Ok, theredthrone said “i wanna see, the biggest moth you got“ and this one sure qualifies!
This huge Waved Sphinx (Ceratomia undulosa) dive-bombed me at the light last night and then would *not* get off of my arm. I don’t think I will ever get used to that feeling of a big moth walking on my skin, it feels like two pieces of velcro slowly being ripped apart…
This Death’s head moth may have a nice skull pattern on its thorax, but its disguise is actually its scent.
Adults in this genus are sugar-loving (like some humans you may know) and this species,
Acherontia atropos, specializes in visiting the hives of the Western Honey Bee for honey. It is able to enter the hive and access this treat because it mimics the scent of the resident bees.
My man says they are a huge bug on my tomato , ME WHERE!
Has already eaten one tomato this size today was mad when it ate all the rest of the stalk and stood up, I had to sneek another one. So we will see in the morning how much it has ate!!!Love the little hairy (claw) Feet!!!!
Class Insecta (Insects) Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths) Superfamily Bombycoidea (Silkworm, Sphinx, and Royal Moths) Family Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths) Other Common Names Hawk Moths (adults) Hornworms (larvae) Synonyms and other taxonomic changes Sphingidae Latreille, 1802 Explanation of Names Sphingidae from the type genus Sphinx (Linnaeus), for the Egyptian Sphinx. Common name “Hornworm” due to the stiff pointy dorsal extension near the end of the abdomen of most larvae. Numbers There are 124 described species found in America north of Mexico.(1) Size Wingspan 28-175 mm. Identification Adult - medium to very large. Body very robust; abdomen usually tapering to a sharp point. Wings usually narrow; forewing sharp-pointed or with an irregular outer margin. No ocelli or tympanal organs. Proboscis usually well developed, extremely long in some species that feed in flowers with deep calyxes. Antennae gradually thicken along length, then become narrower toward tip. Larva - naked except for a few scattered hairs. Most have a prominent dorsal horn at the tip of abdomen (thus the name, hornworms). Range Throughout North America. Season Year round in the south Food Larvae feed both day and night on many kinds of woody and herbaceous plants. Adults feed on nectar and some are important pollinators. Life Cycle Usually pupate in soil, though some form loose cocoons among leaf litter. Remarks Some are active only at night, others at twilight or dawn, and some, such as the clearwings (e.g. genus Hemaris - not to be confused with the Clearwing family, Sesiidae) feed on flower nectar during the day. Some larvae (hornworms) do serious damage to crop plants (e.g. tomato, tobacco, potato). Hornworms are often attacked by braconid wasp parasitoids.
This hawkmoth (most likely a Violet Gliding Hawkmoth (Ambulyx liturata, Sphingidae)), has been parasitized by an Akanthomyces fungus (probably Akanthomyces pistillariiformis), a Cordyceps anamorph peculiar to moths.
The moth picked up fungal “spores” at some stage which gradually began invading its body to a point where, while it was at rest on this leaf, the moth died. The fungus then totally engulfs and embalms the corpse producing this macabre sight. Such conquests are regularly seen in this climate in smaller moths, but larger victims are almost frightening to look at.
I encountered a similar example around the same time three years ago, also in a hawkmoth (see image below). At the time, I collected that specimen and still have it sealed in a container, unchanged…frozen in time….mummified……
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
No Taxon (Moths)
Family Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths)
GenusPaoniasSpecies excaecata (Blinded Sphinx - Hodges#7824)
Hodges Number 7824
Other Common Names Blind-eyed Sphinx
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes Paonias excaecata (alternate spelling)
Sometimes misspelled “exaecatus”, probably repeating a mistake in Covell’s plate in the first edition (1), corrected in the second (2005) edition
Explanation of Names EXCAECATUS: from Latin excaeco “to blind”, which derives from Latin “caecus” (blind)
BLINDED SPHINX: speculative origin - the small blue spot (or “iris”) on the hindwing has no central black spot (or “pupil”) - see image - and is therefore “blind”; compare the hindwing spot of Smerinthus cerisyi whose large black pupil allows it to “see”
Size Wingspan 55-95 mm
forewing various shades of brown with conspicuously scalloped outer
margin; fringe white, composed of thin arcs in sinuses between scallops;
median area may have purplish tint, and subterminal area may have
greenish tint; hindwing brown in upper half, pink in lower half; large
black spot near inner margin has small central blue spot with no black
spot inside it
Larva: body green or yellowish-green,
heavily granulose, and with dense white speckles; oblique yellow line
extends from base of proleg on A6 to dorsal horn on A8; six oblique
yellow lines from A2-A6; white spiracles with black rim; occasionally
red spots near spiracles and prolegs; horn somewhat arched below,
extending to end of body; head triangular with line of whitened
granulose spots running to vertex
Range all of United States and southern Canada
Habitat open deciduous forests, woodland edges, clearings, shrubby areas, gardens; adults are nocturnal and attracted to light
Season adults fly May-August; most common in June and July in the north and west
larvae present May-November
Food Larvae feed on leaves of a variety of deciduous trees and shrubs, including apple, basswood, birch, cherry, elm, Hardhack (Spiraea douglasii), hawthorn, Hop Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatum), Ocean Spray (Holodiscus discolor), poplar, rose, serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), willow Adults do not feedLife Cycle two or three generations per year in the south, one generation in the north and west; overwinters as a pupa.
A gorgeous Lettered Sphinx (Deidamia inscriptum) at the light last night. It’s been slow the past several nights, because it’s been so darned cold, so it was nice to find the first sphinx moth of the year when I went to close up the light setup.
A truly bizarre and awesome Moth Caterpillar (Oberthueria sp., Endromidae), hangs in “lifeless mode” due to my disturbing its branch to get a shot. Body length almost 12cm (~5 inches) plus tail. And yes, thats a shield or hood (similar to a Hooded Mantis) behind its head.