never seen creature
Location: Melbourne, Australia
May 9, 2011 8:12 am
I never seen this creature in my life. I found its family in load of my mulch. It do not have any feet but moves very slowly.
You have unearthed the Pupa of a Sphinx Moth in the family Sphingidae. This is a large family with a global distribution and there are 65 species listed on the Sphingidae of Australia web page. All of the species have pupae with a similar morphology and we are uncertain of the exact species you have found. Each species has a different food plant or plants, and knowing what plants were growing in the vicinity of the mulching in your garden, or in the vicinity where the load of mulch was produced before its delivery to your home might facilitate the identification process. You did not provide information on the load of mulch. Was it newly delivered? Though there are subtle differences in the anatomy of the various species of Sphinx Moth Pupae, they do share enough general traits to ascertain at least a family identification. The shape of a Sphinx Moth Pupa has often been described as looking like a jug with a handle. The handle is actually the case for the proboscis, the long tubular mouthparts that are used to sip nectar from blossoms much the way we humans drink from a straw. Sphinx Moths have among the longest proboscises in the insect world, and the organ is coiled when not in use, and when extended during feeding it may be several inches long. The current record for the longest proboscis is held by Morgan’s Sphinx Moth, Xanthopan morganii, a species from Madagascar which was hypothesized to exist many years before its discovery there. The Morgan’s Sphinx Moth has a nearly foot long proboscis, and when Charles Darwin was presented a Madagascar Orchid with a long nectary, he is reported to have written in a letter: “I have just received…a Box…from Mr Bateman with the astounding Angræcum sesquipedalia with a nectary a foot long— Good Heavens what insect can suck it”? Curious readers may read about the evolutionary theories of Alfred Russel Wallace who supported Darwin’s initial claim by visiting the Alfred Russel Wallace website. The casing for the proboscis in the pupae of Sphinx Moths is shorter than the actual organ, and it would be curious to know how it actually forms during the metamorphosis process. You may decide to do additional research if your query demands a species identification for your Sphinx Moth Pupa and we would also entertain the possibility that one of our readers might be able to provide information on the actual identity of this Sphinx Moth Pupa.
Thanks to a comment from Bostjan Dvorak, we now know that this is Agrius convolvuli, the Convolvulus Hawkmoth. Here is a page from the Sphingidae of Australia website.