Kenneth Setzer

Green Animals are Cool

Now that Nome’s fueled up, I can get back to nature.

Thanks to my neighbor across the street, who knows I like “weird things,” I’ve recently become acquainted with this beauty:

Gaudy sphinx moth

It turns out this is known colloquially as a “gaudy sphinx moth,” though I find it tasteful.

Not surprisingly, green — and its many variations — is my favorite color. I think we’re designed to find it appealing. Green means food, shelter, etc. It’s even supposedly derived from the Old English verb “growan,” meaning “to grow.” (I gotta check the OED to make sure).

This individual was BIG, with about a 3.5″ wingspan. Its hindwings showed flashes of blue and red when it displayed its defense mechanism of wing flapping. I carried it from a walkway to my yard for more photos and to shield it from pedestrians, etc.

Gaudy sphinx moth on walkway. Damage is visible on the thorax and behind the head.

I usually clam up when it comes to revealing my interests. So few people appreciate, no less share, my love of creatures great and small. But I’m fighting that tendency. And it’s paid off not only in this case, but my same neighbor (Nancy) has referred me to all kinds of interesting phenomena around the neighborhood. For example, the first latticed stinkhorn mushroom I encountered was down my own street, but the very same neighbor told me of it.

She also caught me one day after work, letting me know there was a “tree covered in mushrooms.” Of course I ran to see it after I grabbed my camera kit. This is the happy scene I found:

Mushroom manna

Just a portion of fungi on a dead gumbo limbo tree

That’s my thumb for size comparison. There were hundreds of these mushrooms peeking out of every crack and foothold available on this tree, a dead/dying gumbo limbo.

There were also quite  a few of outcroppings of a kind of shelf fungus.

Shelf fungus on gumbo limbo tree

I left the moth alone on a branch. Later, I found him/her dead, but at least it was, I hope, a dignified death. At the very least, this lepidopteran enriched my life and increased my happiness.

If I had been my usual reserved self, I would have missed out on these incredible situations. I think I’ll continue to let my self be heard.

Look into those eyes.

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