That subreddit is a place for knowledgeable insect lovers to help people identify the bugs they find in the wild. Not only do these answers satisfy the curious, but they also help them find more information about the natural world, help people get over their fear toward unknown creepy-crawlies, and ensure that the most endangered and most beneficial bugs get protected.
In this case, the bug in question was resting on a leaf. “What is this?” the Redditor asked. “Found it in the garden this morning.”
The photo showed a beautiful moth several inches wide with wings marbled in green, white, and gray. It blended in seamlessly with the mottled green-and-white leaf in the background.
The ID was immediate. “Pandora sphinx,” said one Redditor. “Lucky find!”
“Thanks for the info,” the original poster replied. “This is the first fancy moth we have ever seen. It is a moth, right?”
“Yes, this guy sure is a moth,” said another commenter. “One of my favorites, very lucky find!”
Even after the answer was confirmed, users continued to comment just to compliment the stunning creature. “Wow,” said one Redditor. “Talk about good camo.”
According to Butterflies and Moths of North America, the Pandora sphinx is a moth 3.25 to 4.5 inches wide that grows from a bright orange caterpillar with white spots. The adults eat nectar from various flowers that include petunias.
Their nectar diet makes these moths pollinators that carry pollen from flower to flower, allowing plants to correctly mature and produce seeds. Pollinators are a friend to any garden, as well as to nature in general, but their populations are often impacted by pesticides and invasive species replacing plants they rely on for food.
Thanks to r/WhatIsThisBug and others, though, many people are learning more about their insect neighbors — including how to protect them.
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