Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tersa Sphinx Moth

Today, December 21, 2016, as I was heading out on a slightly chilly morning, I noticed a Tersa Sphinx Moth perched on my metal stair railing, next to my Florida Room, at the front of my house. I stopped to grab my digital camera to snap a few photos.

Tersa Sphinx Moth - Leesburg, Florida, December 21, 2016
Tersa Sphinx Moth - Leesburg, Florida, December 21, 2016
I am a very patient, older gal, who had been waiting about six weeks to actually see this very moth. It never flinched as I snapped away at several photos.

Tersa Sphinx Moth - Leesburg, Florida, December 21, 2016
Tersa Sphinx Moth - Leesburg, Florida, December 21, 2016
Over the past six weeks, I had the privilege to observe the various stages of metamorphosis of this species of moth, from caterpillar to pupa to moth. I am actually waiting to see if a moth emerges from a pupa I have observed for nearly six weeks.

Tersa Sphinx Moth - Leesburg, Florida, December 21, 2016
Tersa Sphinx Moth - Leesburg, Florida, December 21, 2016
It was November 6, 2016 in Leesburg, Florida, that I first learned of the Tersa Sphinx Moth. I had probably seen that moth throughout my Florida gardens previously, but never knew it was the Tersa Sphinx Moth. That is such an interesting name for a moth that seems to have wings like a Stealth aircraft!

Tersa Sphinx Moth Caterpillar - November 6th

On November 6th, I actually spotted a most unique caterpillar in the corner of my carport, near my side entry door. At first look, it appeared to be a possibly dead millipede ... that was, until I touched it and it moved. Wow, what an amazing insect with those false eyes and the look of a black stinger at the top of its tail end.

Tersa Sphinx Moth Caterpillar - Leesburg, Florida, November 6, 2016
Tersa Sphinx Moth Caterpillar - Leesburg, Florida, November 6, 2016
When I first saw this caterpillar, I had no idea that it was already preparing to enter the pupa stage. It was lethargic, making me think something might be wrong with it.

Tersa Sphinx Moth Caterpillar - Leesburg, Florida, November 6, 2016
Tersa Sphinx Moth Caterpillar - Leesburg, Florida, November 6, 2016
Researching the Tersa Sphinx Moth, I learned that a host plant is the Penta. I actually placed that caterpillar out in my front yard, at the base of my periwinkles next to the penta.

Tersa Sphinx Moth Pupa - November 10th

Tersa Sphinx Moth Pupa - Leesburg, Florida, November 10, 2016
Tersa Sphinx Moth Pupa - Leesburg, Florida, November 10, 2016
When I checked back on November 10th to see how the caterpillar was doing, I noticed it had begun to transform into a pupa. That was when I found a plastic jar in which I placed the pupa. I loosely placed the lid over the top of the jar to keep other critters out. I have checked on the status of the pupa daily, in that jar, since November 10th!

Tersa Sphinx Moth Pupa - Leesburg, Florida, November 30, 2016
Tersa Sphinx Moth Pupa - Leesburg, Florida, November 30, 2016
The Tersa Sphinx Moth Pupa on November 30th appeared fairly uniform in width throughout the length of the pupa.

 Tersa Sphinx Moth Pupa - December 21st

Tersa Sphinx Moth Pupa - Leesburg, Florida, December 21, 2016
Tersa Sphinx Moth Pupa - Leesburg, Florida, December 21, 2016
Tersa Sphinx Moth Pupa - Leesburg, Florida, December 21, 2016
Tersa Sphinx Moth Pupa - Leesburg, Florida, December 21, 2016
Tersa Sphinx Moth Pupa - Leesburg, Florida, December 21, 2016
Tersa Sphinx Moth Pupa - Leesburg, Florida, December 21, 2016
It has been over 40 days that I have observed the Tersa Sphinx Moth in its Pupa stage. Judging by the look of the Pupa today, it seems there is a bit of transformation. Notice the long dark stripe that extends from top to bottom on the pupa? I am wondering if per chance the sighting of the Tersa Sphinx Moth this morning, might signal that the new moth is about to emerge from the pupa stage?

Tersa Sphinx Moth - December 22nd

Twenty-four hours later, after the initial sighting of the Tersa Sphinx Moth perched on the stair railing, it is still there! How interesting that the moth looks to have not moved from that spot!

Tersa Sphinx Moth - Leesburg, Florida, December 22, 2016
I just took another look at the Tersa Sphinx Moth as it is perched on the railing. I can see a spot of white cobweb-like substance at its tail end.

Tersa Sphinx Moth - Leesburg, Florida, December 22, 2016
On Monday, December 19th, I pruned to the ground, a pink periwinkle plant that was nearby. That plant actually looked possessed or something as it was totally covered with a white cobweb-like substance.

Tersa Sphinx Moth - Leesburg, Florida, December 22, 2016
Tersa Sphinx Moth - Leesburg, Florida, December 22, 2016
It looked like the entire plant was moldy. Perhaps I shouldn't have pruned the plant just yet as it may have been in use by the Tersa Sphinx Moth? Checking on the pupa, there is no change from the day before. Waiting!

No comments: