A Giant Leopard Came By My House Today

It was a little bit scary around here last week.  Linda came back into the house and informed me there was something worth checking out on the porch.  To her credit, she is usually dead on when it comes to knowing what types of things intrigue me enough to go and take a gander.  This was no exception.  Before you jump to any conclusions, Linda is not out there really looking for fodder for my blog.  The truth is she is out there keeping an eagle eye out for anything that might be slithering around.  It is a relief when she comes back in and calmly tells me to go check out something, otherwise all hell breaks loose and off I go to get the hoe.  Otherwise it’s a quick trip to the kitchen to get the macro mounted camera to capture the moment.  This was one of those times.  Turns out a Leopard had made its way to our humble dwelling.  This was not just any old leopard, this was a GIANT leopard.

Okay, so it wasn’t one of the cats… otherwise that might have been the end of this blog unless I was able to make it back to the AR in time.  Nope, this was actually the Giant Leopard Moth and to the best of my recollection the first time I’ve ever witnessed one around here.  When it comes to moths, these have to rank right up there with the coolest.  As you can tell, they are predominantly snow white with the traditional leopard print dominating their markings.  What turned out to be difficult to capture was the brilliant blue detail in the legs and along their undersides. After taking a number of pictures from its resting spot under our porch, I decided to delicately try to relocate it for some better angles.  I usually hate to mess with insects out of fear of injuring them and I know that even small contact with their delicate wings can lead to loss of flight causing an imminent demise.  In this case I spent 15 minutes slowly bringing a piece of mulch in contact with the legs and worked the stick into place whenever it shifted its legs.  Slowly it made its way onto the stick and I lifted it out to a resting place on top of the stoop.  To the moth’s credit it was pretty docile and really didn’t mind all the hoopla with the camera.  It basically just sat there and twiddled the antennas (is that the right plural?.. might be antennae).   In the new position, I could capture the top markings much better.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of our visitor

I was also able to get a better shot of the pretty blue accents along the sides and face area.  From this picture, the leopard spots appear to be a deeper blue, but they did look black when I was looking at it.

In another first, my go to reference source failed me.  The Wikipedia page on this particular creature is just plain weak and is actually marked for cleanup.  For one thing they indicated that they have open and closed splotches (mine had only open) and have black and white stripes on the their legs.  I guess you can call it a white stripe, but clearly their legs are blue, not black.  The author also indicated they have dark blue abdomens with orange markings.  That did not appear to be the case for my specimen but I might have just missed that – I wasn’t willing to turn it completely over.  Beyond that little bit of descriptions, a blurb about it being nocturnal (obviously not the case here) and a few pictures there wasn’t much meat.  I ended up bumping the fstop up (or down, however you choose to look at it) to broaden my focus area – you can now see the entire moth which shows off pretty amazing symmetry – in fact it is practically perfect.  It kind of reminds me of a Rorschach test. I see rows and rows of zombie heads marching toward two lone defenders armed with assault rifles.. how about you?

Out of disappointment in my preferred reference I did a few more Google searches and located this Hilton Pond site (link here).  It did confirm the abdomen coloring (will verify that myself if I ever see another one) but gave some better details on the life of this moth.  Of note was the fact that as far as they could tell, the adult male doesn’t eat and spends its time simply reproducing.  Before you get too impressed, the adults really do not live that long.  By the way, I did go the extra mile to give you a relative size comparison – the word “giant” is relative – either that or I have one huge finger.  Okay, okay, I guess you can consider it large in comparison to most of the moths we see around here.

Don’t worry, I did not actually touch it and I took pains to put it back exactly where I found it.  If nothing else, it has a great story to tell his mates (umm pillow talk).   Pretty cool don’t you think?  Hope you enjoyed seeing the latest visitor to our country home.

2 thoughts on “A Giant Leopard Came By My House Today”

  1. Very cool! The symmetry in the spots is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like this, even in butterfly conservatories, which usually have luna moths that aren’t a fraction as cool.

    Ron

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  2. Ahhh, the Luna – definitely an interesting moth, but for sheer wow factor I’m sticking with the Leopard. There is also another moth that I unfortunately (as a species) deserves an apology from me (and my hometown friends). We thought they were hornets and being somewhat fearful of all things with stingers we used to kill them violently with tennis racquets or wiffle ball bats (when they were stupid enough to attack us while we were playing Indian Ball). Turns out they are harmless moths – believe it was a Clearwing but I can’t remember for sure.

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