This Small-eyed Sphinx Moth (Paonias myops) was resting on my vehicle on May 9, 2016 near Atlanta, Georgia. I have been wanting to post it for some time, but have been happily busy with some other responsibilities. I found a stick, got the moth to climb onto it, and transferred the moth to an azalea bush before driving away. Enjoy!
I have been remiss in publishing this for awhile now. On September 4, there was a beautiful Pandora Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha pandorus) resting on an azalea bush outside my home. It was quite large, and I expect that it was probably a female. I photographed it and left it where it was, with my family also viewing and enjoying its beauty. I have had the pleasure of seeing these moths here in the South, having seen many in past years in North Carolina. They are truly gorgeous!
About one month ago, while clearing away some of the dead flowers in the flower bed from last year, we located a silk moth cocoon. We brought it indoors, and I have kept it in a warm, dry place on a shelf with some cards and knick-knacks since then.
Today (July 5, 2015), a beautiful male Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus) emerged from the cocoon. This evening, my son and I let it go in the woods near our home. He was quite a beauty to behold, and we are so happy to have been able to observe and enjoy him!
On March 11, 2014, I saw the first butterfly of the year of 2014 in my area around Atlanta, Georgia. It was an Eastern tailed blue butterfly, Cupido comyntas. The outdoor temperature reached at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit; and the butterfly was flittering around, casually, through the air.
On the evening of March 10, 2014, having been another warm day, I also saw the first moth of the year, a small, common wood moth. Both the butterfly and the moth flew right past me, bringing a smile to my face. Spring has arrived, although the approaching freezing temperatures due to the winter blizzard being experienced in the North will put a damper on the flowering and budding for awhile yet.
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/
My mom’s garden is the perfect place for tomato hornworm caterpillars to live, grow, and develop. With her dozen six-foot high tomato plants, there have been two tomato hornworm caterpillars feasting on the tender top leaves of two of the giant plants. While the great amount of rain and lack of sunshine we have had this summer in middle Georgia has slowed the ripening of the tomatoes, it has not slowed the growth of the caterpillars!
Our resident male cardinal also appears to be happy about the habitation of the tomato hornworm caterpillars in my mom’s garden because he seems to have evicted one of them, having it end up in his stomach! Normally, my mom would view these caterpillars as pests to her garden, though through being educated by me in Lepidoptera and entomology, she now allows them to eat her garden plants. We hope that the lone surviving adult caterpillar will make it through metamorphosis and become a lovely tomato hornworm moth.
Two weeks ago, my son and I visited the fabulous Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, Gainesville Campus! If you are a Lepidoptera lover, this is a place that I highly recommend that you visit! In the entomology section of the museum there is a Butterfly Rainforest; a laboratory; caterpillar rearing exhibits; a pupae room; display cases of butterflies, moths, and other insects; nearly a three-storied high display of butterflies and moths in cases and/or photographs of them; models of butterflies and moths; and videos about butterflies that are presented.
The Florida Museum of Natural History includes a Butterfly Rainforest within a section that is devoted mostly to Lepidoptera – butterflies, moths, caterpillars, and pupae. The Butterfly Rainforest is a tropically-styled habitat for butterflies and moths, and it includes many trees, plants, flowers, birds, fish, and turtles. In the Butterfly Rainforest, we observed many different species of tropical butterflies, photographs of some of which are included in this post.
To me, the most beautiful of the butterflies in the Butterfly Rainforest were the Morpho butterflies. The large Morphos (Morpho peleides) in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat have eyespots on the undersides of their brown wings, and have a beautiful, irridescent blue color on the upper side of their wings. The striking, large Owl butterflies (Caligo memnon or Caligo idomeneus), also with beautiful eyespots, were also wonderful to view.
There were also several Paper Kite butterflies (Idea leuconoe) in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat. These butterflies may also be known as Rice Paper butterflies or Large Tree Nymph butterflies. They butterflies are large, with a wingspan of about 4″-5″, and have black and white stripes on their wings. They are slow and deliberate in their flight, and remind me of kites that are flying in the wind.
A couple of other butterflies that my son and I enjoyed observing in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat included the Brown Clipper (Parthenos sylvia brown) and Blue Clipper (Parthenos sylvia blue). This butterfly has two color forms – brown and blue – and is respectively native to the Phillipines and Malaysia. Both butterflies are beautiful to behold. They are fast fliers; and their stripes resemble those of tigers.
A very unique feature of the Florida Museum of Natural History, Lepidoptera and Entomology Section, is the Butterfly Wall. This wall is nearly three stories high, and contains photographs of butterflies and moths, as well as display cases that show them. It is extremely impressive! Following are photographs of the Butterfly Wall, as well as certain sections of it. Also to follow are pictures of the Pupae Room and Caterpillar Rearing Area. Some of the photos may also include my son.
Also included in the Museum were many display cases that presented butterflies, moths, and other insects. Following are photos of a few of the display cases.
Videos educating visitors about Lepidoptera were also available for viewing at the Museum. While my son and I were there, we watched a portion of a video about Monarch butterflies. It was great to be able to explain to my son how Monarchs migrate and roost.
All of the butterflies in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat were a real treat to watch as they flew throughout the enclosure, with a few landing on their human observers. In all, we spent about two hours at the Florida Museum of Natural History, also enjoying the Titanoboa Exhibit. We had a really great time there, and wish we could have stayed longer!
Manduca inquemaculata, or the tomato hornworm, is a large green caterpillar, the larvae of sphinx or hawk moths. Tomato hornworms eat the foliage of tomato or tobacco plants, and are sometimes confused with tobacco hornworms since they look very similar to each other.
During the summer of 2011, there were several tomato hornworms that fed on the foliage of our tomato plants in Georgia. We purposely did not put any form of insecticides or insect powders on the tomato plants, just so the tomato hornworms would have a nice feast. By the end of the summer, there were at least five tomato hornworms feasting on our tomato plants. I also had the pleasure of taking two of them for “Show and Tell” in my son’s second grade class at his school in August 2011, later releasing them back onto the garden tomato plants.
One evening, shortly after ceasing to see the tomato hornworm larvae anymore, and assuming they had pupated, I happened to witness a large female praying mantis feeding on a tomato hornworm sphinx moth that she had caught. She had adeptly caught the moth while it was feeding on the nectar of a flower, holding it with her “praying” front legs. When she had finished eating it, she left only the wings that settled on the ground.
Pictured above is a photo of my son with one of the tomato hornworm “pets” that we lovingly observed, cared for, and “adopted” during the summer of 2011. I had placed the caterpillar on his shirt, and it felt ticklish to him as it crawled upward on his clothing. We had great fun with our tomato hornworm caterpillars last summer!
Pictured above is a tomato hornworm moth from my own personal Lepidoptera collection. It is one that I caught near Statesville, North Carolina in the summer of 2005. It is impressive and beautiful with it’s vivid coloring and bright orange body spots.