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The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group.  It is a place to note of any observations you have made of the world around you.  Insects, weather, meteorites, climate, birds and/or flowers.  All are worthy additions to the bucket.  Please let us know what is going on around you in a comment.  Include, as close as is comfortable for you, where you are located. Each note is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the patterns that are quietly unwinding around us.

Bisbee, Arizona

During the last week, at dusk, I noticed more than the usual whizzing activity around the flowers. The white-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata) moth has been hanging around since March and is a common sight in the garden.


The size of the shadows zipping and hovering around me seamed larger than the average white-lined sphinx moth so I began to suspect other moths from the same family.

The common names for the moth family Sphingidae is the hummingbird, hawk or sphinx moths. The flowers attracting these moths are the petunias, columbines, penstemons and the evening primroses.

I have to admit that I got pretty excited to get the following photographs to add to my moth collection.

Five-spotted hawkmoth - Manduca quinquemaculata
Wing Span: 3 9/16 - 5 5/16 inches (9 - 13.5 cm).

Caterpillar Hosts: Tomato, Tobacco, Potato and numerous other plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae).


Five Spotted Hawkmoth

Pink-spotted hawkmoth - Agrius cingulata
Wing Span: 3 3/4 - 4 3/4 inches (9.5 - 12 cm).

Caterpillar Hosts: Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), jimsonweed (Datura), and related plants.

Pink Spotted Hawkmoth



Last year, I discovered a variety of caterpillars in the yard that I hope to match up with the adults and vice versa. Below is the caterpillar for white-lined sphinx moth.

This young caterpillar was found in the grass near the scarlet spiderling.
White Lined Sphinx Larva

This last instar caterpillar was under the Colorado four o'clock (Mirabilis multiflora)

White-lined Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

Caterpillar Hosts: 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.


Moths of Southeastern Arizona

Butterflies and Moths of North America

My garden has several of the the caterpillar host plants: tomato, eggplant, capsicum, petunia, datura, evening primroses and the scarlet spiderling. You can bet that I'm on the alert for the health of my young vegetable plants. For an experiment, I'm planning to place the dreaded tomato and tobacco hornworms on the volunteer tomato plants near the compost rather than destroying them.

I look forward to reading your contributions to the bucket in the comments below.

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Wed May 01, 2013 at 08:02 AM PDT.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks and Community Spotlight.

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