Category: sphingidae

Bugfingers White moth = saltmarsh moth Brown m…

Bugfingers

White moth = saltmarsh moth
Brown moth = walnut sphinx (remember the screaming caterpillar?)
Green stink bug
Brown stink bug

I wanted a moth on every finger, but couldn’t find enough. So I settled for bugs. But the green stinker wouldn’t cooperate, walked over the sphinx’s face, made him pee all over me, then walked over the saltmarsh moth’s face, peed on me himself, then flew off. Rude!

March 25, 2019

Regular

creosoteyote submitted:

image

Just got our first White Lined Sphinx Moth of the year!!

YESSS!!!!! Three of my sphinxes have popped out of their pupae so far! Both of the Tersas and one of the Walnuts (I need to post the photos!)

Our babies are COMING to US!!!

March 22, 2019

caterpillar-gifs: Tersa Sphinx Moth caterpill…

caterpillar-gifs:

Tersa Sphinx Moth caterpillar

New baby! Another gift, already spinning a leaf cocoon!

December 15, 2018

Hey! So the luna moth I recently posted on iNa…

Hey! So the luna moth I recently posted on iNat got me thinking. All the luna moths I've seen (in pictures) are much larger with brighter green, translucent wings. That's why I wasn't sure if it was Actias luna, or just in the genus Actius. I guess the same can be said for the flannel moth I posted, too. It's so close, but a little different. Is this just normal species variation? Or something else? I figured if anyone could answer, it'd be you! Pleasexthanks

Hello (finally)! You are absolutely correct to think this is normal species variation, and this is one of the trickiest parts about learning how to identify any type of living organism. How do you know that a Chihuahua and a St. Bernard are the same species without memorizing all the dog breeds? 

There are key morphological features that are still the same within a species, even if they are vastly different sizes, shapes, or colors. Range is also extremely important when you are identifying species. Actias is a fairly small genus, with approximately 25 species worldwide. If for no other reason, your green moth has to be Actias luna because of those 25 species, only one exists in North America.

Naturally, you may wonder why is there so much variation? Well, why is there so much variation between people? Why are some people tall when others are very short? Why do some people have brown eyes, when others have green eyes? The same factors can influence animals in similar ways, even if they are vastly different species. 

Genetics: Maybe your moth had the “short” gene!
Sex: Males/females of the insect world sometimes look so different, you wouldn’t believe they were the same species unless you studied them. Size differences are common, especially in species where the females lay hundreds of eggs.
Diet: If you have a caterpillar who is eating a nutrient-poor food, or who has difficulty finding enough to eat, they will mature more slowly, and will be smaller as an adult as a result. Also, some species of animals will be different colors depending on their diet. For example, Flamingos are naturally white!

image

Above: Two Polyphemus Moths, scaled so the rulers match up. Top is a male who had been exposed to pesticide as a caterpillar, and was smaller than average as an adult. Bottom is his wild (and very healthy) mother. 

Health: Related to diet, if a caterpillar survives having parasites, was exposed to pesticides, or had an infection, if they survive, they will likely be smaller as an adult.
Injury: Once the moth emerges from their pupa, they have to deal with birds biting at them, surprise rainstorms, spider webs, and all sorts of other dangers. The color on moths’ wings are the result of scales, and these scales can easily rub off as they avoid dangers (or they can lose parts of their wings!). If you are used to seeing Luna moths with mostly transparent wings, and you see one that is very solidly colored, it’s likely you met him when he was brand-new!

image

Above: A Snowberry Clearwing moth… before his wings lost their scales to become clear!

I hope this helps, and congratulations on seeing a Luna Moth, I still haven’t met a wild one!

October 22, 2018 (SORRRRRY)

pierrebellec submitted:

pierrebellec submitted:

hi!! i need a quick id on this guy! Found in North texas, i think he’s a vine sphinx moth and i’ve given him some beauty berry, but I’m not sure. I found him on the ground, not looking the greatest. Its really chilly and wet, so i brought him in.

Hi! Sorry, I didn’t even get a notification about your submission (UGH) and I can’t tell how long ago you sent this. You have a Polyphemus Moth caterpillar. Very similar in size to the sphinx moths, but the pattern and texture on the body is different. Most sphinx moths also have a tail, but the Vine Sphinx drops their tail as they grow, so they are easily confused with other large caterpillars.

Left: Vine Sphinx caterpillar / Right: Polyphemus Moth caterpillar. Note the color of the face and the stripes on the side of the body

Regarding food: you’re right that it’s important to know what species a caterpillar is to figure out what they eat. Some species will eat just about anything, and some are a lot pickier. The Vine Sphinx caterpillars will eat (guess!) vines! Mine were eating Sorrelvine (aka Possum Grape), and I read that they will also eat grape vines. Polyphemus moths will eat leaves from many types of woody trees and shrubs, including oak, rose, and elm.

There is a sphinx moth caterpillar that eats Beauty Berry: the Rustic Sphinx moth:

Some good resources for identification and host plant information are:

  • iNaturalist [link]: There is a tool that will identify what you took a photo of, and it’s pretty good! Worldwide
  • BugGuide [link]: They give ID tips and list host plants–but it can be harder to use if you don’t already know much about insect identification. I use BugGuide along with iNaturalist when I’m not sure about something. As an example, here is the page for Polyphemus Moths, which lists host plants [link]. North America.
  • The Natural History Museum’s HOSTS database [link]: A massive searchable database for caterpillars and host plants. You can search by caterpillar OR plant, for if you know the caterpillar but not the plant, OR if you know the plant the caterpillar is eating, but you don’t know the caterpillar. Worldwide.

ALSO: feel free to send me a direct message anytime. Even if I’m not actively posting, I typically check tumblr at least once a day, and I try to respond to direct messages as soon as I can. My inbox has a tendency to … build up a bit.

I hope your caterpillar is okay! I know our weather has been pretty horrible lately (Central Texas has been FLOODING), but the bugs in Austin appear to be doing okay.

October 22, 2018

Regular

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

A Banana Pepper

Briefly went out front to grab more rose leaves for the squirmy wiggly babs, and I saw a fat chunk dangling from the possum grape vine. This was the Food Of Choice for my vine sphinxes. But I had only seen green or brown before!

Exciting!!!!!

October 14, 2018 (1:30 am… I guess that’s just when they come out!)

My banana pepper was prepupal this morning! Look at that adorable pink blush! ☺️

The enclosure I put him in was apparently not up to his standards, because he made an attempt to bury himself and gave up. So I filled a large bowl up with several inches of soil and relocated him.

I went to the kitchen to grab my breakfast, then went back to check on him.

There he goes!!!

Sphinx moth caterpillars burrow into the soil, and create a dirt-cocoon which looks like a little cave. This bab is late enough in the season he may hibernate in his little hole until spring.

October 14, 2018 (10:30 am)

Hard at work (underground)

Working on his cocoon!

October 14, 2018 (evening)

Regular

nanonaturalist:

A Banana Pepper

Briefly went out front to grab more rose leaves for the squirmy wiggly babs, and I saw a fat chunk dangling from the possum grape vine. This was the Food Of Choice for my vine sphinxes. But I had only seen green or brown before!

Exciting!!!!!

October 14, 2018 (1:30 am… I guess that’s just when they come out!)

My banana pepper was prepupal this morning! Look at that adorable pink blush! ☺️

The enclosure I put him in was apparently not up to his standards, because he made an attempt to bury himself and gave up. So I filled a large bowl up with several inches of soil and relocated him.

I went to the kitchen to grab my breakfast, then went back to check on him.

There he goes!!!

Sphinx moth caterpillars burrow into the soil, and create a dirt-cocoon which looks like a little cave. This bab is late enough in the season he may hibernate in his little hole until spring.

October 14, 2018 (10:30 am)

Regular

A Banana Pepper

Briefly went out front to grab more rose leaves for the squirmy wiggly babs, and I saw a fat chunk dangling from the possum grape vine. This was the Food Of Choice for my vine sphinxes. But I had only seen green or brown before!

Exciting!!!!!

October 14, 2018 (1:30 am… I guess that’s just when they come out!)

caterpillar-gifs: Snowberry Clearwing caterpi…

caterpillar-gifs:

Snowberry Clearwing caterpillar making a cocoon

patchesthecryptid:

patchesthecryptid:

@nanonaturalist what kinda beautiful friend is this? It looks like a cross between a vine sphinx and a rosy maple

iNat to the rescue!

It is a Sphinx moth for sure (wing shape!). The species is Small Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila porcellus) and it’s native to Eurasia and northern Africa. Also, BEAUTIFUL 😍

September 14, 2018