Photo: "Hummingbird Moth (9691010084)" by Larry Lamsa - Hummingbird MothUploaded by PDTillman. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
March 10, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - Anza Borrego’s desert wildflowers are both beautiful and fragile.
Some of the best wildflower displays in years were reported just days ago along DiGiorgio Road. But now, a natural predator has moved in—in droves. Voracious caterpillars are chowing down those delicate blooms—and may next feast on blossoms along Henderson Canyon Road.
The Anza Borrego Desert State Park website reported on Monday, “The advance of the caterpillars means that our big fields of flowers will not be around much longer. The flowers that existed on Giorgio Road a week ago are now entirely gone due to the caterpillars.”
But it’s not all bad news. Those caterpillars will soon under a metamorphosis, turning into white-linked sphinx moths – commonly known as hummingbird moths--and the moths help pollinate the flower fields for future growth.
The moths are also a favorite delicacy of migrating Swainson’s hawks, which have swooped into Anza Borrego and are now reportedly gorging on caterpillars.
Fortunately you can still see desert wildflowers in some other nearby locations. For details you can visit the Anza Borrego Desert State Park website or call the State Park Wildflower hotline at 760-767-4684.