Glenda Denniston always has her camera ready to snap photos of interesting critters she spots in the Preserve. Here are her latest captures:
The Abbott sphinx moth larva, an odd fellow with brown bands and pale green spots, is crawling toward the left, using six claw like feet behind his rather small head and eight feet fitted with suction cup-like devices. What looks like a rather large eye is a big knob meant to scare any predator. Early instars of this larva are a pale greenish-white, with a horn on the hind end. (An instar is the developmental phase between two periods of molting as a insect larva grows to maturity.) These instars are said to eat Grape and Porcelain berry, but in this sighting it is feasting on Virginia creeper in the 2013 spring planting area of the Friends at Frautschi Point.
The larva of the late instar Milkweed tussock moth or milkweed tiger moth, Euchaetes eagle, was found on a Common milkweed behind main Upper Field Edge planting area. It is common mid- through late-summer and sports chemical defenses to deter bats and other predators, which it acquires from its host plants. While early instars appear slightly 'hairy' and gray and eat the fleshy parts of leaves, leaving behind only skeletal vein remnants, the late instars sport tufts of black, white and orange and sometimes yellow setae. The head capsule is black.
The Hermit sphinx larva, Lintneria eremitus, is finding food on Wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa, at what Glenda calls Cedar Hill in the Frautschi Point area. This larva feeds on the mint family and the adult moths take nectar typically from deep-throated flowers. It is common wherever the larva and moth host plants are found.
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors