Tuesday, October 10, 2006

hummingbird moths -- amazing discovery!!!

remember the wuzzles? that short-lived cartoon that aired on disney in the 80s? there weren't very many shows, but disney showed them over and over!

"Here in the Land of Wuz,
they're havin' twice the fun!
'Cuz every single thing is really two-in-one!
A little bit of this... a little bit of that!
And when you add it up you get a lot of laughs!
Oooh they got originality -
driven with a split personality!
'We're the Wuzzles' (Ooooooooh, yeah!)
'We're the Wuzzles' (Oooh oh, yeah!)
Two times the fun, wrapped up and rolled into one!
Oooh they got originality -
living with a split personality!
We're the Wuzzles (Ooooooooh, yeah!)
We're the Wuzzles (Oooh oh, yeah!)
Two times the fun, wrapped up in one!"

well, this last summer, i thought i had entered into the land of wuz or something funky like that. i knew i was tired, but i didn't think i was hallucinating! raven and i had gone out to look at the front flowers, and we saw the strangest thing. it looked like a hummingbird had cross-mated with a bumble bee. seriously! i'm sure i haveever "seen" one before, but it took me a minute to be sure it wasn't a small hummingbird.

come to find out, thanks to kimberly in my botanical arts group, this is called a "hummingbird moth". seems sensible. it hovers over the flowers and sucks nectar out of them with a long, flexible tube (called a proboscus), which rolls up when not in use. this looks just like a hummingbird's beak.

this moth looked so much like a bee that raven didn't want it near her "because it might stung me!" yet it hovered and flew like a hummingbird. i asked several people who i thought might know what these were, and no one seemed to have any idea. it had been a mystery to us until the unexpected information was given to me when i asked and was provided with other caterpillar information.

what i found most amazing, though, is that this beautiful moth is the adult form of this nasty little worm that most people despise -- the tomato hornworm or the tobacco hornwom. i had some of these little demons try to take over my cherry tomato and tomato patch this summer, but as soon as i/we saw we had them -- a good dose of Seven dust took care of the problem. obviously we didn't kill them all or we wouldn't have had the hummingbird moths flying around here -- but we tried!

here is a tobacco hornworm who was feasting on the tomato plants when i went out to check on them.

a close-up of the same picture -- just to make sure you can get a good look at the nasty guy in his natural habitat.

then i decided to keep him in a jar to show to raven instead of killing him instantly, so i brought him in the house and put him in a mason jar w/ holes poked in the lid and some tomato leaves to feed on. he went through those leave in no time -- i was shocked at how much he could eat so quickly! because i saw that, i was actually out dusting the garden at midnight one night b/c i didn't want them to have all night to feed before they got dusted!

while i had him in the house, i decided to go ahead and take a couple more pictures of him -- that way if i decided to draw him, it wouldn't be so hard to see him against the background. he wasn't moving too fast by this time, but he did manage to crawl away from the top of the pizza box where i had put him for his pictures while i was busy looking for the camera. then i had to scout around the kitchen for him and found him curled up in the tomato laying out to ripen.

not to worry, though. this big nasty guy didn't become a hummingbird moth -- i took care of him! well, actually, he kind of took care of himself. i thought he was dead, so i dropped him in the cardboard coke box in the trash can. unfortunately for me, he wasn't dead yet and he crawled up and out of there and halfway across the kitchen floor before i found him -- w/ my bare feet.


i might have been the winner of that encounter . . . but it didn't really feel too exciting, if you know what i mean!

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