Sunday, March 17, 2013

Teach Me Something New

Every day in the piney woods is exciting. You never know what interesting people, places, things and critters you will encounter. Now that it is spring, all I have to do is step outside to enjoy another marvel of nature. Nature is always there – morning, noon and night. When I see something new, I must stop, watch and identify.

‘Come forth into the light of things. Let nature be your teacher.’ 
William Wordsworth

Last night as I was reading, strange little sounds were coming from the screen on my open window. Going outside with the flashlight, I saw a unique moth. Now I love nature - a lot. But that doesn’t mean I was going to stand in the cold with a flashlight, an iPhone app and a moth ID book to try to find out who this little guy was. So, I was hoping it would still be here in the morning and sure enough, it was and several friends had joined it on the screen. After many hours of trying to pin down the species of moth, I turned to my friend, Sonnia, who knows almost all things nature for the ID. And, she came through!


Lettered Sphinx Moth
Courtesy of the Bug Guy
So what we have here is the Lettered Sphinx moth, Deidamia inscriptum. Having the word sphinx in the name, you will recognize other members of its family – the Hummingbird and Clearwing moths. The Lettered belongs to the Sphingidae family of moths (Lepidoptera) which includes about 1,450 species. You will know their caterpillar as the hornworm.  The Lettered is one of the earliest sphinx moths to emerge in the spring. That is what confused my ID. I mean – what moth is out when evening temps are still in the upper 30’s?

Black/white spot
Looking at the outer margin of the wing you see that it is deeply scalloped. The top is light brown with dark brown markings and there is a small black and white spot near the tip. The top of the hindwing is orange-brown with a dark brown outer margin. Males rest with their abdomen strongly curved upward. Show off! 

Pheromone plume
Females lay translucent green eggs on the leaves of host plants grape (Vitas), Peppervine (Ampelopsis arborea), and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus). Also, the females call at night and the males fly into the wind to pick up and track the pheromone plume. Double show off!

So gentle readers let Nature be your teacher. Stop, look, listen! Find a good source of identification books, apps or internet sites. Or, better yet, find great go-to friends like Sonnia and Cecil. Memorize! Become a life-long learner! We can never learn all that Nature has to teach us but we can always learn something new.

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  1. Ann,
    I LOVE your blog. Wish I could write like you!

  2. Ann...
    I LOVE your blog. Wish I could write like you! Vicki

  3. next time I see one, will take a picture for you to indentify.

  4. Nice into to Spring, Ann.
    But you just had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find that photo of you and me at Sonnia's.
    But that was a fun trip, and that impromptu pose of the two of us really cracked me up.

  5. Darlene McEnturffMarch 18, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    Always enjoy reading your blog. It's interesting, informative, and humorous. Love Holly Lake Ranch!

  6. Ann, I love your blog and gardening ways! We are so lucky to live here.

  7. Love your blog. Always look forward to a new one..

  8. LOVE the blog, Ann. You share such good and accurate information!! Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge! Lisa L.

  9. Ann, I have been enjoying your blog for a short time now and look forward to many more of your posts!

  10. I have seen several of these moths at my place lately. But I learned so much about them from you! Interesting little things!

  11. Ann, your blog is lovely. Thanks so much for introducing me to a moth I've never considered. Isn't nature grand?

    1. Yes, Dee it is. Always something new . . .every day it seems. Hope things are blossoming in Oklahoma. Are the redbuds blooming?

  12. Ann, I must have some of these moths, since I have lots of smilax and some peppervine. Hope to see you and others at Bart and Woodys Group Show this Thursday 6:00 pm at Jarvis College. Like you, they help us to see the beauty of native habitats and plants.

  13. Super! How awesome that you have the opportunity to do something that you so enjoy and are so good at -- nature itself and writing about it!