White-Lined Sphinx Moth: The Prequel

White-lined sphinx moth caterpillar (Hyles lineata)

When I discovered this gem trucking along a Gillespie County roadside in early May, it appeared to be headed toward a patch of pretty yellow primroses, members of the family (Onagraceae) that includes some of Hyles lineata’s favored host plants.

Their distinctive patterns, rear ‘horn,’ and dotted head and anal plate make identification of these mature caterpillars relatively easy. On the other hand, anyone who’d not yet encountered a white-lined sphinx moth browsing an evening flower garden or shady canyon creek might find it hard to imagine the result of the caterpillar’s transformation. It’s one of those remarkable stories nature’s more than happy to produce.

Adult white-lined sphinx moth feeding on wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) 

 

Comments always are welcome.
For my earlier post devoted to the white-lined sphinx moth in art and science, please click here.

A Different Drift of White

White prickly poppy (Argemone albiflora)

 

While reports of bluebonnet, Indian paintbrush, and phlox sightings have begun to multiply, I’ve yet to find a mention of this glorious native flower in the postings I’ve read.

No matter. The absence of mentions made finding this trio on a recent drive around the Willow City Loop, near Fredericksburg, wholly unexpected and purely delightful. Discovering pastures and ditches filled with additional flowers thrilled me even more.

Caught in a tangle of prickly pear, dead branches, and eroding rock, my first poppies of the year seemed perfectly situated: truly wild, and eminently Texan.

 

Comments always are welcome.

 

A Preview of Coming Attractions

Bluebonnet ~ Lupinus texensis

Every spring, Texans indulge in a statewide ritual known as “going to see the bluebonnets.” Most don’t have far to travel, since the flowers can be found in nearly every part of the state. In full bloom, they’re truly spectacular, and well worth the journey.

Originally, Lupinus subcarnosus, a bluebonnet found in sandy loam in southern parts of the state, was named the state flower, but supporters of four other Texas lupine species argued on behalf of their favorites. Eventually, a satisfactory conclusion was reached, and five species of bluebonnet were designated the state flower: L. havardii, the Big Bend or Chisos Bluebonnet; L.  concinnus, found in the Trans-Pecos region; L. plattensis, a Panhandle species also known as the dune bluebonnet; and L. texensis, the brilliant blue flower whose colonies carpet central Texas in spring. Should a new species of bluebonnet be discovered, it, too, will become a state flower.

Thanks to geneticists and plant breeders, seeds for maroon or white bluebonnets can be purchased, and differently colored flowers — pink, purple, and white — sometimes are seen in nature.

When I found the burgundy-tinged flower shown above thriving on the Willow City Loop outside Fredericksburg  last weekend, I thought it especially elegant. Whether a touch of cold weather affected its color, or whether it’s a natural variant, I can’t say, but I thought it lovely, and delightfully different from the early bluebonnets surrounding it.

A truly blue example of L. texensis

It’s still too early to experience the flowers in their full glory, but when their time comes, I’ll be “going to see the bluebonnets” myself.

Comments always are welcome.