Monday, September 23, 2013

Adventures With Ethan, Cheryl, and the White Lined Sphinx Moth

I have been seeing daytime moths for the last several weeks, but could not get a good look at them.  Other than the fact that I know they are moths, (They fly like hummingbirds and sip nectar like hummers,  But the fly ever so different.  I used to watch them for hours at my college.)
Anyway, I have been thinking that they might be the White Lined Sphinx Moth, but after finding the Tomato Horn Worm on our walk,  I was convinced that I had been seeing the Five Spotted Hawk Moth.  Both fly during the day and sip nectar.  And with all of the tomato vines around here, I though it was the obvious choice.

But then today Cheryl finds another large green worm crawling out of the soybean fields.  It has a horn, is large, green, and has spots along its back.  I note that I think this one is different from the Tomato Horn Worm.  Luckily, I pick it up and carry it the three miles along our walk and bring him home.  He was quite the little passenger!

We released him in the tomato plants, because, well...there are way too many vines around here.   With the two worms side by side, it was easy to see the difference!    We had managed to find the larvae of the White Lined Sphinx Moth. 

Tomato Hornworm,  Five-Spotted Hawk Moth  NOT White-lined Sphinx Moth larvae

Now if you are not a crazy Lepidopterist ( Moth and butterfly enthusiast), You may be asking," What is a White Lined Sphinx Moth?"  Well,  think about one of the cutest, prettiest moths that flies during the day and looks like a hummingbird while drinking nectar.  They Look like hummingbirds, but are NOT the hummingbird moth...( which looks like a bumble bee)   Confused?   You should be! Unless you are a crazy fanatic  who stays up late at night blogging about such things.  Well,  here are some pictures:

The good news is that the larvae feeds off of weeds and NOT soybeans or corn.  So rest assured farmers, that they are not a pest. ( I happen to think that Tomato Horn Worms are might not be as bad as some people think. Then again, I'm being overrun by tomatoes at the moment! )    In fact, they MAY be beneficial to farmers with pollination and weed control.   But getting insects to eat the right weed at the right time is usually impossible.  Insects just seem to have a mind of their own.  If we could some how tap into that simple programing like Mother Nature, we could possibly do away with insecticide and herbicides....but that may be asking for too much. 

Anyway,  another adventure with Ethan and Cheryl!  Finding another hidden world here in Wellman Iowa. 

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