Saturday, March 3, 2012

Week 9: "Moon" Moths

Moths of the Week
Moon Moths -
Being primarily nocturnal creatures it was really inevitable that some moths would be name after the moon.  This week I was fortunate enough to find two moon-named moths.  The first one was pointed out to me by a co-worker, this Luna Moth (Actais luna) is one of the earliest I have seen showing up on March 1.
Forewing: 55mm
Hindwing: 85mm
Also reported from Zones 2,3,4,5,6

My second "moon moth" was a double find because I had both color morphs at my porchlight at the same time.  I find the dark morph of the Lunate Zale (Zale lunata) fairly often, but the lighter phase with the silver patches is always a treat.  
Forewing: 22mm
Also reported in Zones 3,5,6

Other moths this week:
The warmer weather is finally adding a splash of color to my moth collection this year with a couple nice finds this week, Saltmarsh moth and Banded Tiger Moth.

Saltmarsh Moth - Estigmene acrea (#8131)
Forewing: 25mm
Also reported in Zones 2,3,4,5,6
This fairly common moth has clean white forewings with just a few spots of black but when she opens her wings to fly it is brilliant orange.

Banded Tiger Moth - Apantesis vittata (#8170)
Forewing: 18mm
Also reported from Zone 6
The Apantesis moths are very difficult to distinguish but I believe in East Texas the Banded Tiger has red hindwings while the Harnessed Tiger as more yellow in the hindwing.

Greater Oak Dagger Moth - Acronicta lobeliae (#9238)
Forewing: 24mm
Also reported from Zones 1,3,5,6
Also listed as Lobelia Dagger Moth; however this nomenclature reflects an early misconception of the food plant preferred by these caterpillars.

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