Poplar Hawk Moth
The poplar hawk moth is but one of 1,000 species of hawk moth throughout the world; most are found in the tropics. The poplar hawk moth is nocturnal and feeds and mates at night. During the day it rests on tree trunks where it is perfectly camouflaged because of its gray brown wings. Because of the lack of a ‘frenulum’ (a structure that normally holds the wings together), it can hold its hind wings further forward than its forewings, giving it an unusual appearance at rest. When it lifts its forewings, it will reveal fiery red spots on its hind wings to frighten off an intruder. It mates in May or June. The female lays round, shiny, yellow eggs on poplar, aspen, willow, or sallow tree leaves. The proboscis on the adult is non-functional, so they do not feed during adulthood. They rely on energy stored in their bodies during the caterpillar stage. The adult lives for 3 – 4 weeks and dies after mating or laying eggs. Caterpillars hatch from the eggs seven days later. They are mainly bright green and have orange red breathing holes, called spiracles, and a thorn like spike near the end of their tails. The caterpillars wave the spiked end to scare away predators. They resemble the leaves that they hang from while feeding.