Tuesday, August 28, 2007

happiness is...

...a moth nursery.

Yesterday I was sitting on the porch waiting for a ride, and I swear I could hear chewing. I looked to the left, and saw this beautiful guy on the moonflower vine twisted around our front porch railing:


I ran inside to get the camera. And then I saw this one:


And this one:


And this one:


And then I noticed all their poop all over the porch:


I don't know exactly which kind, but I'm pretty sure these are all the babies of a sphinx moth. I think these are three different phases of the same caterpillar (Bugheart, help me out here....). Their mama, who I *think* is a Carolina Sphinx moth (a.k.a. Tobacco hornworm), was hanging out on the front door last night. In case you don't know, the sphinx moth is a big giant moth that makes beautiful green caterpillars who strip your tomato plants, moonflowers and other things absolutely bare, and then they go on to the tomatoes. HWWLLB is out there right now trying to move some of them into a big bush in the front yard that we don't like. But I think they're too smart for him (and I'm secretly cheering them on).

I love a sphinx moth. HWWLLB calls them "flying shrimp." They are about the size of a jumbo shrimp, actually. Some are scary looking, and some are quite beautiful. I think the Carolina Sphinx fits into the beautiful category, myself. I think I am officially declaring the Tobacco hornworm / Carolina Sphinx moth larvae to be the new Hot Critter.

...happiness is also a long bike ride.

Before the moth nursery discovery, I was feeling really bad. Bad mood, sad, grouchy, just miserable. So Sis and I decided to take a long bike ride. We rode about 15 miles, I think, out to Umstead State Park, a big loop inside the park, and then back again.

these are our bikes at the park entrance - just to prove we were there.

It's amazing how some vigorous exercise can make you feel better, especially when it comes with a little change of scenery. Riding around the city, you see some interesting things, but mostly you're just dodging cars.

But once you get to the beltline crossing, (which you do over an amazing bridge above the highway), you're in the park system, in this case the woods around the Art Museum. You get to ride through the Art Museum park, full of wonderful statues, then out on the road to Umstead, which is the only road I've ever seen in Raleigh with bike lanes.

We passed horses with babies, long-horned steer, and a pond full of painted turtles. One of the turtles came up to the bike path for some sun. As we descended into the shade of the park, the temperature seemed to drop and drop, and it was like we were entering another land.

By the time we got home, I was pooped, but smiling. There is nothing like a long bike ride to work out whatever funk has a hold of me.

And then there was all that caterpillar poop waiting for me on the porch. A perfect Monday.


  1. what a great discovery! i've never seen a caterpillar like that... i love the echo of leaf-veins along its... back? dorsum? top? whatever the correct term would be...

  2. Why is it that I can't get over my 'heebie jeebie' reaction to those things (in particular) You wax so poetic about them. Me? I just get sick to my stomach. Surely, something is wrong with me...

  3. OK, so I think they are kinda ugly.
    HOWEVER - those pictures make them look snuggly! (I rhymed).

  4. this post made me so happy. i am missing my bike a lot so i am going to have to live vicariously through you for awhile... (the alleycat sounded fantastic too). it is such a good cure for stress and grumpiness. xo

  5. i agree. there is nothing like some outdoor time to make you feel better. i think the caterpillars are cute but keep them away from the tomatoes!! xo

  6. the bike ride sounds awesome, but the mole FREAKED ME OUT! eeww! the moles have made my yard a danger zone... never walk in my yard in high heels, ok, i never walk in high heel, but you could really turn an ankle out there thanks to the lil' moles. i love caterpillars, and love to hear my son talk about them and say "chysthalith"... hee hee hee!

  7. Are these the ones that resemble hummingbirds? I have a flower in bloom right now that the moths absolutely adore - I was wondering where the heck they were! I guess they're still caterpillars.

    P.S. - This plant spreads vigorously, and if you want some of mine they normally transplant pretty well. Although with the drought and the water restrictions it might be harder. It's a hedychium coronarium. Beautiful flowers and wonderful fragrance.

  8. i love the stories of your moth nursery!

    and wish i had a bike so i could join you! i went walking in duke forest on the weekend and that was nice. maybe we could walk at umstead park this fall.

    my scarf is coming along. somehow i added another stitch somewhere, so it is all wobbly looking, but i am still enjoying the process.

    have a good short week!

  9. it's not a tabacco
    i have to check
    but it's one of the
    sphinx moths...
    i think because
    it's on moonflowers...
    i'll check.
    i just got
    a similar one
    from willow
    with a blue horn!
    more soon...


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