UPDATE 12/1/2019 – Finally getting around to this but wanted to give a quick update that the https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org website came through and confirmed this was a Modest Sphinx Moth (link here)
Welcome to the New Year everyone! Hope your holiday celebrations were fun and safe. I did take some time off from the wildlife posts to get through a backlog of Halloween Haunted Trail and running features on my other blog. Those were way overdue and I hate to leave loose ends hanging about as we cross into the new year. One loose end that still needs addressing is my year end blog summary. That takes a lot of time and I wanted to spend that instead getting ready to head back to work tomorrow. 10 days off is wonderful, but in reality, it just means twice as much work to greet you when you make it back to your office. It’s also college bowl day so enjoying some rare football (now that I’m in my second year of boycotting the professional version). It is pretty hard for me to just sit and watch TV – seems like such a waste of time. So, thought I would combine it with putting out my first Wildlife post of 2019.
Hit the jump to learn what my guess is for the huge Moth.
Going with a change of pace to start the year. Birds clearly dominate the feature list at Intrigued, but every once in a while, I like to throw in some different kinds of species. Today’s feature does have wings, but of a different nature. These are bit more delicate than those worn by my feathered friends. This particular specimen was found back in August – guess I better add the year now – 2018. I could go with an in depth story of how I spent days tracking down this particular Moth, suffering all kinds of discomfort as I navigated through dense forests, crawled among soldier ants and fended off bear attacks to bring you this shot. But I do not work at CNN, so sticking with the truth. We found this creature resting on the ground at the entrance to the Rhythm City Casino in Bettendorf IA. I looked at the moth, looked at Linda, back at the Moth, back at Linda, saw her standard eye-roll queue to pull out the camera phone. The key to life is marrying a very understanding person!
The camera phone limits my options when it comes to photographs,. It also means I have to get closer to the subject than I like. For the most part that is for the safety and comfort of the specimen. My intent is to introduce the least amount of stress possible while still getting shots to show my readers. In some cases that discomfort comes from my own stress. Case in point, I will not be putting a camera 5 inches from a Tarantula Hawk ever again (link here). Moths are generally not that dangerous to us, so not a lot of worry with this one. Now the bad news. I can only identify Moths slightly better than that previously discovered painful Wasp. I can definitely identify some of the larger variety of Moths. The Leopard Moth is really easy to figure out (link here). The Luna are also pretty easy to figure out – mainly due to how incredibly big they are. I found one of those while mowing the lot one day – ironically got some camera shots of that Moth too – maybe I’ll go hunt those down and feature them sometime in the future. Beyond that, I am pretty much at a loss. After some quick investigation soon learned there are a LOT of different Moths and they all look alike – well, at least a lot of them are very similar. Search for a “brown Moth” and prepare for a horde of links to come back. As a last ditch effort, tried a few online ID guides that allowed me to specify some key characteristics. That attempt brought it down to a much more manageable gazillion options. How many big Moths can there actually be out there!?! Oh, you can’t really tell from the isolated pictures, but this Moth was on the larger end – finally resorted to adding a little bit of stress to get a reference shot – was lacking a coin I could stealthily slide near it, Without that option, went for the age old standby. Damn good thing I didn’t try this with the Hawk Wasp.
The Moth didn’t react at all to this intrusion. Again, not very educated on these things – for all I know it was sleeping – didn’t see any physical eyes – or .. quite possibly… it could be dead. Eventually narrowed it down to a manageable list of options by adding in a few additional characteristics like region, stripes and the estimate of size based on the trusty finger ruler. My best guess is this is a Sphynx Moth. If someone were to hold my feet to the fire for a more specific answer would probably lean to a Virginia Creeper. If you happen to know your Insectas or have a better guess, please let me know in the comments.
I do not want to waste your time with facts about a species I’m not confident is ID’d correctly so going to call it a post here. Looking forward to another intriguing year! Now to go check my work calendar for tomorrow – ugh.