One reason to keep a photo journal of insects like this is so you can record what you find the insects feeding on.
In the past we had found the caterpillars of the rustic sphinx moth, Manduca rustica, eating leaves high in our desert willow tree.
This week, however, we found a caterpillar munching on our cats-claw vine.
My son suggested that because both plants have tubular flowers, long seed pods and winged seeds, that perhaps the plants are related. I looked it up, and it turns out that both desert willow and cats-claw vine belong to the family Bignoniaceae. They are related!
From now on we'll keep an eye out for rustic sphinx caterpillars on both plants.
Our mystery seeds from last week were from a cat's claw vine with the awesome scientific name, Macfadyena unguis-cati.
Cat's claw vines are commonly seen growing on houses and walls throughout the desert Southwest. The plants are able to tolerate the high heat of these exposed locations.
The vines are called cat's claw because of the their distinctive three-segmented tendrils that will tenaciously latch onto a surface. The ends of the tendrils are curved, like a cat's claw.
Many people grow these plants for their bright yellow, tubular flowers. (I will add a photograph later, as the day after I decided to feature this plant last week all the flowers dropped off).
The flowers develop into long brown beans that are filled with these winged seeds.
The plants will grow from seeds, as well as cuttings. They also form a tuber under ground.
Once you plant them, cat's claw vines can be very difficult to get rid of. In Florida they are on the invasive weed list.
Video with information about ID
Do cat's claw vines grow where you live?