Skip to content

2

The Datura had a lovely flower this morning.

Sometimes called moonflowers, they open at night and close by mid-morning.

Hum, something seems to have been chewing on the leaves.

A few ants were running around on the top of the leaves, but I don't think they are the culprits.

It's a young hornworm caterpillar.


You can tell it is young because of the relative length of the "horn."

Yesterday we looked at a children's book about cute animals. So, are young hornworms cute or not?

1

Just when we thought we were done with moths, we found an orange, black, and white beauty feeding on a Queen Anne's lace flower in western New York. It almost looks as lacy as the flower.


With the striking coloration, it didn't take long to figure out it is an ailanthus webworm moth, Atteva aurea.

These moths were thought to be native to Florida, where they feed on paradise trees, Simarouba glauca and S. amara. The introduced Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) can also serve as a host plant. When the Tree of Heaven began to spread throughout the U.S., the ailanthus webworm did, too.

The caterpillars are called webworms because of the silk they produce while feeding. You can see them in action in this video.

Many of the caterpillars in the ermine moth family (Yponomeutidae) build webbed nests like this.

It turns out these little moths are ideal models, probably because their orange and black colors are a warning pattern. The one in the photo was not fazed by my attention, probably because not much tries to eat them. What a cool little moth.

Have you discovered any interesting moths this week?

Is it a bird? Is it a bee? No, it's a.... moth!

This moth has many names. Because its fuzzy amber yellow and black body resembles a bumble bee, it is called a bee moth, bumblebee moth, or bee hawk moth. Unlike other moths, you can see through its wings, so sometimes they are called clearwing moths. Finally, because they are active during the day, because of their size, and because they hover around flowers sipping nectar, members of their family are also called hummingbird moths.

As is usual for the Family Sphingidae, bee moth larvae (caterpillars) have a pointy "horn" or spike at the end of their abdomens and are called hornworms.

This short video shows a bee moth caterpillar feeding. Can you see its brownish thorn-like horn?

The caterpillars eat various shrubs, such as snowberry, or some small trees like cherry trees.

Once mature, larvae drop to the ground to pupate in the leaf litter before transforming into an adult moth.

The adults feed on nectar from flowers. They seem to be particularly attracted to bee balm (Monarda).


Aren't moths amazing?

And don't forget, it's National Moth Week.

Have you ever seen a bee moth? What did you think it was?