Monday, August 06, 2007

Critters in my Saskatchewan Garden

I had a couple fascinating encounters with critters of the insect kind today.

I was out photographing plants when this fellow landed on my shirt. You would not believe how difficult it is to get a photograph of something that lands on your belly button! These busy prehistoric-looking helicopters of the insect world are beautiful and I hadn't been able to photograph a blue one until now! I posted pictures of a red one a few weeks ago, but that one was tiny compared to this monster. I estimate this one to be about 4 and 1/2 inches (19 cm) long. Shortly thereafter, I saw this plump critter inching past my green garden shoes. I can't quite identify it. Does anybody know what it is? There are online pictures of sphinx moth caterpillars that look similar. It lacks horns, has a brown head, and has about four diagonal white stripes on its sides. It has a more prominent diagonal white stripe that crosses over the top of the back end of the caterpillar.  Thanks to internet references, this seems to be a poplar sphinx moth caterpillar.  
Poplar sphinx caterpillar
Oh yes, and a pretty butterfly on an Echinacea flower! This bed contains several flowers attractive to bees and butterflies: purple Liatris, Echinacea purpurea, and Mondarda didyma (Bergamot, Bee balm).

3 comments:

Cherie said...

I love the following website

http://www.whatsthatbug.com/caterpillar.html

because they have it all. Check under Big Poplar Sphinx Caterpillar. I think you may have one of the instars of this moth.

Oh, I gotta tell you, as a former (SK) prairie girl, I enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work.

Gardenista said...

Cherie - I think you've ID'd that caterpillar! It is interesting that I found it near a bunch of poplar trees and that it was starting to dig into my garden soil. The website says it requires damp soil in which to dig and then pupate. Now I know!

Saskboy said...

Cool bugs. I'll be in La Ronge for my first trip there, sometime around the end of the month.