Friday, July 8, 2011


Moths – Our shower house has three outdoor lights that stay on all night. As the weather has warmed, we have found an interesting variety of moths under the lights on some mornings. While most moths are tough to identify, these four large moths have enough “field marks” to make identification possible. What most folks don’t realize about these large moths is that they spend very little of their lives in this adult (flying) form. Most of their life is spent as a growing caterpillar (larva), or overwintering in a cocoon or underground (pupa). With these four species, it is thought that the adults do not feed at all. During their rather short time on this earth they seek a mate and mate, the female lays eggs on the appropriate larval food plant, and the adults die. This occurs over a period of one week or less. What a life, eh??

Sphinx Moths – This is a family of large moths known for their rapid, sustained flying ability. They are among the fastest flying insects, with some capable of sustaining speeds of 30 mph. Their caterpillars are large, and most have an obvious “horn” at their posterior (back) end, earning them the name Hornworms. Some are serious agricultural pests, among these the Tomato Hornworm and the Tobacco Hornworm.

This Waved Sphinx (Ceratomia undulosa) is one of the most common sphinx moths, and their caterpillars feed primarily on Ash trees.

Waved Sphinx

This Modest Sphinx (Pachysphinx modesta) is also known as the Big Poplar Sphinx, after one of the caterpillar’s preferred food plants. The caterpillars feed on Poplar, Aspen and Willow trees.

Modest Sphinx

Giant Silkworm Moths – This family contains many of the largest and most spectacular moths, and represents some of the largest insects in existence. While their caterpillars do create a large silk cocoon for pupation, these moths are only casually related to the silkworms used commercially for silk production.

The Luna Moth (Actias luna) is known for its green color and the long curved tails on the hindwings. Caterpillars feed on a variety of trees including White Birch which is common here in the park.

Luna Moth

We discovered these Promethea Moths (Callosamia promethea) mating one morning on the wall of the showerhouse. The male is dark brown, while the female is redder. You may also notice that the abdomen of the female is much larger than the males, since she is carrying eggs.

Promethea Moths

Here is a picture of the lonely male the next morning.

Promethea Moth


1 comment:

  1. Ew. Moths. Still not my favorite. Remember when Pam had an auto accident because there was a moth in her car?