Monday, October 17, 2011

An Uninvited Guest

I must confess that Ed and I have never adopted the conventional wisdom of using sterilized potting soil for our indoor plants. Ed likes to mix his own soil anyway.  In the distant past we tried to sterilize soil in my oven. I forget how long it was to be baked or at what temperature. What I do remember and will never forget is the disgusting smell of baked worms and dirt. That was definitely a once and done project. Now a quick spray with insecticidal soap as the plants come inside is our line of defense. Since the weather has cooled the scented geraniums are on a table in front of the south facing bedroom window. It didn't take me long to notice the droppings on the table. We had an uninvited guest living in our bedroom.

 I took me considerable time to locate our green friend. His color match to the scented geranium was flawless. He sticks up  those black pointy legs up when disturbed.

 I'm not familiar with this caterpillar, but I think he is headed down in this picture. The closest picture  for any kind of identification I could find was a sphinx.  They throw their head back and stick their front legs out when disturbed. The hummingbird moth that I find so fascinating is a sphinx.

Here he is curled up in a ball just like a woolly bear or a cutworm. Ed was patient enough to get these great pictures. He also gave the caterpillar a ride outside to enjoy this beautiful day.  It will have to find another plant to chow down on. Rose geraniums are from South Africa and definitely not his usual food source. Perhaps he'll do fine. He's obviously not a picky eater. If he is to have any chance at all to continue his life cycle, he needs to be outside. Anyway, no one with toenails that sharp gets to stay in my bedroom!!!


Elephant's Eye said...

This morning I retrieved a green caterpillar from the pelargonium flowers I had picked. Tucked him outside on another plant of his preference. I didn't take the time to ID him, but he's green like yours.

Ed said...

I looked on and found a green looper that could be your caterpillar. It helped me find mine. Both are in the Autographa family The black front legs and head on mine look like a Common Looper, Autographa precationis. Personally I am always curious to know, but perhaps that is more than anyone else wants to know about a green caterpillar.