Ramblin' Cameras Featured Images - Gallery 2 Featured Image 24

Featured Image 26

More about the above image


Sphinx Moth Emerges from Hiding in Hedgehog Cactus

White Mountains Wilderness Area, New Mexico

*The large White Lined Sphinx Moth, (Hiles lineata), sometimes called a Hummingbird Moth or Hawk Moth, is not uncommon in North American Desert regions.  Aside from its visual appeal, however, the above subject also has interest due to the circumstances under which it was encountered. 

In the morning at about 9:00 we were examining a cactus we had come upon in the southern Organ Mountains of New Mexico.  The cactus had caught our attention because it differed from others in the surrounding area.  Our best guess was that it was a hybrid, perhaps between the locally common Echinocereus enneacanthus var. straminius , or 'Straw Cactus;'  and another, maybe the less common  Echinocereus enneacanthus

In the process of our examination,  we noticed motion.  As we watched, the moth pictured above crawled out of hiding in the interior of the cactus, then paused, remaining motionless.  We then backed away so as not to disturb the moth.

We were struck by the security of the moth's hiding place, and also by the way the patterning of the wings and body seemed to blend with the spiny cactus.  We do  not know if such a protective behavior is unique, or  commonly employed.  We have never since encountered such behavior.

The caterpillars of the White Lined Sphinx Moth are for the most part encountered only rarely.  However, as we have witnessed, abundant rainfall and associated greenery can result in a caterpillar 'plague'.

Back to Image