Recently I’ve been revisiting some of my old photographs and I came across this one, which is one of my favorites.
This is a Pandora Sphinx moth which spent several days hanging on a wall at our condo in Ocean City, Maryland in 2011. I had never seen such a vibrant creature, so the curious shutterbug in me decided to photograph it for later identification purposes. It let me get right up on top of it with my Olympus and the flash didn’t disturb it, so I was convinced it was sick. After all, how many moths have you ever seen that don’t flitter away at the first interaction with a human? I named it “Army Strong” because of the gorgeous camouflage colors and it was there for a few days before it departed one muggy summer evening.
When I got home, I naturally wanted to learn more about Army Strong, and I Googled “camouflage moth”, which led me to what I thought was my answer. As I started reading about Oleander Hawk moths, I realized I needed to search elsewhere for information – the Oleander Hawk moth is a native of the Middle East, and it just wasn’t possible that one would be living on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I can’t remember how I found Bill Oehlke’s website, but I sent him the photo and he identified it as a Pandora Sphinx. When I asked him to show me the differences between the two because I just couldn’t see them, he set up this website. Three years later, I’m still amazed by this harmless and beautiful creature that let me take its photograph, and I’ll always be grateful to Mr. Oehlke for helping me learn more about it.