Friday, May 10, 2013

An Abbott's Sphinx, a Grapevine Epimenis and a Luna Moth

You know it's going to be a good day when there's a cool moth you've never seen before hanging out on the wall outside your door. Like many moths the profile and cryptic coloration of the Abbott's Sphinx (Sphecodina abbottii) make it resemble a piece of bark.

A closer look reveals that the drab brown tones are mixed with subtly beautiful patterns and colors.

Not the sharpest of images, but one is seldom lucky enough to capture an Abbott's Sphinx (or any other insect, for that matter) in flight using a small point-and-shoot camera.

Easily mistaken for a butterfly, the Grapevine Epimenis (Psychomorpha epimenis) is one of our day flying moth species. Given its diurnal habits and bold colors this little moth certainly isn't trying to conceal its presence. Are the colors possibly aposematic? Here are a few more photos of a Grapevine Epimenis encountered last summer ... A Flutter of Butterflies .

Yes, this is a moth. Over 30 cm in length, the cocoon was mixed in the litter near the base of a tree, the dead leaves incorporated into its thin papery weave making it virtually invisible in the debris. The pupa inside is quite active and can be felt moving about within the cocoon if it's handled. Based on the foregoing criteria – size, overwintering amidst the forest floor trash, and active pupa – I'm guessing and hoping that this is a Luna Moth and with a little luck will be able to witness and photograph the emergence of the adult.