Gardening and the Important Pause

When our boys were little, I vividly remember us spotting a huge moth on our patio. 
It was the biggest I had ever seen!

 The moth rested on our wall almost all day and we were enthralled. We learned that it was a hummingbird moth. Fast forward over the years and we've seen several. In fact,
 I saw one or two a couple of weeks ago buzzing around our hyacinth bean vine.

Last week I went out one morning and spotted a pot of Pentas being decimated right before my eyes. The culprits were a bunch of caterpillars that you can see here. My initial reaction was anger but that's where the pause came in. You see, I'm not using insecticides much at all so my curiosity was piqued as to whether or not this was a friend or foe.

There was a flurry of text messages to my butterfly group friends and research on the internet. My friend's landscape architect was at her house at the time and they came over to see. #wearenerds
We all agreed these are most likely Sphynx Moth Caterpillars which people often despise because they eat so much.  But guess what they morph into? 

Hummingird moths or Sphynx moths.   
I had no idea they were the same or very closely related.
These moths are pollinators - we need them in our world!

I suppose if I were the type of gardener growing plants for my own sustenance, I might not appreciate this caterpillar at all. But knowing that some little boys and girls might later have the chance to watch or chase a hummingbird moth is pretty neat to me. I'll sacrifice this plant for that possibility.

What do you think...would you have grabbed your pesticides? I hope not.
If we pause and learn we might save something important.
Here's  a wonderful video of hummingbird moths. :)

Image Map


  1. Fascinating information here today, Stacey. I plant Pentas every year (love them). I will now be on the lookout for these caterpillars. They are kinda creepy looking with their suction cup feet and that horn :).
    However, I now know they are our friends as I love to spot a hummingbird moth in the garden. Brett and I enjoyed the video while eating breakfast. I had no idea the life span of a h. moth was so short.
    Thanks for sharing and caring.

  2. You make a wonderful point here, Stacey. I usually never see the bugs -- just their effects! How wise that you checked it out first. This is a good lesson to all!

  3. All natural here and the beauty of wonderful that shows up is awesome. The praying mantis is my favorite and I brought one in the house by mistake when cutting zinnias the other day. Bugs are just part of life because I find everything God created has purpose.

    Carole @ Garden Up Green

  4. Interesting info, Stacey! I didn't know that. My hubby always says that the creatures we find in the garden all serve a purpose in the ecosystem.

  5. You have such a great point of view. I've never heard of a hummingbird moth, but they are so neat! Just yesterday I went out on the front porch and there was a butterfly just sitting there with its wings all spread out. It was so pretty. I left it there and went about my day. About 8 hours later, I went back out on the porch and it was still there, but now its wings were retracted and it looked just like a moth. Then I noticed its wings were a little more rounded than a butterfly, so I guess it really was a moth. Wish I had taken a pic because I just checked and now it's gone. :)

  6. Good "reminder" post - because of so many millions of bees dying, if we don't POLLINATE the human race starves within 6 years.

    So, leave it be is what I'd do I guess. Tho I use NEEM OIL on my roses or I cannot grow them, but it is supposed to be a little better on the environment. Hope so. I use it sparingly along with Japanese Beetle traps - but the pollinators we absolutely must embrace.

    Thanks for the moth vid - never saw one in my entire life. They're eerie but amazing.

  7. I never use pesticides. I'd rather lose a plant than use chemicals in my patio garden.

  8. Love the choice you made ♥

  9. I applaud you for giving up your plant so these cool creatures will hang around!

  10. Stacey what an awesome post...l love that you paused and checked before spraying and how incredible was it, that it was the very moth you and your sons had admired all those years ago. They must have KNOWN to come to YOUR garden because they KNEW you wouldn't harm them.... and maybe because of this post many more might pause before spraying.

  11. Pretty neat! I seldom notice caterpillars around here. I know they're there though. Guess I need to look harder for them. We certainly have plenty of butterfies and moths buzzing around!

  12. Very kind of you to give up a plant, Stacey!
    My veggie garden gets all sorts of organic pesticides-I won't share my veggies with bugs!
    Happy Tuesday,

  13. So interesting, Stacy. i can now identify a hummingbird moth! I see the hummingbirds at the lake quite a bit, I think because my neighbor has such an abundance of flowers and feeders. But here in the city, I saw the tiniest hummingbird just the other day. I've heard of hummingbird moths but now seeing this, I know it was most likely a juvenile hummingbird. What a thrill!!


  14. Very cool, Stacey. #imanerdtoo. I've seen plenty of the hummingbird moths, but not the caterpillar stage. Thanks for sharing.

  15. How interesting! I usually don't use pesticides but last year we had a swarm of bumblebees living under our porch steps right at the front door. We had to do something! Other than that, I say let nature be nature :-)

  16. Great shots of him! He's beautiful and I admit it. I would not have grabbed the pesticides, but I may have grabbed a leaf or two and him and relocated him.

    To the neighbors yard. She doesn't garden at all. LOL

  17. Stacey,
    Many years ago a friend gave me a piece of her passion vine. I was so excited. It took two years for it to really take off, but it was spectacular the second year. Then all of the sudden I thought it was dead. One day beautiful and the next mostly brown. I was so upset. The next day I took my husband out to show him and there were hundreds of black and orange butterflies in my backyard. Apparently, the caterpillars LOVE passion vine! They had been eating it. After the day of the butterflies, it didn't take long for the passion vine to pop right back to its former beauty. I will never forget it! It made me pause and think before trying to use insecticides before more natural methods that's for sure. Thanks for reminding me of the butterflies and to think before using chemicals! Your caterpillar is a handsome one!

  18. Oh I have enjoyed this piece this morning. Yes, there is so much we could learn if we'd only take the time to read. You made an awesome choice! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  19. So interesting, Stacey! My husband has a wide knowledge of insects and he will be interested in this post...thanks for sharing, Pam @ Everyday Living

  20. This is great Stacey. Glad you took "pause" and did not grab the insecticide. Sacrificing the plant for the greater good is fabulous. Loved your post today.

  21. What an amazing insect. I am not a fan of insecticides, nor am I a fan of bugs, but yup, I would've left it alone. He's neat.

  22. I do not use any insecticides in my garden. Monday I was out looking at my half dead garden due to the drought and not being able to use water. I have a plant that smells like peanut butter and it has a beautiful flower. On top of that flower was a June bug. They kinda scare me, but here it was on top of the flower eating the ants away. the ants love that flower and I can't even bring one into an arrangement due to the number of ants. So now I have respect for the June Bugs - the keep the ants under control.

    Due to the drought we have so many bugs that I have never seen before coming out looking for water. I pray that we will have a lot of rain this winter.

    Thanks so much for the information on your mouths. I bet the butterfly wee amazing.

    Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend.


  23. I haven't seen the hummingbird moth caterpillar. Your pics are great and so interesting. I only learned about the hummingbird moth two or three years ago and thanks to the internet was able to identify it.
    I appreciate your educating us about pollinators.
    So many people are not aware of the danger of insecticides.

  24. I have never seen a hummingbird moth! I garden organically, so I would not have used pesticide. I am trying to save the honey bees.

  25. Such a glorious post! I was brought up by my father using everything organic, he created natural fertilizers that kept the bugs away. So my father was pretty ahead of himself.

  26. What a beautiful post. I love hummingbird moths and just became aware of them a few years ago.

    They are a treat to see.


  27. Great post Stacey. My little grandson has been learning about pollinators so I will pass it on to him ;)

  28. 'Hopping over from your share at Blogging Fifty. What a great post! We all need to be kind to pollinators! Around here, we call caterpillars "Baby Butterflies". I recently captured some really nice photos of a Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly. They are so beautiful! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  29. Amazing photos and I would agree not to use pesticides! If you would like we have a blog hop Wed-Sun and we would love to have you!

  30. Loving this post! Your photographs are gorgeous! If I gardened, I wouldn't use pesticides. hehe

  31. I love hummingbird moths! I have never seen the caterpillars before - now I know what to look for. I don't like using pesticides and avoid them when I can. Glad you let these feast so they can changed into the cool moths!

  32. I love hummingbird moths! Had no idea they emerged from these. Although I have never seen them before. I have had a ton of giant grasshoppers munching on everything lately. My first thought was to have hubby spray. Then I decided to let them enjoy the last hurrah of summer. :) Thanks for sharing with SYC.


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