I spotted this creature in my garden yesterday on -- where else -- some young squash plants:
This is a Squash Vine Borer (Melittia cucurbitae), and it's a moth, although it's certainly a strange-looking one. I've done battle with this creature's larvae in my past garden in Connecticut -- the squash plants died after that encounter, the insides of their stems eaten away -- but I've never gotten a chance to examine one of the adult moths up close before. I won't be too upset if these particular squash plants end up dying; they were wimpy things, planted too late, and anyway people keep offering me free zucchini because it's that time of the year. And so now I get to check out this really very cool moth, which walked so obligingly onto my finger and stayed there for an extended photo shoot. (In retrospect, I could have picked a more natural stage for this creature than my finger, but oh well.)
This moth is a wasp mimic, and it does a pretty convincing job. (It even carries itself in a a wasp-like way when it flies.) The bright orange is very striking, and I love those fuzzy back legs:
There's a lot of iridescence going on in the sunlight:
This is one fierce-looking moth:
I like my garden, but I also love moths, and this creature is just so strange and cool. I guess I'll just need to come up with some creative ways to keep its eggs and larvae off of my squash plants in the future!