Tuesday, September 10, 2013

White-Lined Sphinx

It's that time of year, it seems... the time when butterflies and moths are reproducing. Remember the tiny egg I showed you last week in this post? Unfortunately, the egg I kept here did not hatch. They should only take 4 days to hatch, and mine had not hatched yet yesterday, which was 6 days after I found it. It was looking discolored and like it was drying up or something, so I threw it out. I haven't heard yet how Courtney's did. Maybe they weren't even monarch eggs.

Sunday afternoon when I was walking through the garden, I came across this guy:

Rather pretty, isn't he? Well, if you like caterpillars and worms, that is. I know at least a couple of you who definitely don't. He's pretty little... only about an inch and a half long. Nothing to fear. ;)

I found him on a purslane weed. Hurray - something that likes to eat purslane, one of my most hated weeds!

I saved him, of course. I was sure Courtney would be interested. I put him in her daddy's "critter cage", which was made for him many years ago by his Uncle Dale (a frequent commenter here).

There's a door on the other end of the cage that drops down when you open the latch. You can see it below. It's kind of hard to see the caterpillar through the screen, though.

Here's a better look:

I didn't know what kind of caterpillar it was, so I did some searching. Wow, are there ever a lot of different kinds of caterpillars in the world! There are many, many of them shown in this gallery, if you're interested or trying to identify something yourself. That's where I found this guy. It turns out he's a White-Lined Sphinx larva. They can be many different colors. I was just lucky that this one was so distinct.

I showed you a sphinx moth one time here, with even a video of it flying. Sphinx moths are often mistaken for hummingbirds.

After I put this caterpillar in the cage, it crawled up onto the screen and has remained there ever since. I don't know if he doesn't like being confined and is just going to die there, or if he's going to make his cocoon/chrysalis. According to this site (which also has a pic of the pupa stage), it only takes about 10 days for them to hatch. We shall see what happens, and of course if I get a moth, I'll show you a photo!

*Update: I wrote this post last night. This morning I noticed that the caterpillar was down on the leaves again, so I got some fresh purslane and replaced the old. Maybe there's hope yet! Then I did a little searching on how they pupate. Oh, dear... sounds like a lot of bother. They need soil to burrow into. See the video I found here. Do I do that, or do I just let him go back to the garden? ("Him"? "Her"? Do caterpillars have genders???)


annie dee said...

I was kinda icked out till I looked at the pseudo-hummingbird photos then I thought, what a cool moth!! Not so sure I would have caught it and kept it in a critter cage though. You are a brave woman!

Grandma G said...

Brave or crazy. ;)

Jessica Jones said...

You'd better get him some dirt. Sounds fun.

Grandma G said...

You convinced me, Jess. Ha! He's in his new home now, munching away like crazy. Photo proof tomorrow (Thurs.)!

LiEr said...

Er. Just as proof of my absolute and ludicrous courage, I'm commenting here. I looked at your photos. Whoa. My stomach is churning. I'm breaking out in hives. My breakfast is coming up in my throat. BUT he/she/it is a really pretty caterpillar. It's true. I can appreciate larval good looks even if they scare the heebie-jeebies outta me to even accidentally glance at one. 1.5" isn't massive, but your close-ups make him look a bit like our Greenybig (he was a good 3'-3.5", not that I took a ruler to him/her/it. Greenybig wasn't quite so striking as yours, though. But here's a funny story: I used to have a pair of socks in exactly the same colors as your caterpillar, except with more pronounced orange and black stripes. I wore them to high school to rebel against the "White socks only" rule. Got ticked off by the discipline master who said they were " a bit loud". I was very offended that he thought they were only "a bit" loud. Hrmph. Ironically, I referred fondly to them as my Caterpillar Socks. I must not have had my full-blown phobia then. Now the thought of wearing caterpillar colors would just about give me a rash and a heart attack.

Hope your caterpillar pupates successfully! Always preferred the winged versions anyway. Less likely to get squished.

P.S. Your photos are very nice! Especially that first photo of the moth in the next post. Beautiful.

Grandma G said...

Way to go, my courageous friend! :) And thank you!