Monday, 11 September 2017

A Hummingbird Hawk Moth Caterpillar (Possibly!)

I found this caterpillar on our privet hedge, Friday (8th September):

I tried looking up what he was, from last weeks experience I could tell he was some kind of hawk moth, but which one? He didn't have any real stand out features except his spots and a faint stripe down his back joining at his tail. All the photos I saw online had features that were a lot more distinct. So my conclusion is that he is a Hummingbird Hawk Moth. (Which would make sense as we had 2 resident on our lavender all summer!) What still doesn't make sense is that it was eating the privet hedge, but looks nothing like a Privet Hawk Moth. I don't know!!!

A naf photo but the only one showing the stripe
So, I found out what they need to pupate and decided I would keep him just to satisfy my curiosity. And just in time too as Sunday morning he had stopped eating and looked quite dramatically different:

Looks more like a puppy dog!?!
He stayed in this position for quite a while getting darker and darker:

When he finally moved he started flicking about and staying in this position. It looked like it was definitely time to pupate:

I found a clear pot and put some earth in the bottom with some dried leaves on top as I wasn't exactly sure what he would prefer. This burying yourself to pupate is all new to me! Then some privet as a climbing frame:

It wasn't long before he was in the pot rummaging around for good spot. It was late afternoon on Sunday (10th September) when he finally disappeared. Now I have placed netting over the top of the pot and placed it in a cool place. I guess he will overwinter and I will have to wait until the weather warms up next year to see what he really is!

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Lime Hawk-Moth Caterpillar

I was just about to go inside the house after sitting in the garden, so put down my glass and kindle on an otherwise empty table next to the side wall of the house. I turned away and went to pick up Henry dog’s toy. Half way down the garden I heard a thud so turned back to see what the Henry dog was getting up to, but it wasn’t him he was fast asleep. I could see from a distance that the table had something else on it now, a grey blob, weird!! On closer inspection this “grey blob” was a caterpillar, as big as my little finger with a blue spike and a yellow backside.

How bizarre! I had no idea how on earth he had fallen on the table, so far away from any trees or plants. (We thought maybe a bird had dropped it, but he was in perfect condition.) Next I was on the internet looking up what kind of caterpillar “he” was, a Lime Hawk-Moth that eats birch leaves, of which we have two huge trees. OK so that explains why he was in the garden. After taking lots of photos and some video of this gorgeous creature I let him go on the birch tree out of harms way.

About half an hour passed and I came out of the front door to take Henry for a walk only to find another Lime Hawk-Moth caterpillar on the door step. I know it wasn’t the same as the first as this one had different colouring, a slightly more pink/purple back. We have never seen these caterpillars before and now two in one day. Needless to say Henry didn’t get to go for a walk for some time as I just had to watch this second caterpillar. It was trying to climb the stone steps, slipping and sometimes falling on the smooth areas. It then proceeded to climb up the brick work all the way to the top of the front door. Now that solved the mystery of how the first caterpillar ended up where it did, he must have been climbing the side wall of the house and slipped on some of the stone. I still don’t understand why they were attracted to the house though, it is in the opposite direction to their food source and they pupate under ground. All very strange, but fun!