Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hawk Moths or Sphinx Moths (Sphingidae) aka larvae known as the Green Hornworm

"Moths represent a biological storehouse of interesting, dramatic, and unusual behaviors, some with roles as pollinators, and others as food for other animals. All have interesting stories to tell if we will only take the time to stop, look, listen and smell the hidden world of moths and their flowers. Planting moonlight or a fragrance garden is a sure way to enjoy not only these wonderful blossoms, but also their nocturnal pollinators, especially the giant hawk moths."

"Hawk moths have the world’s longest tongues of any other moth or butterfly (some up to 14 inches long). Charles Darwin knew of the star orchids (Angraecum spp.) from Madagascar that had nectar spurs over a foot in length."

These magnificent animals have long narrow wings and thick bodies. They are fast flyers and often highly aerobatic. Many species can hover in place. Some can briefly fly backwards or dart away.  The caterpillars (larvae) of hawk moths feed on potato, tobacco, tomato, and other plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae). 

Here are links to the hawk moths of Shasta County and Butte County.

Green Belt Movement

 "The Green Belt Movement (GBM) was founded by Professor Wangari Maathai in 1977 as an offshoot of the National Council of Women of Kenya (NCWK) to respond to the needs of rural Kenyan women who reported that their streams were drying up, their food supply was less secure, and they had to walk further and further to get firewood for fuel and fencing. GBM encouraged the women to work together to grow seedlings and plant trees to bind the soil, store rainwater, provide food and firewood, and receive a small monetary token for their work."

The Mission is " for better environmental management, community empowerment, and livelihood improvement using tree-planting as an entry point."

 From Wangari Maathai's Nobel Lecture after receiving the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize:
 "Using trees as a symbol of peace is in keeping with a widespread African tradition. For example, the elders of the Kikuyu carried a staff from the thigi tree that, when placed between two disputing sides, caused them to stop fighting and seek reconciliation. Many communities in Africa have these traditions...

As I conclude I reflect on my childhood experience when I would visit a stream next to our home to fetch water for my mother. I would drink water straight from the stream. Playing among the arrowroot leaves I tried in vain to pick up the strands of frogs’ eggs, believing they were beads.  But every time I put my little fingers under them they would break. Later, I saw thousands of tadpoles: black, energetic and wriggling through the clear water against the background of the brown earth. This is the world I inherited from my parents.

Today, over 50 years later, the stream has dried up, women walk long distances for water, which is not always clean, and children will never know what they have lost. The challenge is to restore the home of the tadpoles and give back to our children a world of beauty and wonder."  

Astronomy Picture of the Day