Montana Outdoors

September 16, 2010

Leafy spurge hawk moth caterpillar

Filed under: Butterflies — Tags: , , , , — montucky @ 9:47 pm

I’ve seen the moth and it’s very pretty, but this is the first mature larva that I’ve encountered. I wondered at the strategy that produced those colors (but it worked today because the color caught my attention before I stepped on it – it was marching down the middle of the trail!).

Spurge Hawk-Moth Caterpillar

Spurge Hawk-Moth Caterpillar

It’s an interesting little individual. Here is some information about it.


  1. Ganrly. I have never seen anything like that. It has beautiful colors. At first sight I thought that You have photographed some snake.

    Great photo!


    Comment by sartenada — September 16, 2010 @ 10:59 pm

    • That is the first time I have seen that caterpillar and it was a complete surprise.


      Comment by montucky — September 17, 2010 @ 12:07 am

  2. At first glance I thought that was one interesting slithering creature….so glad it’s a moth! I bet it will be even more beautiful when it matures with wings!


    Comment by Stacey Dawn — September 16, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

    • I’ve seen the moth before and I know I have a photo of it, but I can’t find it. It’s a very pretty moth.


      Comment by montucky — September 17, 2010 @ 12:08 am

  3. What a pretty little guy. Nature is so wonderfully varied.


    Comment by Robin — September 17, 2010 @ 5:05 am

    • It sure is. I keep wondering what function the pattern and colors provide and how they came to develop. I’m sure each variety has a survival strategy of its own: I wish I could understand.


      Comment by montucky — September 17, 2010 @ 9:18 pm

  4. That’s amazing… I expect the colours and patterns are to make predators think twice about eating it (or treading on it!)

    By the way, I don’t know if it’s my browser or monitor but your blog’s side panel has suddenly decided to deposit itself over the side of your images… so I looked at the full versions in my reader.


    Comment by Val Erde — September 17, 2010 @ 8:58 am

    • Well, the combination of decorations sure alerted me of its presence. At the very first instant the first thing that came to mind was a small snake.

      I’ve been experimenting with a lager photo size, and maybe that is causing problems with your browser. I use Safari, and with it all I had to do was expand my browser window slightly . I read that WordPress can use photos of up to 1024 pixels wide, and that is what I’ve been trying.

      I also see that 1024 is one of the sizes that Flickr offers and my photos on WordPress are links from Flickr. I have been using about 760 pixels, but to get that on Flickr, I have to upload that specific size and then it will be the largest size of that photo on Flickr and if someone wants to see a larger size, it isn’t available. Lately I’ve been uploading one about 1500 pixels wide and using the Flickr automatic size of 1024 for WordPress and there is still one of 1500 available on Flickr.

      Made that kind of confusing, didn’t I! Sure confused me, anyway.

      If the size is, or becomes much of a problem, of wourse I’ll go back to the 760 size again.


      Comment by montucky — September 17, 2010 @ 9:48 pm

      • Er, yeah… I sort of get you. I use Firefox. If I zoom out I can see the photos fine but then can barely read the text. But this is only the newer pics that are near the top of the page as those below your sidebar are fine. Not sure what you can do about it, if anything. Main thing is I can see them ‘whole’ with a bit of action on my part.

        This page about minimum and mazimum image widths on WordPress might be helpful to you:

        What’s your layout, by the way?


        Comment by Val Erde — September 18, 2010 @ 7:20 am

        • The layout I use is “Silver is the new black”. I switched to it because it let me use a larger photo size, and my motivation for that was because of the wide landscape photos.

          Thanks for the link to that page: I hadn’t seen it. It does show 1024 as the largest size, but they don’t account for all of the monitors out there and the individual browsers either. Different browsers must treat widths different ways. If I narrow the size of my page on Safari, it truncates the right part of the photo and if you aren’t familiar with the photo you wouldn’t detect the difference.

          I may have to go back to a reduced size of photo. I certainly don’t want to create problems for anyone.


          Comment by montucky — September 18, 2010 @ 10:25 am

  5. That little guy better get to pupating, or it’ll be a ‘snow’ moth when it emerges.

    I also saw some difference in the formatting. Cool shots though, especially when viewed in full!


    Comment by Daveabirding — September 17, 2010 @ 11:25 am

    • I’m beginning to think that stage of the larva doesn’t last too long, but I don’t know if it winters that way or not.


      Comment by montucky — September 17, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

  6. Hi Montucky, That is the prettiest caterpillar I have ever seen a photo of! What a stunner! Great Photo!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — September 17, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

    • It sure is pretty, isn’t it! When I did some research on it I ran across a site that showed photos of what they thought were the ten prettiest caterpillars in the world and they rated this number one.


      Comment by montucky — September 17, 2010 @ 9:21 pm

  7. We have lots of spurge out in the field, but I have never seen a caterpillar like that. I am sure I would have remembered that paint job.

    That was a very interesting article. Thanks for adding it to your post.


    Comment by sandy — September 17, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

    • I’ve been around leafy spurge for many years and I never saw one of those caterpillars either, although I remember seeing the moths. Perhaps that mature stage doesn’t last too long.


      Comment by montucky — September 17, 2010 @ 9:21 pm

  8. It sure is colorful, glad you didn’t squish him/her/it.


    Comment by Candace — September 17, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

    • I’m glad too, Candace. It’s a very pretty little creature.


      Comment by montucky — September 17, 2010 @ 11:22 pm

  9. Wow! What a beautiful and stunning caterpillar! It’s been a long, long while since I’ve seen a colorful caterpillar and this one is so vivid! Wonderful you spotted it and was able to photograph the gorgeous and amazing critter. 🙂


    Comment by Anna — September 18, 2010 @ 8:27 am

    • It was lucky that I saw it (for me as well as the caterpillar). Can’t believe it’s the first one I’ve seen!


      Comment by montucky — September 18, 2010 @ 10:18 am

  10. Gosh, that is a beautiful caterpiller. I clicked on the link–what a pretty moth he turns into.


    Comment by kateri — September 18, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

    • Yes, I’ve seen the moths and they are very pretty. Quite large, too.


      Comment by montucky — September 18, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

  11. Very impressive coloring on this little creature.


    Comment by knightofswords — September 19, 2010 @ 9:29 am

  12. W-E-I-R-D!!! and definitely gets your attention


    Comment by silken — September 19, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

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