Laurie Peters took this photo of a Pacific Green Sphinx Moth (Proserpinus lucidus). These beautiful moths tend to fly from late afternoon into the evening, and are typically found from December through April in areas with oak woodlands, chaparral or grassy meadows.
With their short, stout bodies they are able to tolerate cold temperatures much better than most butterflies or moths, and they have been discovered flying when the thermometer registered only 46 degrees Fahrenheit. They seem more furry than some moths; perhaps their fur acts like a fuzzy green jacket to help keep them warm.
Pacific Green Sphinx Moths are not common, but they can be encountered throughout Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California and into Mexico. The males, as usual, tend to be brighter in color than the females and may be a more intense shade of green.
These beautiful moths have one of the earliest flight periods — from mid-December through mid-April, in different parts of the state. They usually aren't seen in the Tehachapi Mountains until March or April.
The order Lepidoptera includes both the mostly diurnal butterflies and the mostly nocturnal moths, but moths greatly outnumber butterflies: there are estimated to be about 825 species of butterfly in North America, and more than 12,000 species of moths. The largest moths in the U.S. are the cecropia or silkworm moths, whose wingspan may reach five or six inches.
NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: email@example.com.