moths

You never know what you might discover by looking at a plant. For example, while I was waiting for someone I looked at a shrub in front of a store. I saw signs of caterpillars, so I looked closer.

This leaf was rolled up. It looked suspicious. I decided to take a look inside.

There was a small green caterpillar.

It turns out it wasn't the small green caterpillar I was expecting. The one I was expecting has a black head capsule. This one has a light-colored head capsule.

That warrants keeping an eye on it to see what it turns into. I put some leaves into a container with some moist paper towel.

Within a few days the caterpillar more than doubled in size. Its exoskeleton is so clear, you can see what it has been eating.

Let's look closer.

Can you see the white lines that look like tree branches? Those are the tubes that carry air (oxygen) into the caterpillar's body.

The tubes are called trachea and they originate at the round openings in the caterpillar's sides called spiracles. We usually can't see the trachea because the exoskeletons of most insects contain pigments that block our view.

This see-through caterpillar probably turns into a pyralid moth. With some luck, we'll find out what kind in the next few weeks.

This week a friend of mine asked me if I'd like some silkworms. She knew I was an experienced silkworm mom and she had received way too many from her order in the mail.

So, now we have tiny silkworm caterpillars to feed.

They are so adorable, how could I say no?

(See our previous posts about the silkworm life cycle and the history of silkworms.)

While picking leaves in the yard this morning for the silkworms, I found this giant swallowtail butterfly.

It's pretty bedraggled. What do you think happened to it?

 

Every morning when I stumble out to pick up the newspaper, I like to take a moment to look around at what is happening in the yard. Usually it is still peaceful. Only the birds are awake.

This morning something was zooming around the clumps of desert marigolds. It looked like a small hummingbird, and it flew fast and strong like a bird. Except it wasn't.

Here's one from an older slide I had scanned.

The white-lined sphinx moths have emerged!

White-lined sphinx moths are unusual for moths because they can be seen flying during the day, particularly in the early morning. Aren't they beautiful?

Have you seen any insects this week?