Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Buried Treasure

While replanting some pots out front, we discovered some buried treasure:

What the heck is it, you might ask? Why, it's a sphinx moth cocoon, I reply. It's quite big, several inches long and thicker than my thumb, and the segmented end tends to wiggle when you touch it. The "handle" on the right side is actually a sheath protecting the developing proboscis - that certainly gives you an idea of the size of the moth that will emerge.

(Quick Fact: In general, moths bury themselves and pupate as a cocoon, while butterflies suspend themselves from a silk pad and pupate as a chrysalis. Interestingly, most 5-year-olds know this, but most adults do not!)

Since we didn't see the caterpillar, we can't be certain which type of sphinx moth will eventually emerge from this cocoon. Moths pupate much longer than most butterflies, and it could be weeks or months until he shows his colors. We're keeping him safe in a jar on the back porch and will post pictures when the time comes!


  1. Where exactly in Florida, you found this pupa? It looks like a giant sphinx moth cocoon.

  2. We found one too! We plan on putting ours in a jar too. But did you put soil in the jar? I wanna see it not kill it. =(

  3. Love your blog. Found it while researching sphinx moths because we found a caterpillar munching on some grape vine leaves in your backyard in California. What ever happened to the caterpillar that was pupating? It's been a few weeks and it still hasn't come up. Thanks!