You may recall that last spring I found a sawfly larva eating a distinctive pattern in a black cherry leaf, and was going to try to raise it. Well, on June 17 I noticed a tiny inchworm (about 2.5 mm long) that had apparently hatched from an egg I hadn’t noticed when I’d collected the leaf a week earlier. Here it is alongside the sawfly larva and its droppings:
And a closer view:
On June 21, it had grown to about 4.2 mm:
On June 25, it had grown to 8.5 mm, and had darkened considerably. Here you can see its leaf-skeletonizing feeding pattern.
By June 30, it had reached a length of about 16 mm, and had developed some longitudinal stripes.
It had also developed some distinctive markings on its face:
A few days later, it disappeared into a jar of soil I had offered it. Today, I found the adult moth fluttering in the jar.
It is, as expected, a “white spring moth” (Lomographa vestaliata)–perhaps the most nondescript of all moths, but a welcome sign of spring nonetheless. Maybe accidentally raising a moth when attempting to raise a sawfly will become an annual tradition.
Although this moth had been exposed to indoor temperatures for a month or so, and may have emerged earlier than it otherwise would have, I saw another geometrid (inchworm) moth fluttering around my yard two days ago: “the infant” (Archiearis infans). It was right next to a paper birch, which is one of the larval food plants. I couldn’t have gotten a shot of it even if I’d had a camera with me, but here is the last photo I took of one–on April 24, 2004. When they’re flying, you mostly see the orange hind wings, and they give the impression of little butterflies.