Achemon sphinx caterpillars (Eumorpha achemon) are huge, up to 3 1/2″ long and can eat up to 9 grape leaves a day, according to http://homeguides.sfgate.com/caterpillars-large-feed-grape-vines-54980.html.
Finding four, so far, on my vines, I realized: thirty-six leaves a day…that would equal hundreds of leaves gone if left to browse for a week!
The site above advocates handpicking the caterpillars and dropping them in a bucket of soapy water, but of course, I thought I’d rather feed them to my chickens.
However, when I dropped the three I could find (Where did the fourth go?) into the chicken coop, the chickens backed away as if in horror.
But these they backed away from when they just wiggled. Perhaps they were only unfamiliar?
I cut up the caterpillars with kitchen shears, and inside they oozed with green grape leaves half-digested – good food for the chickens, I thought.
When the chickens came close again, they still jumped away at the first wiggle of a caterpillar section!
Below is a close-up of the Sphinx Moth Caterpillar – quite beautiful, I think, and so it was difficult to pick them, knowing I was sending them to their deaths, and again when I chose to cut them up. But I’m sure they’ve laid plenty of eggs, and I’ll see their progeny next year. Life will go on.
Meanwhile, back in the coop, the bravest old bird picked up a piece and the others followed her to watch. It seems she ate it. And soon the three were gathered ’round, considering….
A half-hour later, the caterpillar parts were gone.
Now, back to find the fourth one, and look for more.
See you next year, beautiful Sphinx Moth~