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Old July 31, 2017   #1
jillian
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Default What are these things?

If you look closely there are 3 of these clustered together on my pepper plant. They're huge, anyone know what they are? Kind of pretty but GROSS!
Is this the hornworm moth?
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Old July 31, 2017   #2
gorbelly
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They look like Polyphemus moths attempting a ménage à trois in your pepper plants. They're big, pretty moths normally, but let's face it, nobody really looks good in pr0n.

EDITED TO ADD: http://stlwildones.org/polyphemus-mo...-moths-mating/

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Old July 31, 2017   #3
Worth1
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I dont think they are I had some and posted pictures some time ago look up moths.

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Old July 31, 2017   #4
gorbelly
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Hornworm moths have spots along the abdomen and have a much more barklike pattern on their wings. The tobacco hornworm moth has 6 spots and the tomato hornworm has 5 spots (but both are found on both tobacco and tomatoes, as well as other solanaceae like peppers).
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Old July 31, 2017   #5
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Yes they are the Polyphemus moths mating. You are looking at the underside of the wing, not the top. The clear 'windows' in the wing and red legs are a very good indicator that this is the species that we are looking at. They should stay coupled for the most part of the day. The male will perish in 24 hours. The female will live for about 5-7 more days as she goes about laying her eggs. Once her eggs have all been deposited, she too will die. These moths have no mouths. They can not eat or drink a thing in this state of their life. It is all about reproduction.
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Old July 31, 2017   #6
dmforcier
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Are those pepper pods in the background?
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Old July 31, 2017   #7
jillian
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MissS that's just fascinating! I wasn't sure whether to "dispose" of them or not......last year I only had 1 hornworm in the garden , not on the tomatoes but munching on my peppers! Do the caterpillars of this moth do damage like the hornworm?
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Old July 31, 2017   #8
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They eat the leaves of shrubs and trees, and they don't have concentrated populations in most places, so they're not considered a pest of note. Definitely not a threat to most garden veggies.
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Old July 31, 2017   #9
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No they don't. They will only lay 3-8 eggs at a time and the larva feed on trees such as wild cherry, willow, ash and such. Your garden plants will not be on this beauties menu.
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Old July 31, 2017   #10
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Jillian, your female is on the left side of the photo. Her abdomen has swollen during copulation. The male is on the right. He is losing about 90% of his body mass into her. Once done his abdomen will appear very thin and withered. All of his fluid is now in her allowing her to live and disperse her ova. If you look closely at these moths you will notice that the female has very small narrow antennae, while the males is larger and more like a feather. The males use this as their source of smell to find a fertile female to mate with.
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Old July 31, 2017   #11
jillian
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That's so intriguing, I wonder if the third one is male or female? I can't tell.......I assume male?
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Old July 31, 2017   #12
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Yep, most definitely a male. He just might grab onto her once the other two separate, but most likely not. My daughter was very intrigued with these moths when she was young. We began to raise and breed them along with a few other of the 'Great Moths'. We must have bred over 500 pairs, of course we would release them after keeping just a few ova for the next generation of moths. We would place the females in a cage and put them outside at night. The males would fly in between 1-4 AM to mate. Only once did we have a female mate twice and it happened when the second male stayed right next to them and jumped on as soon as the first male uncoupled. We kept quite a bit of this females ova. It was interesting because you could tell that they had two different fathers from their markings. One half were a deep cinnamon brown like the second male, the other half was a dusty grey resembling the first male. We found that very interesting.
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