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Remember the caterpillar on the palo verde tree?

Now we have most parts of the life cycle.

Caterpillar

Pupa

 

And now  a moth!

Turns out to be the Royal Poinciana Moth, Melipotis acontioides, or a close relative. Isn't that a great common name?

It turns out that I had found a similar moth a few weeks before. I didn't try to identify it at the time because I had no idea what it's food plant was.

Knowing the food plant, plus all the stages, makes it easier to figure out an insect's identity.

Arizona naturalists have some more photographs of the same species of moth found in June 1, 2005. I first found our caterpillars May 30, 2018.

Interested in moths? Don't forget National Moth Week events, which are July 21-29, 2018.

A few weeks ago we found some caterpillars on our palo verde tree. The best way to find out what species they are is to raise them to adults.

Toward that end, we kept one in a container with some food.

It is now a pupa.

So amazing how most moth pupae look identical.

Here's the pupa of the bougainvillea caterpiller moth, Asciodes gordialis. Doesn't it look the same?

Back to the palo verde one, you would think it would be easy to take a photograph of something like a pupa because it is just lying there. Fact is, a moth pupa is amazingly active. It can thrash its abdomen and roll around farther and faster than expected.

Even a pupa can be camera shy!

 

We have a small palo verde tree in our back yard that volunteered.

Last week we discovered it was growing caterpillars as well as leaves. Can you spot the caterpillar?

During the day the caterpillars either clutch twigs or hide under things like loose bark. They feed at night.

 

The prolegs (fleshy legs on the abdomen) are reduced in number, giving them an "inchworm" gait.

See how pointy the three true legs are in comparison to the prolegs (left side of photograph).

I haven't identified the species yet, but they might become owlet moths in the subfamily Erebinae.

We'll see what happens in the next few weeks.