Gift #48: Sphinx moth

The morning after I returned from Denver, there was a special gift waiting on the doorstep. 

Walnut sphinx on back door

This beautiful creature was resting on the back step.  At first I thought it was some dried leaves, but upon closer inspection, I realized dried leaves do not typically have antenna.  Well, how lovely to have an unexpected visit!  Out came the butterfly/moth field guide so I could know her by name.  Turns out, she is a sphinx moth, a walnut sphinx to be exact (if my ID is correct).  Officially, she is Miss Amorpha juglandis and her kind are commonly found throughout the eastern US.  The caterpillars host on walnut, beech, and hickory trees,  and there are several walnut trees behind the house.  The adults don’t feed at all, indicative of their fleeting time with us.  I was fortunate to spend some time with her – she stayed all day near the steps and then flew off that evening.  In their caterpillar form, they are hornworms.  I had never seen hornworms until I moved here and strange, alien worms were all on my tomato plants that summer.  Whoa!  I couldn’t bring myself to squash them – they were so big and squishy, so I would pull them off the plants with tongs and fling them into the forest.  Since then, I discovered that they are the beautiful sphinx moths upon metamorphosis and now I am conflicted about how to handle the larvae.  At this point, I’m at a “live and let live” attitude – at least until lots of tomato leaves start disappearing 🙂 They don’t tend to cause significant damage.  And having beautiful sphinx moths around is worth a few missing leaves. 

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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