A Hidden Treasure in the Weeds


Photo by Carolynn Waites

I have several gardens that I keep for butterflies, birds, bees or whomever else might want to come visit. I plant native plants and then I just kind of let nature take its course. But there does come a time when some weeding or other upkeep needs to be done. There has been some kind of woody vine coming over my back fence and taking over my oleanders. It’s going to be a big project to get rid of it all and I have been waiting for the weather to cool off a bit. But the other day, I decided to tackle a little bit of it.

I was taking handfuls of the plant and pulling it off the oleanders, occasionally having to cut the vine attachment off of my plants. I was surprised by this green caterpillar as I was discarding this section of the vine. He sure does blend into the greenery. I re-homed him to an area that I had not cleared out. You can bet I was extra careful after that, checking for visitors among the vines before I disposed of them.

Photo Courtesy of University of Kentucky

This green caterpillar is the larvae for the Waved Sphinx Moth (Ceratomia undulosa). This is a very common moth with a wingspan of up to 4 inches. It can be found in throughout the eastern United States. The caterpillars pupate in the soil and the adult moth emerges 2-3 weeks later. The moths are named for the black wavy lines on the wings. They also have a distinctive white dot on each wing.

This is a great example of how you never know what surprises Mother Nature has hiding in your own backyard.



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