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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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3 responses

  1. Wonderful moment you have captured, Mary.

    August 30, 2016 at 1:48 pm

  2. Betsy Draper

    Mary, Have chrysalis’ hatched yet? Is it all right to have our field mowed down. I don’t want to destroy them. Thanks,


    September 7, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    • It depends on where you live, but if you’re in the Northeast, to be really safe, you might wait until October to mow. Monarchs have started to emerge, but there are still chrysalises here and there.

      September 7, 2016 at 7:29 pm

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