Moth Jets

If you examine a butterfly according to the laws of aerodynamics, it shouldn’t be able to fly. But the butterfly doesn’t know that, so it flies.

~Howard Schultz

I’m not sure anyone could use that quote when describing the sphinx moths. They certainly look like they were made to fly and I have always been intrigued by their streamlined shapes. Last year, I managed to photograph the green beauty known as a Pandorus Sphinx, Eumorpha pandorus. It had come to a light along our breezeway at work.

Pandorus sphinx moth

Pandorus Sphinx Moth (click photos to enlarge)

The unique wing shape, colors, and pattern are very eye-catching and make this large moth look as though someone designed it for both fashion and night-time flight.

Last week we had a chance encounter (while grilling after dark) with another of the fighter jets of the moth world. This time it was the stunning Tersa Sphinx, Xylophanes tersa. The genus name combines the Greek words xylon meaning “wood” and phanes meaning “to appear” or “appear to be.” Indeed, the wings and body of this moth look like exquisite wood veneer.

Tersa sphinx

Tersa Sphinx

The larvae feed on weeds in your yard such as Madder, Poor Joe, and Virginia Buttonweed. I found one last year in our yard on Diodia teres (Poor Joe) and the caterpillar is also quite appealing to the eye.

Tersa sphinx larva

Tersa Sphinx caterpillar

I still have a few of these moth jets I want to see (the Abbott’s, Virginia Creeper, Hydrangea, and Azalea Sphinx’s to name a few), so I’ll keep looking around lights and setting out my moth sheets every summer. I suppose my bucket list actually is a bit different than most…

4 thoughts on “Moth Jets

  1. Hi, is this the email I should use to contact you about one of your photographs? Gorgeous page, by the way! Thank you, Shelly Vaughan

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