Gary Workman has a knack of finding things. The Gordonton grader driver was working near Otorohanga on Monday and spotted a curious wee beastie.
He scooped it into a handy container and brought it home, and later that night knocked on the N8N door.
“It was on the ground, near a big plane tree, heading as fast as it could towards the road, where it would have got squished.”
The curious critter was identified by the resident zoologist (every household should have one) to be an Agrius convolvuli, or a convolvulus hawk moth.
A native, but found widely around the world, these are quite cool things.
“The adults actually look like hummingbirds, only a mottled grey colour,” says David Riddell.
The caterpillars feed on members of the convolvulus family, which includes kumara. The adults eat nectar, which they sip on the wing with their long, tubular mouthparts. They only come out at dusk. David has seen them only two times, both in Northland, feeding on flax flowers near the shoreline.
The hawk moth caterpillar was a first for Gary, who thinks it was on its way to pupate. He is going to pop it in a box with soil, and hopes it will make the Change. Watch this space. It might be Gordonton’s first hummingbird look-alike.
But wait – there’s more. According to the NZ Herald, one of the new technology releases by the US military is modelled on a hummingbird. The Nano Air Vehicle relays live video stream to users, and is an impressive hoverer. So double check that hawk moth which looks like a hummingbird – it might just be the latest in covert urban surveillance.