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Archive for August 30, 2016

Gallium Moth Larvae Burrowing

8-26-16 gallium sphinx larva 082Some of the largest moths in the world belong to the hawk, or sphinx moth family. They typically have long narrow wings and thick bodies. Hawk moths are fast flyers and often highly aerobatic. Many species, including the hummingbird moths, can hover in place, and some can even fly backwards. Mostly nocturnal fliers, hawk moths are exceptionally good at finding sweet-smelling flowers after dark.

As larvae, most hawk moths have a “horn” at the end of their body. One of the most familiar hawk moth caterpillars is the Tobacco Hornworm, found on tomato plants. Most species produce several generations a summer, pupating underground and emerging after two or three weeks. One exception is the Gallium Sphinx Moth, pictured, which usually has only one generation a year. In this photograph it is working its way underground, where it will overwinter as a pupa inside a loose cocoon in a shallow burrow, emerging as an adult moth next spring.

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