Saturday, January 28, 2012

Week 4: Tip Moths

Moth of the Week
Adana Tip Moth - Rhyacionia adana (#2877)
Forewing: 6mm
When I was growing up my grandfather ran a Christmas tree farm.  I remember working the field all year long; trimming, painting, and spraying for tip moths.  I would walk through the trees looking for the telltale brown tips on a branch, pluck it off and tear it open to find the caterpillar inside.

As with most of the micromoth families there are more species than are recorded in MPG or, but Adana Tip Moth is the closest match of the species listed.  Maybe in the not-to-distant future as mothing gains interest among amature naturalists we will fill in some of the holes in our knowledge and be able to more accurately identify these little gems without having to dissect them.

Other moths this week:
Packard's Wave Moth - Cyclophora packardi (#7136)
Forewing: 13mm
Celery Looper - Anagrapha falcifera (#8924)
Forewing: 16mm
Lineodes interrupta (#5108)
Forewing: 12mm
Note: The Eggplant Roller (Lineodes integra) shows a dark "C" shape on the wing

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Week 3: Lithophane Complex

Moth of the Week
Lithophane Complex

Early this week I found a moth at the porchlight that I did not recognize but seemed to be fairly well marked for identification.  A quick scan through the Walking Through the Families at MPG got me heading towards the right family.  But jumping over to I hit a major roadblock.  Apparently there are several species that even DNA barcoding is insufficient to confirm identification to the species.

Lithophane ex. #1

Lithophane ex. #2

I am tentatively labeling this as Lithophane laticinerea (#9914) based on range since the other species in the complex appear to be limited more to the Northwest portion of the country.
Forewing: 23mm

Other moths this week:
Eastern Panthea - Panthea furcilla (#9182)
Forewing: 27mm

Forage Looper - Caenurgina erechtea (#8739)
Forewing: 18mm
The dark bands on the forewing are not connected distinguishing this from Clover Looper (Caenurgina crassiuscula)
Fawn Sallow - Psaphida styracis (#10016)
Forewing: 15mm 
Gray Half-spot Moth -Nedra ramosula (#9582)
Forewing: 15mm

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Week 2: The Gem

Moth of the Week
The Gem - Orthonama obstipata (#7414)
Perhaps one of the hardiest of our winter moths here in East Texas, I have found this little Geometridae still visiting the porchlight as the temperature has dropped down into the 30's.  Identifying the female is relatively simple; she has plain brown wings ranging from light brown to a deep maroon with a small white circle in the center of each forewing.  The male is a little more difficult.  They are highly variable with different shades of whites, browns, and black making horizontal stripes across the back.  A similar species the Bent-line Carpet (Costaconvexa centrostrigaria) is equally variable.  The key to distinguishing the two is in the tip of the forewing.  The Gem has a short straight dark dash at the tip of the wing while the Bent-line Carpet has a darkish smudge that extends from the middle to the front of the wing tip.

Male - note the dark dash at the tip of the wing

Bent-line Carpet for comparison
Note the dark smudge on the front of the wing tip.


See this moth at

Some other moths this week:
Dimorphic Gray - Tornos scolopacinarius (#6486)
Forewing: 13mm

Pyreferra pettiti (#9932)
Forewing: 13mm

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Week 1: Toothed Phigalia

Moth of the week:
Toothed Phigalia - Phigalia denticulata (#6659)
 A mid-sized geometer distinguished by the sharp teeth near the costa and a sharp curve on the PM line near the median.  The females of this species are flightless and have only small stubs of wings (~2 mm).

Forewing: 17mm

Other Moths this week:
Large Paectes - Paectes abrostoloides (#8962)
Forewing: 18mm
Brown-shaded Gray Moth - Iridopsis defectaria (#6586)
Aristotelia devexella (#1734)
Forewing: 6mm