White Lined Sphinx Moth: Don’t Squish This Caterpillar (+ benefits)
Meet Hyles Lineata
Have you seen this critter on your garden plants this season? Meet one of our favorite creepy crawlers, Hyles lineata. This imposing caterpillar will eventually morph into the beautiful white lined sphinx moth. Sphinx moths are often confused for hummingbirds in the garden, as their flight pattern and quick wing movement mimics that of a hummingbird. They are quite enjoyable to watch and are excellent pollinators.
If he looks similar to a different insect, check out our Insect Identification Guide to see which insect or pest you might be dealing with!
Are Sphinx Moths Beneficial?
Yes! Moths in general pick up pollen on their legs and wings when they visit flowers and deposit pollen (accidentally) on subsequent floral visits. They hover near flowers, feeding on nectar via a proboscis (mouth tube or “tongue”). Although a few species of moths are pests, most sphinx moths do not cause significant injury to plants they feed on.
Though the hungry caterpillars can be vexing at times, the benefits of an adult sphinx moth are worth the small trouble.
White Lined Sphinx Moth Caterpillar
While the White Lined Sphinx caterpillars can cause some damage garden plants they’ll also munch on unwanted weeds, such as in the photo. Chemical control of these caterpillars is typically unwarranted, as you’ll typically only find one or two in your garden. If they are munching on a favorite plant of yours, simply move them to the weeds!
Keeping a balanced, organic landscape ensures that many beneficial pollinators, such as the Sphinx Moth, will thrive.