find all you need to know about raising White Lined Sphinx Caterpillars, Hyles lineata, by visiting Bill Oehlke’s site.

Letter 22 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillars

 

Hello!
I love this site! I’ve already emailed the link to several friends. Here are a couple of pics I took at my home. I think I’ve narrowed these little critters down to a ‘White Lined Sphinx Caterpillar’. I understand that pillars go through color changes through their development. Are both of these the same species? Anyway, this little guy was crawling through the mulch under some bushes in late April in south Texas. Did I mention I love this site. I’ve got some more strange bug pics to contribute later. Thanks,
Lance

Hi Lance,
These caterpillars are indeed both White Lined Sphinx Caterpillars.

Letter 23 – White Lined Sphinx Caterpillars

 

Hi Guys,
Hope this note finds you both well. Here’s some edible-bug-page text. I went ahead and sent in what I had before, plus one new one. We moved over the month of June, so I’ve been out of communication.
Here’s the Text: White-Lined Sphinx: Hyles lineata
You’ve gotten various pictures of this caterpillar; I’ve listed them here. You might want to take the most recent one. A more radical idea would be to show them all – good contrast to show the variability of the markings? ‘Course that might well be a lot of work. Just a thought. This caterpillar was (and might still be, for all I know) a very popular food item throughout most of its range, particularly in the Western U.S. and Mexico. To the Pima of southern Arizona it’s makum. To the Maricopa along the Gila River it’s ame. The Seri of northwestern Mexico call/ed it hehe icam, which means "plant’s live thing." This information (and the narrative for Rhynchophorus on this page) comes from DeFoliart’s impressive text, which can be found at www.food-insects.com .
I had a chance to eat this caterpillar in New Mexico in June 2005, but I was on sacred ground at the time so that would have been a no-no
David Gracer

Hi David,
Thank you for clueing us in to the edibility of this highly variable caterpillar.
.

Letter 24 – Whitelined Sphinx

 

Subject: Moth Identification
Location: Glendale CA
March 26, 2016 4:59 pm
I photographed this moth on the outside wall of my apartment building, next to the front door.
Date: March 26, 2016
Location: Glendale CA
I tried to identify it online, but no luck.
Can you tell me what moth this is and whether or not it is indigenous to California?
Thank-you for your help.
Signature: Bill in California

Whitelined Sphinx
Whitelined Sphinx

Dear Bill,
Not only is the Whitelined Sphinx indigenous to California, it can be found in all the continental United States as well as Mexico and Canada.  Caterpillars of the Whitelined Sphinx can be quite numerous in the deserts of the southwest when conditions are favorable, and when metamorphosis is complete, there are also large numbers of the adult White Lined Sphinx Moths seen feeding at dusk and dawn when they are frequently confused for hummingbirds because of they manner in which they fly.

Dear Daniel,
Thank-you so much for your extremely fast reply!
Before I contacted you, I looked up the entomology department
at UC Riverside, but they charge the general public $25.00 to
identity an insect. I am grateful that you have shared your
knowledge for free. Thank-you, again.
Sincerely,
Bill

Letter 25 – Whitelined Sphinx

 

Subject: Yellow & Black moth
Location: North Las Vegas, Nevada
July 8, 2016 5:19 am
It was quite large, and appeared yellow and black/brown, though the picture makes it look more brown and black.
Signature: JB

Whitelined Sphinx
Whitelined Sphinx

Dear JB,
Because it is at rest, the upper wings on your Whitelined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx are covering the pink striped underwings that are revealed in flight.  This is a common, wide ranging species that if found in all 48 continental United States and Canada, though it is most common in the west.  Periodically there are population explosions of both the Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars and consequently, after they mature, adult Whitelined Sphinxes.  It is not unusual for us to find several Whitelined Sphinxes attracted to the porch light of our Mount Washington offices at certain times of the year.

Letter 26 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Infestation!
Hi, I live out in the California/Arizona border desert and recently my backyard has been taken over by a caterpillar that I haven’t seen around here before. They’ve been feeding on these creeper weeds that are covering the ground but have yet to disturb my fig tree or any of my other large trees growing near by. I’m not 100% positive what the weeds are but I think some of them are California Burclover and Hare barely, but the majority the caterpillers are on are the skinny weed with purple flowers that has sticky seeds. The closest I could find to look like them were Catalpa Caterpillar but I have no catalpa trees out here. They range in color from mostly black with green or orange spots or stripes, mostly green with some yellow and black spots or stripes, and I’ve even seen a few black and blue bellied ones. Their sizes range from an inch to 3.5″-4″. Just a large assortment of these lill’ guys. If you could please help me properly identify these guys I’d really appreciate it. I’m concerned for my dog, afraid that she might nibble one and I don’t know if their poisonous or not. Thanks for your time and your help!
T.B.M.

Hi T.B.M.,
This is a Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar. We’vr gotten numerous letters in the past two months from the Southwest from people reporting a huge population explosion of Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars.

Letter 27 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Southeastern South Dakota
Date: 09/15/2018
Time: 09:34 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What kind of moth will this become?  Is the caterpillar dangerous to my flowers?
How you want your letter signed:  Susan

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Susan,
This is a Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar, and the adult Whitelined Sphinx is often confused for a hummingbird when it visits blossoms during the crepuscular time of day.  Most caterpillars feed on leaves and they do not do appreciable damage to plants unless they are quite numerous and the plant is already stressed due to other factors.

Letter 28 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Superior, Arizona
Date: 09/15/2018
Time: 07:31 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Seen crawling on a path in Boyce Thompson Arboretum
How you want your letter signed:  Lucy Lancaster

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Lucy,
This is a Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar, a species with several color morphs, including a dark variant we just posted.  Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars are prove to periodical population explosions, especially in areas of the arid Southwest.

Letter 29 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Gorgeous Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  East Central Indiana Winchester
Date: 09/18/2018
Time: 03:09 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Bugman,
I found this guy in the parking lot of my office. We are located near a small creek with some brush. I was hoping you could help me identify this bug!
How you want your letter signed:  Ann

White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Ann,
This is just one of several different color variations of the Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar.  You may see other color variations here and here.

Letter 30 – Barbary Spurge Hawkmoth Caterpillar from the Canary Islands

 

Subject:  Caterpillar Identification
Geographic location of the bug:  Canary Islands
Date: 01/31/2019
Time: 03:51 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello Bugman,
I was wondering you could identify the caterpillar in the attached picture? A person that I know found several of them on a plant in Indiana. I tried to identify it on my own but with no luck. I thought it was some sort of hawk moth larva.
Thank you,
How you want your letter signed:  Emma

Hawkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Emma,
This is a very colorful Whitelined Sphinx, a highly variable caterpillar when it comes to markings and coloration.  Here is a BugGuide image that greatly resembles your individual.

Correction:  Thanks to a comment from frequent contributor on Sphingidae submissions, Bostjan Dvorak, we now agree that this is the caterpillar of the related Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth, Hyles euphorbiae, and according to BugGuide:  “Introduced from Europe since the 1960s to combat leafy spurge.”  Sphingidae of the Americas does not list the Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth from Indiana, but BugGuide does list it in nearby Michigan, leading us to speculate that the range of the introduced moth is increasing with the spread of Leafy Spurge.

Update: Hello Daniel Marlos,
Thank you very much for the feedback. That’s definitely interesting. I am just confused because although this specimen looks pretty much exactly like the Spurge caterpillars it lacks the double spots found on the side of Spurge caterpillars. Also, the big spots are filled in with color not just white. Could it be perhaps a variable pattern?
I have been told by the person who took the photo that this caterpillar was found with several other of these same types of caterpillars. Not that this piece of information helps but perhaps shows that it’s not just an anomaly?.
Thank you again for taking the time to identify this caterpillar.
~ Emma

Hi Again Emma,
There is often much variation between individuals of the same species.  Often knowing the plant upon which an insect was feeding is a tremendous clue in determining identity.  The greatest evidence we have that this is a Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth Caterpillar was provided in the comment sent by Bostjan where he identified the plant upon which the individual was feeding as Spurge in the genus
Euphorbia.  That food plant would negate our original supposition that this might be a very colorful Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar.

CORRECTION:  February 25, 2019
Hi Daniel,
I made a mistake in the location of the caterpillar we thought was a leafy spurge moth, which clears up this confusing identification. This caterpillar was found on Gran Canaria Island, Spain which is off the coast of NW Africa. It is actually the Barbary spurge hawkmoth (Hyles tithymali).
Emma

Thanks for the update Emma.  We aren’t going to ask how the Canary Islands were confused with Indiana.  We have images of the Barbary Spurge Hawkmoth Caterpillar in our archives.

Haha, yeah definitely an odd switch up. My dad showed me the picture that his friend had taken. He didn’t ask his friend where he took it and assumed he took it in Indiana. I asked my dad again since the identification didn’t quite make sense and that’s where I got the true location which makes so much more sense. Thank you!

At least we got the genus correct originally.

 

Letter 31 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject:  some kind of horn worm?
Geographic location of the bug:  Boulder City  Nevada 89005
Date: 05/17/2019
Time: 11:06 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This is not our standard tomato hornworm/sphinx moth but is a different horn worm?
Please help me ID this caterpillar!
How you want your letter signed:  Dr. Merkler

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Dr. Merkler,
This is a highly variably colored Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar, a species that is known for extreme population explosions in desert areas following winters of significantly heavy rainfall.  In April, Daniel  saw thousands of dark colored Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars feeding on wildflowers in Joshua Tree National Park.

Letter 32 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: Hornworm caterpillar
Location: Yuba City, Ca
May 6, 2013 8:33 pm
It is about 3 in long. We found it at my school site walking across the sidewalk. Any help would be appreciated!
Signature: Carrie

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Carrie,
This is the caterpillar of the Whitelined Sphinx, a common Southern California moth that is found in all 48 lower states.  The caterpillar is highly variable in color and markings.  The Whitelined Sphinx Moths are currently flying in Southern California.  Feed the caterpillar leaves from fuschia or check BugGuide or Sphingidae of the Americas for additional food plants.

Letter 33 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: Hornworm, NOT Tomato
Location: South of Springfield, IL
April 8, 2014 4:56 pm
I found this guy crawling around in the gravel of the driveway. He eschewed leaves from my tomato plants.
He looked LIKE a tomato hornworm at first glance, but instead of one row of eye spots, he has a double row, the top ones being huge and red. It was large, about the size of a tomato hornworm, though marked differently.
I’ve cleaned it up in Photoshop, I was going to post it online (I’m an avid Wikipedian), but wanted to be able to identify it, first.
Signature: Kaz

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Kaz,
Considering the record long and harsh winter we understand you experienced in your part of the world, we find it unusual that this sighting of a mature Hornworm occurred this week.  Since you admitted you “cleaned it up in Photoshop” we are not certain exactly much color and contrast manipulation has occurred, but this appears to be the caterpillar of a Whitelined Sphinx,
Hyles lineata, a highly variable species.  Except for the color intensity, it looks very similar to this example on BugGuide.  We are currently featuring a Wanted Poster from a graduate entomology student who is studying the population explosions of this species that often occur in the desert regions of the Southwest.  Some years the Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars are incredibly numerous.  Native Americans collected them for food and they are popular among modern entomophages.  The adult Whitelined Sphinx, also known as the Striped Morning Sphinx, is our featured Bug of the Month for April 2014 because we have gotten so many reports and identification requests from Southern California this spring.

Oh, no, this was during the summer, I just didn’t discover your
website until now.  Weird, the pics on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyles_lineata look
completely different.  I take it that the wide range of this moth explains why its
caterpillar varies so extremely…I’m in Illinois, a couple of
thousand miles away from those places, and Wikipedia says its range
goes from central America through Canada.

We don’t believe the color variations have to do with location.  Members of the same brood can look quite different, some being black and others green.  We have several examples in our own archive that look similar to your individual, except for the color intensity.  See here and here.

Letter 34 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: Caterpillar ID
Location: W. WA
July 3, 2014 11:20 am
Looks like a hawkmoth to us but has a black tail (not red).
What’s your thought?
Signature: Fetters family

Probably Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Probably Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Fetters family.
You are correct that this is the caterpillar of a Hawkmoth or Sphinx in the family Sphingidae, and we can immediately narrow it down to a member of the genus
Hyles.  According to the Sphingidae of the Americas website, there are three members of the genus that are found in Washington, Hyles euphorbiae, Hyles gallii and Hyles lineata, and all three have highly variable larvae.  We believe this is the caterpillar of a Whitelined Sphinx, based on this image posted to BugGuide.

Letter 35 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: hornworm?
Location: Harvard, Nebraska, USA
August 6, 2014 6:14 am
My parents found this in their garden in Harvard, Nebraska, USA. We’ve never seen one like this. We think it is some kind of hornworm but can’t find a picture online. Can you give it’s common name and scientific name?
thank you,
Signature: Patty

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Patty,
When requesting an insect identification, it is always helpful to identify the food plant.  This is the caterpillar of a Whitelined Sphinx,
Hyles lineata, a species with a vast range including all of continental North America.  It has a highly variable caterpillar.

Letter 36 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: What kind of caterpillar is this?
Location: Ames, IA
October 26, 2014 1:53 pm
Hello,
I have found this caterpillar in the grass while taking my dog on a walk. I would like to know what species of caterpillars it is and what it will become. I was hoping this website would help me.
Thanks!
Signature: Emily

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Emily,
Your caterpillar is a Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata.

Letter 37 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: Catapiller
Location: Lancaster , California
April 8, 2015 9:53 pm
Hi, my friend found a catapiller , took a picture of it and sent it to me. I would like to know what the name of it is and what the name of the butterfly it turns into is name. Thank you .
Signature: Girl with questions, Allie

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Allie,
This is a Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata, and we believe that despite the drought, this is going to be a year with significant numbers of Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars in desert areas because rains were well distributed, contributing to plant growth in the desert.  Adult Whitelined Sphinxes are streamlined moths that are often mistaken for hummingbirds.

Letter 38 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

 

Subject: Northern California Caterpillar
Location: Northern California
May 20, 2017 10:57 pm
Hi, saw this little guy outside tonight and just wondering what he might turn into
Signature: Rachel

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Rachel,
This is but one color variation of the highly variable Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata, and this BugGuide image is a very good color match to your individual.  The high rainfall we had this past season produced plants upon which the caterpillars feed, and we expect to be getting reports of caterpillar population explosions, especially from desert areas.  Our own porch light has attracted numerous adult Whitelined Sphinx Moths this spring. 

Letter 39 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar, dark form

 

Subject: Caterpillar
Location: Northern Virginia
September 22, 2012 8:47 pm
Hello,
Tonight we noticed a bunch of these on a dirt pile in our yard. We counted 11 of them. Can you please tell us what they are? None of us has ever seen a caterpillar with a spiky bum before 🙂
Signature: Thank you, Jen

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Jen,
This is a very dark form of the highly variable Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata.  It is the only member of the genus that the Sphingidae of the Americas website reports from Virginia.

Letter 40 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar: Green variant

 

Subject:  Caterpillar eating Mexican Primrose
Geographic location of the bug:  West LosAngeles
Date: 05/27/2019
Time: 07:53 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Bugman,
Is this the caterpillar that’s usually found on tomato plants?
How you want your letter signed:  Jeff Bremer

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Jeff,
This is a very green variation of the highly variable Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar.  Daniel saw thousands of black and yellow Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars munching on the wildflowers in Joshua Tree National Park this spring.  When there is significant rainfall in desert areas, there are tremendous population explosions of this species.  See BugGuide for an example of a green variant.  The Whitelined Sphinx moth is a lovely pollinator that is often mistaken for a hummingbird.  Several related species, including the Tobacco Hornworm and Tomato Hornworm feed on tomatoes and other related garden plants.

Whitlelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Letter 41 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar in Trona

 

Subject: Caterpillar
Location: Trona, CA.
April 4, 2015 5:41 pm
Dear Bugman,
Long time!
Here we have a photo of a specimen we saw out at the Trona Pinnacles, roughly 20 miles east of Ridgecrest, CA. Approximately 2″ long, these critters were everywhere! Is the horn dangerous? What kind of butterfly do they (possibly) evolve into?
Thanks again!
Signature: Tomas Arceo

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Tomas,
This is the caterpillar of a Whitelined Sphinx,
Hyles lineata, a species that periodically has tremendous population explosions in desert areas that often coincide with years when desert blooms also peak.

Letter 42 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar saved from Home Depot Staff!!!

 

Subject: What’s this Caterpillar?
Location: Frederick, Maryland
July 8, 2014 12:02 am
Hello!
My friend and I were picking up some plants for her mother at Home Depot, and we saw this big guy hanging out on one of the plants. I bought that one only so he wouldn’t be harmed by staff or other customers but I was wondering what kind of caterpillar he was, and if he turns into a butterfly or moth.
Thank you~!
Signature: – Karlee

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear Karlee,
You are our kind of Bug Humanitarian.  This is a Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata, and it is one of the greatest ranging moth species in North America.  Whitelined Sphinxes have been reported from all 48 continental United States as well as Canada and Mexico, and they are especially common in desert areas of the Southwest.  The caterpillars are highly variable, with black and yellow varieties commonly found along with green caterpillars like the one in your image.  The adult Whitelined Sphinx is a lovely moth that is often attracted to lights.  They also fly at dawn and dusk, a time known as crepuscular, so it is possible to view them pollinating flowers while there is still some daylight available.  

Letter 43 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars

 

caterpillars
Can you identify what these caterpillars are? They are all over the desert in Las Cruces NM after some rain!!
Shawn

Hi Shawn,
Your caterpillars belong to the Whitelined Sphinx or Striped Morning Sphinx, Hyles lineata. This moth can be found in all the continental United States and especially in the deserts it is prone to seasonal population explosions with 1000s of caterpillars appearing at once. The caterpillars have several different color morphs. Native Americans feasted on the caterpillars when they were plentiful.

Letter 44 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars Marching in Southwest

 

White-lined Sphinx caterpillars marching, Southern New Mexico
Hi bug people
Know you have many images of White-lined Sphinx caterpillars but thought you might like to see these. We’ve had an unusually wet summer, which I guess accounts for the huge numbers – hundreds of them on the move this morning. The first two shots are of the “march”, the last two show both yellow and green forms.
Jaymie Williamson
Las Cruces, New Mexico

Hi Jaymie,
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars are especially plentiful in arid areas of the Southwest this year. There was even a broadcast news story on the Los Angeles evening news.

Letter 45 – Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillars: Two color morphs

 

Fuschia Chompers
Hello Bug Pro
Can you tell me what these fellas are? The nearly destroyed the fuschia and sure traumatized my wife when she stuck her finger on one. We live in Lander, Wyoming
Thanks Scott

Hi Scott,
Your photo illustrates two possible color morphs of the Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar, Hyles lineata. There are several additional color possibilities. The adult moths are a lovely hummingbird type moth that often flies at dawn and dusk. It is sometimes called the Striped Morning Sphinx. Fuschia is one of the preferred host plants, but the caterpillars will also feed on other cultivated plants.

Letter 46 – Whitelined Sphinx Habitat

 

Subject: Habitat HELP!!
Location: Illinois
July 22, 2014 4:27 pm
Hello WTB ive been trying to gather some research for a bug i picked up today. Ive been searching for a caterpillar for quite some time n it actually found me! I believe i properly identified it as Hyles Gallii “Bedstraw Hawkmoth”. Its fairly big so i decided im going to keep it indoor, in an old fish tank. I was just going to try and mimick a woodsy outdoor habitat? I know ventilation is key so i will leave the top open or fix something over or wood a mostly enclosed area not good? I took some of its host plant i found it on so hes currently eating that. Any other tips? moisture, light, etc.
Signature: Corey

Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar
Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar

Hi Corey,
In our opinion, you have identified the correct genus, but not the correct species.  This is a Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar,
Hyles lineata.  Your old fish tank is a good habitat.  We would cover the top with screen, netting or cheesecloth to provide air circulation.  Keep it is a shaded location so the sun doesn’t bake your caterpillar through the glass.  Many caterpillars in this family dig beneath the earth to pupate, so loose, moist but not wet potting soil should be placed in the bottom of the habitat.  See BugGuide for additional information.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

31 thoughts on “White Lined Sphinx Moth Spiritual Meaning: Unveiling the Hidden Messages”

  1. Saw a gorgeous huge white line sphinx moth this morning on my morning glories. Unfortunately I was unable to get a photo but looked it up on line to confirm what I saw. He was a good 3-4″ long. At first glance I thought it was one of my humming birds then saw the markings and knew better. He was only about 2′ from me so I got a real good look. I live just N. of Dallas, TX and have never seen one of these around here before. Absolutely beautiful!

    Reply
  2. I think it’s wonderful that the caterpillar was saved but supporting Home Depot which like Lowe’s and Walmart are selling plants grown from seeds coated in neonicotinoids which are destroying insect populations, especially pollinators (not just honeybees) is not a good idea. We all need to make better choices for the world we all live in:

    http://action.foe.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15944

    I had meant to suggest to you (Bugman) earlier this year to have a pollinators’ week (or month) on WTB? It would be great if more people understood how connected we are in this world.

    ~~

    Oh, and I ended up with the body of an adult Euro version of the Whitelined Sphinx (Striped Hawk-moth — Hyles livornica) in Cyprus after s/he ended up stuck in a wall lamp… so very pretty. Turns out there was an adult Ant Lion there previously. A popular light I guess.

    Reply
  3. I think it’s wonderful that the caterpillar was saved but supporting Home Depot which like Lowe’s and Walmart are selling plants grown from seeds coated in neonicotinoids which are destroying insect populations, especially pollinators (not just honeybees) is not a good idea. We all need to make better choices for the world we all live in:

    http://action.foe.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15944

    I had meant to suggest to you (Bugman) earlier this year to have a pollinators’ week (or month) on WTB? It would be great if more people understood how connected we are in this world.

    ~~

    Oh, and I ended up with the body of an adult Euro version of the Whitelined Sphinx (Striped Hawk-moth — Hyles livornica) in Cyprus after s/he ended up stuck in a wall lamp… so very pretty. Turns out there was an adult Ant Lion there previously. A popular light I guess.

    Reply
  4. They’re all over the place a little north of Kingman this year – 8/2014 – looking forward to a big flush of moths soon. Had a lot of rain, flooding too, earlier in the year here.

    Reply
  5. I saw your post on theis caterpillar. I found one similar to this picture in mid Missouri. are they found generally here as well? Just curious for my classroom what it will eat so the kids can observe him for a bit. Thanks.

    Reply
    • They are found in all 48 lower states as well as Canada and Mexico. According to The Butterflies and Moths of North America, the caterpillars feed on: ” A great diversity of plants including willow weed (Epilobium), four o’clock (Mirabilis), apple (Malus), evening primrose (Oenothera), elm (Ulmus), grape (Vitis), tomato (Lycopersicon), purslane (Portulaca), and Fuschia.”

      Reply
  6. Posted amini video of these catipillars latchung in to our rental yard this year (september 2014) never saw them in Arizina prior to this month…they were droppingover neighbirs 6’+ wall!!!!!!

    Reply
    • According to the Sphingidae of the Americas website: “Larvae are highly varied and feed on a great diversity of plants including willow weed (Epilobium), four o’clock (Mirabilis), apple (Malus), evening primrose (Oenothera), elm (Ulmus), grape (Vitis), tomato (Lycopersicon), purslane (Portulaca), and Fuschia.” A plastic jar is not the ideal habitat. You need something with aeration and a moist, not wet, soil bottom for pupation.

      Reply
  7. um i found something like this but its all brown and has yellow lines on its side it is as long as my pointer finger and i wanna know if its dangerous to any one or pet because my cat was trying to eat it and now i think hes gonna get sick

    Reply
    • According to Desert Museum: “Known as makkum by the O’odham People, these caterpillars are bright yellow or green with longitudinal black stripes and lateral red dots. Fully grown, they are about three inches in length. … Tohono O’odham men, women, and children collected makkum during the caterpillar’s wandering pre-pupation phase. After removing the head and viscera, the larvae were traditionally roasted over hot coals and either eaten immediately,”

      Reply
  8. Fascinating! – I am confused by the unusual morph – and the hostplant of this caterpillar. It looks so much like a spurge hawk moth (Hyles euphorbiae) larva, and is feeding on a spurge (Euphorbia), to which this colours suit (due to the poisonous content). Is there any introduction of the latter species known – to fight some spurge species (also introduced)? – But they could be that similar, on the other hand, and H. lineata could feed on a spurge as well…

    Best wishes,
    Bostjan

    Reply
    • Hi Bostjan,
      We were confused with this individual, because we also thought it looked like Hyles euphorbiae, the Leafy Spurge Hawkmoth, but to the best of our knowledge, it is only found in western states on the Canadian border and in western Canada. Since BugGuide does list it in nearby Michigan, we now believe you are correct, and that coincides with our original thoughts on its identity.

      Reply
  9. Fascinating! – I am confused by the unusual morph – and the hostplant of this caterpillar. It looks so much like a spurge hawk moth (Hyles euphorbiae) larva, and is feeding on a spurge (Euphorbia), to which this colours suit (due to the poisonous content). Is there any introduction of the latter species known – to fight some spurge species (also introduced)? – But they could be that similar, on the other hand, and H. lineata could feed on a spurge as well…

    Best wishes,
    Bostjan

    Reply
  10. Dear Daniel, dear Emma,

    yes, a Hyles tithymali caterpillar indeed. The difference is clearly evident by the shape and pinkish colour of its lateral spots. I realised it, but I didn’t want to further comment on this detail, being sure that somebody had breeded this foreign species and let some of them free (which is forbidden – though not quite a risk in this case, as this mediterranean species would not be able to survive a continental winter, but laws and care make sense). Now I understand! Everything is ok. Thank You for this additional information – and the nice story! – And keep Your eyes open – the continental spurge hawk (Hyles euphorbiae) could really occur in Your area, as an introduced and fully synanthropic apecies.

    Best wishes,
    Bostjan

    Reply
  11. Dear Daniel, dear Emma,

    yes, a Hyles tithymali caterpillar indeed. The difference is clearly evident by the shape and pinkish colour of its lateral spots. I realised it, but I didn’t want to further comment on this detail, being sure that somebody had breeded this foreign species and let some of them free (which is forbidden – though not quite a risk in this case, as this mediterranean species would not be able to survive a continental winter, but laws and care make sense). Now I understand! Everything is ok. Thank You for this additional information – and the nice story! – And keep Your eyes open – the continental spurge hawk (Hyles euphorbiae) could really occur in Your area, as an introduced and fully synanthropic apecies.

    Best wishes,
    Bostjan

    Reply
  12. They only show up every 5 to 7 years They usually head east toward the Catalina. They will soon become a cool sphinx moth! And will be gone in a few days! Really cool!

    Reply

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