|Caterpillar and adult White-lined Sphinx|
|Der Kosmos Insektenfuehrer, by J.Zahradnik|
Breeding twice annually between February and November Hyles lineata populations seem to go through cycles of population buildups and some sources assume that those trigger emigration and colonization of more northern areas.
As caterpillars they consume a very wide variety of food plants from willow weed (Epilobium), four o'clock (Mirabilis), apple (Malus), evening primrose (Oenothera), elm (Ulmus), grape (Vitis), tomato (Lycopersicon), purslane (Portulaca), and Fuschia, also Rumex and Galium in Europe.
|Hyles lineata nectaring on Cardinal Flower in Sycamore Canyon|
|A dark caterpillar in Prescott|
|In some years, H. lineata is not very common, but a few appear most nights. Peppersauce Canyon, Catalina Mts|
|Light colored caterpillar with pronounced back stripe, lower Sonoran Desert, Tucson|
|These were all together in a patch of Mexican Prim Roses in Green Valley|
|Hyles lineata caterpillars at Saguaro National Park August 2007|
In Lois' garden we noticed how difficult it was to find the big caterpillars in the flower beds. The dark colors were certainly very cryptic between the branches of the lush green plants while the bright green blended in with leaves in the sun. The great differences in appearance made it quite difficult to form a search image. Did you notice the smaller lime green caterpillar in the photo with the big yellow one? I should mention here that the colors do not seem to be aposematic. I had a young Jackdaw at home in Germany who seemed to like the caterpillars on his menu, and here in Tucson I watched even the notoriously seed-eating Northern Cardinal devouring every bit of a very fat one, which took several minutes and a couple of location changes to get away from Desert Museum visitors. I also remember a side-blotched lizard grabbing several small ones. So they are tasty.
|A bad photo, but a great color variant from Prescott|