The Death’s-Head Hawkmoth is very large with markings resembling a skull, hence the name, and has long been associated throughout Europe with all manner of superstitions. It squeaks, which I find fascinating, but this unique ability has doubtless contributed to its ill-deserved reputation as an announcer of death, predicting everything from plague to war.
Eye-catching! The Hawkmoth caterpillar
The genus name is Acherontia, a reference to the river Acheron in the Epirus area of Greece. The Acheron flows from the mountains down into the Ionian Sea, and was prominent in Greek mythology as one of the five rivers of death in the Underworld.
Perhaps Persephone wandered its banks, weeping into the dark waters?
I’ve seen the Hawkmoth caterpillars on the property fairly frequently, feeding their way voraciously along, but have never been able to capture a good picture of the moth. Unless one happens to fly into the light, they’re not easy to spot at night but I’ve heard the strange squeak they make; one can understand why primitive peoples were so preoccupied with them.
No pesticides or poisons of any sort have ever been used on this land so we are fortunate to have quite a variety of insects which creep and crawl, flutter and fly about on their foraging missions, ducking and diving from their natural predators. Yes, of course the garden suffers to some extent, but it’s amazing how the birds by day and the bats by night sort things out somewhat.
I wasn’t ready for this close-up!
The colourful Death’s-Head Hawkmoth caterpillars are so striking that the lowly worms inching and squinching their munching way along seem insignificant by comparison.
Forget the cyclamen flowers, I need the leaves
Whether they creep or crawl, are large or small, worms and caterpillars are highly regarded by birds, so their lives are constantly under threat whatever their colouring.
Knitting needles, a few yards of yarn and a button or two – I give you GoogliBugs.
Watch out for birds!
Quite tasty, no?
Minor’s puzzled…where’d he go?
What is this stuff?
Nice ‘n’ fresh!
Trying to worm your way in?
Lots here to fatten me up!
These leaves aren’t up to much, don’t you think?
The food’s beautifully presented
Pink’s my favourite colour
With a lot of luck, these may become moths and butterflies!
Are we related?
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Tagged bats, birds, Caterpillar, colour, crawling, creeping, Europe, garden, GoogliBug, Greek mythology, Ionian sea, kids, knitting, leaves, moths, Pelion, threat, Underworld, worms
Cyclamen Graecum – Greek cyclamen – is native to the eastern Mediterranean, lying low during the hot, dry summers, to awaken slowly into full bloom as the autumn rains make their entrance. Where there is shade and a little moisture, a few eager blooms begin to appear in late summer, a gentle reminder to make the most of summer’s remaining days. The flowers seem delicate, but these plants are hardy and thrive in poor soil, peeping up among the rocks, and even quite literally out of a rock if there’s a bit of soil caught in a hollow.
Anywhere it Can
Here on the Pelion where there are large areas of open ground on the hillsides and among the olive groves, the cyclamen are quite a sight scattered about among the rocks and stones. Other wild flowers are preparing for their spring debut, and their leaves are pushing up wherever they too can find a space. Wild oregano and fennel waft their scent through the air, adding to the pleasure of those who take the time to walk through the fields to wonder at the cyclamen.
Seeing such beauty every day is inspirational, so I dived deep into my stash to capture something of it, with the result that Jason has another hat. He made no sound as I hauled him through the fields of pink, seeming content to fix his glassy eyes upon the lovely upswept petals in their shades of pink, arising from heart-shaped dark green leaves.
Will an olive fall on my head?
Gazing in Wonder
Maybe a Centaur Will Appear
Cyclamen, derived from the ancient Greek word, kyklaminos, meaning shaped like a circle, which probably refers to the round tuber, are very popular in gardens and as pot plants. There are many cultivated varieties in every possible shade of pink, ranging through to stunning crimsons, and what a vibrant display they make.
Are there spiders in there?
And so many colours!
In the Market
But there’s something about field after field of these little flowers whose history traces deep back into antiquity that can’t be captured in a pot.
What IS this??
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Tagged ancient Greek, antiquity, autumn, Centaurs, circle, crimson, cultivated, cultivated varieties, cyclamen, cyclamen graecum, eastern Mediterranean, Greece, heart-shaped, Jason, leaves, olive groves, patterned, Pelion, pink, pot plants, rocks, soil, spiders, summer, wildflowers