Friday, September 16, 2005

ENV: Not-Really-a-Cat-Friday

Well, i'm going to jump straight to West Texas for my weekly submission to The Friday Ark at The Modulator.

I photographed a few hundred moths over the weekend, most of them very small but very attractive. The largest though was a critter new to me -- Modest Sphinx. There's not much modest about it. It's huge. As in a nearly five inch wingspan. And flared just right, below that intricate tan pattern, is the bold cranberry base of its hindwing. The critter has an interesting distribution, being found nearly across the US, but records are quite spotty. It has been found in about a dozen Texas counties, but in only one in the Trans-Pecos -- Presidio -- where i caught the ones shown below (there were five total, all females). The cats feed on Willow (Salix sp.) and Cottonwood (Populus sp.) -- these were all drawn to a light setup in a small cottonwood grove at Sauceda on Big Bend Ranch in the northern quadrant of the Chiahuahuan Desert (10-11 September 2005). If you scan down a few posts you'll see some additional photos of these guys, plus some of the other goodies from the trip. This weekend i plan to post LOTS of moth pictures from the trip.

Modest Sphinx, Pachysphinx modesta

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