Friday, May 8, 2009

ALL POINTS BULLETIN for Sphingidae Larvae

NOT what you are looking for but....
Sphinx moth larvae munching on Euphorbia dentatum.  Showing off with my ID?  You BET!
Yesterday I had some fun actually successfully (for once!) identifying not only some caterpillars munching in the back garden bed areas here, but also the plant they seemed to prefer.

I usually stink at identification, so I am especially appreciative for the many folks who host sites that help people like me figure out who - and what - they have discovered in their gardens.

So when I heard back from Canadian researcher Bill Oehlke, who hosts the site that helped me identify the sphinx moth larvae yesterday with this special request, I was more than happy to agree to try and help.

From Bill's page: Sphingidae: Lintneria genus
In his book The Hawk Moths of North America, James P. Tuttle, designated the genus Lintneria as appropriate for several US species, previously listed as members of the Sphinx genus:

Lintneria: eremitus, eremitoides, separatus, istar and smithi.

Based on some consistent characters of adult moths, he predicted that almost all of the previously classified Sphinx species in Mexico and from Mexico south throughout Central and South America would be more appropriately assigned to the genus Lintneria. Only Sphinx adumbrata from Mexico remains as Sphinx adumbrata.

I am requesting assistance in exploring Tuttle's prediction. I seek larval images from Central and South America that are of the same general pattern exhibited by these Lintneria species.

The link to the page is here and here are a few of the images of what he is looking for evidence of:
Lintneria separatus, fourth instar molting, Cochise County, Arizona, September 29, 2007, courtesy of Robert A. Behrstock, id by James A. Tuttle.

Lintneria (Sphinx) istar or separatus, Ft. Davis, Texas, October 1, 2005, courtesy of Mary Brown via Katherine McMahon.

There are more fascinating images on the page which I sincerely hope you will check for yourself.

Again from Bill's page:"It is anticipated that the Lintneria larvae will most often be encountered on Lamiaceae: Salvia (Sage), Mentha (Mints), Monarda (Beebalm) and Hyptis (Bushmints); Verbenaceae: Verbena and Lantana camara (shrub verbenas or lantanas).
DING DING DING! - if that isn't a list of commonly used garden plants here in Central Texas I'm a sphinx moth's uncle.  

Bill again "Although they may be encountered feeding during daylight hours, one is even more likely to discover them feeding in the evening or after dark.

Two of the greatest clues for discovering larvae are stripped foliage and droppings beneath the plant. You might be quite surprised at what will turn up in the evening or after dark in a flashlight assisted search.

It is believed that all Lintneria larvae will exhibit "a fleshy thoracic dorsal "horn" in the first 4 instars (unique in the Sphingidae of the world to my knowledge) which is replaced by a thoracic dorsal "hump" with a large black patch in the 5th instar." J.A. Tuttle.

Lamiaceae: Salvia and Hyptis sidifolia (= H. umbrosia) are the anticipated hosts in South America.

As most of these larvae are undescribed as yet, it wil be very helpful if you can rear the larva through to adulthood and also send an image of the adult moth.

If/when you are able to send images of the larvae, I will help with notes on care of larvae to get pupation and subsequent adults. You will be credited for any discoveries that get published based on your submissions.

If you are able to find any larvae matching the pattern/characters illustrated above, please send images (lateral and dorsal) with data (date, time, specific location, host plant, elevation, etc.) to Bill Oehlke. Your assistance in this matter will be greatly appreciated."

So OK we are not in Mexico or Central America either one but seeing as moths don't strictly regard political boundaries when traveling and due to differing weather patterns are showing up in all sorts of unexpected places, it makes sense for those of us here in "Northern Mexico" to be on the lookout.  

These larvae are not armed or dangerous (though those horn thingies are impressively keeping me from wanting to cuddle).  Just keep an eye out in your area, help spread the word, and let's see if we can help Bill out in return for him helping so many others out with his helpful site.

Thank you.  We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome, Send send greetings, and some pictures
    from the small and beautiful city of my 200,000 thousand residents, and 50 km from protefousa, ATHENS

    Round whole Sea, an extraordinary and inexplicable, the sea water to go every 6 hours over 6 enalax 6 (6 HOURS HOURS SOUTH BORON-6) with poly tachitita,. Michalis- Chalkis


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Rollingwood, Central Texas
Family historian by default. Oldest surviving matriarch on my branch of the Family Tree. Story teller, photo taker, gardener, cook, blabbermouth.