Monday, 8 September 2014

Sphingidae family; Hawk Moths, or Hummingbird Moths – another 'last one'

Diurnal clearwing: a smaller sphinx moth
AKA Hummingbird moth
 Here is another critter that will soon disappear. The Hawk Moths, or Hummingbird Moths are fascinating.

Here are some of my giant moth photos. Most are nocturnal, I'd guess to avoid birds! Hubby was reading in the backyard the other day and a dragonfly landed on his book, carrying a spider larger than the dragonfly's head, and promptly began to eat it!
Paonias excaecata
Blinded sphinx

I do depend on the volunteer experts at BAMONA to help me ID them. You'll notice that the Butterfly and Moth books feature very few caterpillars. Thing is, we see them flit about the garden as moths, but it is so much easier to photograph them as caterpillars, and then they cocoon and fly away for the rest of the seasons (Fall, winter, spring.) It is most discouraging that they are hard to differentiate at the caterpillar stage.
Sphinx Chersis
Hubby helped with photos!
You can see the size of them!

Of course, once I get into my files, I find more of the lovely moths that I shall miss, once winter sets in.
Io moth;  Saturniidae; Automeris io

We're not sure which one my 8cm caterpillar might be, but since I've had quite a few Hyles lineata; White-lined Sphinx. They adore my phlox plants and I've battled mosquitoes in the night to get photos. Here are a few shots of the nocturnal beauties.

The Sphingidae belong to the Superfamily Sphingoidea.
Members of this family are commonly called "hummingbird," "sphinx," or "hawk" moths, and some can be mistaken for hummingbirds. Most are medium to large moths, with heavy bodies; wingspread reaches 5 inches or more in some species. The Sphingidae are strong and fast fliers, with a rapid wingbeat.
I'm thinking that this caterpillar might be the

Tersa Sphinx; Xylophanes tersa. Family: Sphingidae Subfamily: Macroglossinae

They have a fairly unmarked body.
Or Sphinx chersis
Great ash sphinx

Here is my large caterpillar buddy, found in my Wild Oregano patch. I was tempted to keep it in my aquarium, and let it morph there, but I didn't want to risk it. I found it the next day, in the same patch (such little feet) , took a few more photos and set it back down in the oregano.
Sphinx moths, Aren't they huge?

I have had expert confirmation:
Lintneria eremitus Hermit sphinx


Hilary said...

Wow.. you've got some interesting critters there. And you managed some great shots. I've always wondered if the hummingbird moth was just something found further south. I'll have to take a closer look at our hummingbirds from now on. ;)

Hilary said...

And come to think of it, I didn't think we would see flying squirrels around here either.. until you posted photos. But we've had a pair of them come around almost every night since spring.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Great photos of the little critters Jenn.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Great photos of the little critters Jenn.

Anonymous said...

WHat great shots.

Anonymous said...

Great shots.

Nancy J said...

Lovely series, and the caterpillar, not the prettiest, but he has a charm all of his own. I'm sure the oregano plant will be home for a while yet. Cheers,Jean.

William Kendall said...

I see the occasional caterpillar here, and you're right, the books don't really go into detail on them at that phase in their lives.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
A fine array; as lovely as the winged versions are, I do find the caterpillars as fascinating. YAM xx