In our garden this week, we noticed several Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars (Papilio polyxenes). They are beautiful! I counted one dozen of them feeding on the parsley plants in our garden. And, with one dozen of them eating those plants, their food supply is diminishing quickly!
At first upon seeing these caterpillars, I thought they might be those of the Anise Swallowtail, however I have never seen that type of swallowtail in the eastern part of the United States. The Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar, however, is quite similar to the Anise Swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio zelicaon), and can be easily deceiving in potentially confusing them with each other.
I am thrilled to have observed and photographed these caterpillars this week on our parsley plants, especially because birds, spiders, and/or wasps often prey on various caterpillars in our yard before they become adult butterflies or moths. It was a real treat for my family to see and enjoy these lovely specimens!
This morning, as I was loading up my son’s backpack and instrument in my vehicle for the daily drive to school, a Tersa Sphinx Moth (Xylophanes tersa) flew past my left ear and into the vehicle! What a wonderful late summer treat here in Georgia!
As the moth flew past me into my vehicle, I heard a loud whirring sound, and knew it was some type of large moth. Because it was still quite dark outside, it was difficult to ascertain whether or not the moth was in my vehicle, however I saw it flying around. It’s wings were moving so, so fast – just like those of a hummingbird. And, the sound that it’s wings made were just like those of a hummingbird, as well.
I decided to close the door of my vehicle so the moth remained inside until I was able to show it to my son. In fact, I showed it to my entire family, explaining about the loud whirring sound of it’s wings when it flew past my ear, sounding like the hum of a hummingbird’s wings. My son let it out of the vehicle, and after getting it’s wings warmed up by landing on a nearby plant, it was on it’s way. What a nice experience to start off our morning!
Brown, B. (2011). Coral Reef Photos. Retrieved on September 17, 2013. http://www.coralreefphotos.com/tersa-sphinx-moth-xylophanes-tersa-tersa-moths/tersa-sphinx-hodges-xylophanes-tersa/