What’s this Moth Doing in My Potatoes?

This big guy showed up while I was down on my hands and knees digging potatoes.  It landed right in front of me and didn’t try to fly away when I picked it up.  It is a really pretty moth.  Almost the whole underwing is pink, and the moth shows off the bright color when its wings are open.  All the pictures I shot with the wings open are blurred because of the moth’s wingbeats, but I posted one anyway, just to show what it looks  like.

I thought it was a hummingbird moth, but until I did a search I did not know for sure.  It’s a White-lined Sphinx Moth – Hyles lineata. It’s common to Wisconsin and not usually a pest.   It’s called a hummingbird moth because it is very big and noisy when it flies and it sucks nectar from flowers with a long proboscis, kind of like a hummingbird.  I thought this one was injured because it didn’t seem to be able to fly, but when I set it on the sidewalk to try to get some more pictures, it revved up to take-off speed and cruised away.

After the moth adventure, I went back to digging potatoes and unearthed the balance of my reds and purples that I had started to harvest a few days ago.  I only planted one bed of spuds this year.  I usually do two.  I still got a nice mix of over 30 pounds of the Red Durango and Purple Adirondack potatoes and I still have about a third of a bed left to dig, which will be mostly Rose Finn Fingerlings.

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6 Responses to “What’s this Moth Doing in My Potatoes?”

  1. Kylee says:

    We had one of these flying around a couple of years ago around this time of year. Love the pink, don’t you? 🙂 Great potatoes!

  2. Noel says:

    I’m amazed at the diversity of moths. Most that we see are small and quite bland, color-wise, but this one is large and strikingly beautiful.

  3. Melissa says:

    I am in Dallas, Texas, and spotted one of these in my basil this morning. Very lovely, but quite large! He flew around and then found a little hiding spot. He has been hanging out for about 14 hours now… I will see if he is there in the morning. I didn’t notice any pink on him… I will try to send pic in the morning…:)

  4. Heather k says:

    I have two of these pretty moths living on my porch at the moment. They showed up yesterday and have not moved since. They seem to be either sunbathing or sleeping. But I’m just letting them be. They have not be a pest at all, except their size intimidates my six year old daughter *giggle*. I’m glad to know what they are and that they feed off the nectar of flowers. I have plenty of those in my garden for them.

  5. SANDY says:


  6. I had this beautiful moth in my hosta’s yesterday. It was enjoying the white flowers for over a half hour. I thought it was a hummingbird when I first saw it. Very similar in its flight.