Saturday, November 3, 2007

Monster Caterpillar...

As I was watering our potted patio plants this morning, I noticed that our potato tree (Solanum paraguayensis) had lost quite a few leaves. I looked a little closer, and spotted this enormous green caterpillar on its sparse branches. It was still early, just after sunrise, and cold – so the caterpillar was motionless. All stretched out, it would be about 3 inches (8 cm) long; about the size of one of my fingers.

With a little research on the web, I'm pretty sure that this is the caterpillar of some Sphinx moth (there are many species). I grabbed this photos quickly, as I suspected that when it warmed up it would start moving about.

And that's exactly what it did – by the time I got these photos loaded into my computer, the temperature had risen substantially, and the caterpillar had turned into an amazing eating machine. I watched it methodically strip one small branch of my poor potato tree in about 60 seconds. I don't think anything would have been left of my potato tree after a few hours of work by this guy!

So I picked it up and moved it over to the 6' post that holds our bird feeders up, and hoped it would feed a family of birds for a few days. A couple hours later, it was still there, wandering about looking for something green to masticate. A couple of sparrows were perched nearby, checking it out – so I suspect it's life expectancy is quite low…

1 comment:

  1. Good job you saved your potato tree because they are evil moths. Only good for bird feed either now or later!