Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lettered Sphinx Moth

This moth was standing on the screen of the bathroom window on Monday morning, the eleventh.

Because I’m not very good about identifying the basic brown moths (all I knew was that this was some kind of sphinx), I made a point of looking it up. “What’s That Bug” to the rescue! Here is their page for sphinx moths.

Another Web site that was helpful is this one.

So what we have here is a lettered sphinx moth, Deidamia inscriptum.

Other well-known members of the sphinx moth family (the Sphingidae) include hummingbird and clearwing moths (which look like a cross between a hummingbird and a bumble bee), tomato hornworms (most sphinx moth larvae have a horn on their tails), and many others. They are often remarkably large, and many have glorious colors, eyespots on their hind wings, and so on. Some of the darker species look like B-2 bombers when they’re at rest. Really cool.

Anyway, this little feller is one of the more drab types, though this species does have the distinction of being one of the earliest sphinx moths to emerge in springtime.

Adults like to feed from lilac and phlox flowers, apparently, and the larvae like to chew up leaves of grape and Virginia creeper, as well as members of the genus Ampelopsis (more vines: possum grape, porcelain berry, peppervine, etc.; some of these plants are invasive exotics).

Lettered sphinx moths are found in the eastern half of our country, more or less.

From the same Web site cited above: “Females call at night, and males fly into the wind to pick up and track the pheromone plume. The species is also active during the day.”

Males, such as this one, commonly rest with the abdomen strongly curved. Probably showing off their “junk,” huh?

Or . . . just happy to be alive—in between the severe thunderstorms, we’ve been having some really nice weather this spring.


Ry said...

Cool, too bad they don't live out here too. I like the scalloped-edge wings

Julie said...

Yeahhh, scalloped and kind of wavy, too. As well as being a peeping tom as I got out of the shower! (Moth perv--interspecies voyeurism!) . . . Hey, I see you list dog's vomit slime mold as an interest--I love it, too. You can stay tuned, 'cause I'll be taking pictures of great colonies of it within a few months! (And do you get devil's urns where you are?)

Ry said...

We get many Hyles lineata moths and they pollinate my Cereus peruvians for me so I can eat the yummy fruit. In return for their pollination servises I grow their host plants, mainly Clarkia and Oenothera. I don't think I have seen any devils urns but that doesn't mean they are not here. What we do have commonly is the birds nest fungus:

They grew at my old house but not here at my new place so I don't have any pictures of my own yet. I need to locate some and collect the "eggs" from the nest which can be sown like seeds. On the coast in an old citrus orchard there were stinky squid fungi and they sure stunk.

I look forward to seeing you dog's vomit slime mold pictures.

Julie said...

Oh yeah, I know what you mean about "many" H. lineata moths: I was hiking in the Phoenix area (South Mountain to be exact) one late summer when it was a "good year" for them--the caterpillars were everywhere. Very cool.

We have bird's nest fungi here, too; mainly associated with landscaping mulch. Devil's urns, velvety black goblets, are associated with oaks, I think; like morels, they are a springtime delight. I've never seen squid fungi in person but would like to see one sometime.

Soon, too, I hope to be seeing our stinkhorns . . . this year I put some hokey yard decorations out where they usually, um, poke and prod out of the ground. Together they should make an amusing scene. I can't wait.

Have you seen this Web site? Remarkable photos:

I love common names of fungi; like the common names of flowers, they are distinctly poetic--only in a modern-poetry sort of way.