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Desert Caterpillar - fast, fat, and frequent - Hyles lineata

Desert Caterpillar - fast, fat, and frequent - Hyles lineata
Near Kelso, Mojave National Preserve, San Bernardino County, California, USA
April 24, 2008
I've never seen caterpillars move so quickly. They were feasting on Mohavea or Mentzelia, the plants were too decimated to make a positive ID. They were mostly on sand, and the area was covered with their tracks. Quite an impressive sight. Now I'd like to know what kind of an amazing adult they turn into.

Sphinx Moth Caterpillar
Look through the Family Sphingidae while we wait for someone more knowledgeable to narrow it down further.

This is the White-lined Sphynx, Hyles lineata. It's populations often explode on Desert Evening Primrose and related plants. The caterpillar bites and vomits when handled.

Thanks for the ID, I'm glad I didn't handle the caterpillar, how nasty! I also saw a lizard in the desert that the books say will occasionally spew blood from its eye openings if severely provoked. These desert creatures really know how to defend themselves!

Andy, I have a few photos of desert bees I will be posting in the next few days. Maybe you can help me with them too.

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