Tag Archives: waved sphinx moth (Ceratomia undulosa)

The little things

One need not look far and wide to see natural beauty, for nature hides her splendor everywhere, even in the little things.

A robber fly (Laphria saffrana) perched on an old pipe (IMG_1076)

What looks like a bee represents mimetic adaptation, a robber fly (Laphria saffrana) wearing the apparel of a stinger to protect itself from predators, all the while hunting with the expert skill of a true killer.

A question mark (Polygonia interrogationis) licking minerals from the ground (IMG_0933)

A butterfly alighting within a sandy clearing stops to partake of minerals on the earth’s surface, the question mark (Polygonia interrogationis) appearing to most as a resting insect when in fact it hungrily consumes what it needs.

A blue mud wasp (a.k.a. blue mud-dauber; Chalybion californicum) perched in a dark windowsill (IMG_0788)

Upon a cloudy windowsill a blue mud wasp (a.k.a. blue mud-dauber; Chalybion californicum) lingers, waiting for sunlit warmth that will never come, still as petrified wood hoping no danger notices its lethargic morning.

A common buckeye (Junonia coenia) resting on the ground (IMG_0951)

Wings spread to soak up sunny warmth, a common buckeye (Junonia coenia) is all but invisible from the side.  At least until you stop to look.

Close-up of a regal jumper (a.k.a. regal jumping spider; Phidippus regius) holding its moth prey (IMG_1417)

A male regal jumper (a.k.a. regal jumping spider; Phidippus regius) holds fast to its moth breakfast, even in the face of photographic invasion, and both circle the gate hidden from prying eyes… at least prying eyes that fail to see.

Close-up of a Waved sphinx moth (Ceratomia undulosa) resting on a pole (IMG_0401)

In shadows deep to avoid daytime heat, a waved sphinx moth (Ceratomia undulosa) lingers in rest, waiting for the dark of night when it can pursue its only adult desire: mating.

No, one need not look far and wide to see natural beauty, for natural beauty can be found even in the little things.

Moths galore

Yesterday’s visit to East Texas provided yet more proof of the diversity of insect life thriving in the area.  No greater examples can be found when arriving in the morning than moths spent from their night frolicking and forced to rest through the morning hours.

A female giant leopard moth (a.k.a. eyed tiger moth or great leopard moth; Hypercompe scribonia) (213_1389)

Its black spots iridescent in the bright morning sun, this female giant leopard moth (a.k.a. eyed tiger moth or great leopard moth; Hypercompe scribonia) held tightly to the central light pole even while slipping from the world after having given her all to produce another generation of her kind.  In her stillness and beauty I lost myself for a few moments.  I knew I was witnessing her final hours, yet her exquisite display held me tightly and kept me near.

As I looked at her, I remembered her family in Dallas who just last month visited me in childhood form and who early last year visited me in adulthood.

A female giant leopard moth (a.k.a. eyed tiger moth or great leopard moth; Hypercompe scribonia) (214_1450)

Wingtips tattered and worn to transparency, their black and white scales lost to time, I visited her several hours after the first photo only to find her still clinging to life just as she was clinging to the light post.  Shadow embraced her and shielded her from the afternoon’s heat.  I knew it wouldn’t be long before it embraced her forever.

Somewhere I did not find lay her hopes for her species.  Eggs never to be found would produce another brood that would start as red-ringed black caterpillars who would grow to enormous proportions, and those spectacular monsters would eventually cocoon so as to give rise to more winged leopards.

I eventually left her to her fate.

A waved sphinx moth (Ceratomia undulosa) (214_1415)

Much higher on the same pole rested another female moth, one undoubtedly expiring just like the first.  Although difficult to photograph due to her position near the top of her perch, I did grab a quick photo of this waved sphinx moth (Ceratomia undulosa).  I suspected she too had spent the night engaging in a desperate attempt to procreate.

Not once did she move from her spot.  Not once. . .

Too high up to photograph easily, we moved one of the farm trucks against the light pole so I could get higher for a photograph or two.  The perch still left me far below her.  Nevertheless, I was able to at least get that one respectable image.

[Note: Despite the similarities, this waved sphinx moth is not to be confused with the plebeian sphinx moth (Paratrea plebeja) I photographed earlier this year.  And kudos to anyone who can identify what makes one different from the other.  Both are enormous so size doesn’t count.]

And that leaves us finally with the most exceptional discovery of the day.

A female tersa sphinx moth (Xylophanes tersa) (214_1414)

Some distance above the waved sphinx moth rested a creature I heretofore had never seen in person.  Its presence was a phenomenal gift.  While not rare, I had never expected to see it in such relatively close quarters.

So near the top of the light post as to be in the clouds, I stared up from the bed of the truck at this female tersa sphinx moth (Xylophanes tersa).  It regrettably was in the sky and impossible for me to photograph from any other angle.  We would have been forced to stack ladders atop the truck upon which I stood if there was to be any hope of capturing better images.

A female tersa sphinx moth (Xylophanes tersa) (214_1417)

Nevertheless, everyone fell victim to the intrigue created by the soft warmth and undeniable uniqueness of this large insect.  With wings held back in singular form, its tapered body captivated all of us.  I only wish I had been able to get closer.

A female tersa sphinx moth (Xylophanes tersa) (214_1418)