Northern Apple Sphinx

2018 August 4
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On the morning of June 9, 2018 at Camp Nesbit, Sam spotted this big moth on a windowscreen of one of the cabins.

From the size and shape, we immediately suspected that it was one of the Sphinx Moths.

The small, white mark near the middle of the forewings is a bit unusual in a sphinx moth, and after rummaging around I think that those spots, combined with the particular pattern of black streaks, looks the most like the Northern Apple Sphinx, Sphinx poecila. These moths are kind of variable in color, but they almost always have those white spots, black dashes, and that particular wing and body shape.

This is clearly a night-flying moth, because it really didn’t want to be active during the day. After nudging it off of the screen and onto Sam’s hand, it then pretty much put up with being handed to Rosie, and to Rosie’s friends, for some time. Until, finally, it had enough and started opening up its wings (which incidentally exposed its abdomen)

It didn’t fly off right away, though. Insects have to get their wing muscles up to operating temperature before they can flap with enough speed and strength to take off, and this gets even more critical as the insect gets larger. Particularly when it was kind of a cool morning, maybe 55 F or thereabouts. So the moth shivered its wings for quite a long time to get warmed up enough to fly, which is why the wings are blurry in the next picture.

Then, finally, it flew off to escape. The last I saw of it, it was being pursued across the camp by a group of young girls. I don’t think they caught it again, though.

One Response
  1. August 21, 2018

    Sphinx moths are the best! We rescued one in our house the other day that was the size of a small bat.

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