Getting Steve on the road in the morning is always challenging because we discover some new bloom or invertebrate or bird or berries to pick (you get the idea) on the way to the car. A morning not too long ago, we finally made it to the car and then look who we found:
An incredibly beautiful Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth (Darapsa myron).
I gently manuevered the moth onto my fingers so I could put it on a tree away from the car and while walking to a suitable place we came across a spiny caterpillar (not yet identified) right in the path. You can see why it's hard for us to get things done around here....there is too much to see!
When we first found this moth I thought it was the Pandorus Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha pandorus) because the adults have a similar shape and the same sort of greenish coloration. Checking our Peterson Field Guide to Moths I realized the coloration wasn't correct and was excited because even though the Virigina Creeper Sphinx Moth is common, this was our first sighting! The initial thought of the Pandorus Sphinx though made me want to share our August 2005 sighting at Loon Lake Nature Preserve in Indiana of the wandering caterpillar of this species:
Both of these sphinx caterpillars eat Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and Grape (Vitis sp.) in our area. The caterpillar in the photo is wandering on a large grape vine. We have lots of both plants growing naturally and are so glad to so easily provide food for these beautiful and fascinating invertebrates. Both vines also feed birds and Virginia Creeper sports some of the best fall coloration so it's truly a win win!