My Digital Photography of the
5-spotted Hawk Moth,
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Larva (Tomato Hornworm) on August 26, 2010
This is only the second hornworm I've ever seen in person. Brian found this one outside on one of the tomato plants. I found the previous one at my old house, but I didn't have a digital camera at that point and only got a few pictures of the final moth. It was about three inches long.
Pupa on September 5, 2010
My hornworm stopped eating its tomato leaves and started looking really agitated. It wouldn't stop walking around its cage (before it seemed nice and content eating its tomato leaves). I determined that it needed some soil to pupate. I put some loose potting soil in a pet cage so it was about 4 inches deep. The hornworm dug holes all over the place until it finally settled at the bottom and became a pupa. I did dig it up because I wanted to photograph it. I tried to bury it again loosely so it could still breathe. It is going to overwinter in my attached garage this time. Last time, I kept my pupa in the refrigerator and I think it was too dry and that is why my hawk moth's wings were messed up. I hope this one comes out all right.
Moth on June 14, 2011
I successfully kept the pupa in my garage in a container of soil, buried slightly beneath the surface. In April, I started adding some water to the soil to simulate spring rains. At the end of May, I brought the container inside the house. On June 14, 2011, I added a rather large helping of water. The previous night, the pupa appeared to be darker in color, almost black, rather than reddish. About 1/2 hour later, the moth had emerged and was drying itself on the sticks I provided (a very important item---otherwise the moth can't properly hang and dry its wings, which is what I think happened to my first hawk moth. This moth's wings dried perfectly. It is a female (you can tell because of her narrow antennae---a male would need wide antennae to capture pheromones). You can see her releasing a milky substance of pheromones in the first two photos in the second row. It was evening when she emerged, which was perfect, because she is a nocturnal moth, so I released her onto the porch. She stayed there all evening and was even still up in the corner the following morning and early afternoon. Then she was gone later that afternoon. I hope she found a mate.
My First Hawk Moth
On August 9, 2003, I found a huge, green hornworm caterpillar walking across my driveway. I'd always wanted to find one of these. It was about 4-5 inches long---the largest caterpillar I've ever found. Unfortunately, I didn't get my digital camera until a few days later. I filled a container with a variety of leaves from everything in my yard. The next morning, it had already turned into a pupa! I thought it was rather late in the season and I was wondering when this creature was planning on emerging as a moth. I read about them in one of my wildlife encyclopedias and discovered that the pupa needed to overwinter and would emerge the following spring. I put the pupa in a smaller, covered container in some soil, put it in my refrigerator, and kept it moist throughout the winter. In early May, I took it out and kept it at room temperature. On May 21st, I came home from work and the moth had emerged! He was beautifully soft and fuzzy. However, his wings were folded under and he wasn't able to fly. I took some pictures of him on my woodburned door and let him go in the front flower bed. Amazingly, a week later, my boyfriend Brian found him on the sidewalk path to my house, almost dead.
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