moth id

Wed Aug 25 13:35:49 EDT 1999

Dear listers,

> Rich and Lisa Flynn wrote:
> > 
> > I found a large green catapillar eating my Datura (Jimson weed).   I put it in
> > an aquarium with the plant. It is now as large as my little finger,  has a
> > thin diagonal black strip with one small irridescent spot on each segment.  It
> > hasn't any protrusions.  This morning it has burrowed into the gravel at the
> > bottom of the aquarium.  I have wedged some sticks it there.   It doesn't fit
> > the pictorals in  my Audubon guide.  Any ideas?

If it is burrowing, then it is undoubtedly a moth, and fits for several 
different groups of moths. The silver spots on each segment sound 
like a Syssphinx (Sphingicampa) to me.  Was there *any* evidence 
of bumps/short horns on the thorax at all?  If so, then your 
caterpillar may indeed be either S. bicolor or S. bisecta, both of 
which should occur in Indiana.  The moths are pictured in Covell, 
are members of the Saturniidae, and are commonly called Honey 
Locust moths.  Small problem -- seems unlikely that they would 
have been eating Datura!!  Did you actually *see* it eat the Datura, 
or did you just find it crawling on it?  Got any locust or Kentucky 
Coffee Trees nearby?


Dr. James K. Adams
Dept. of Natural Science and Math
Dalton State College
213 N. College Drive
Dalton, GA  30720
Phone: (706)272-4427; fax: (706)272-2533
U of Michigan's President James Angell's 
  Secret of Success: "Grow antennae, not horns"

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