Saturday, February 25, 2012

Week 8: Bagworm Cocoons

Moth of the Week
Evergreen Bagworm Cocoons - Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis  (#457)

In Shreveport this past weekend I found a small Eastern Red Cedar infested with Bagworm cocoons.  On a quick inspection I counted over 100 cocoons on a single tree.  There were many places where 3 to 5 cocoons were hung on a single twig.

Bagworms are one of a handful of species that build a protective shell around their cocoon.  They carefully take small pieces of twigs and bind them together giving the exterior of the cocoon a cone-like appearance.  

Other Moths this week:
Filigreed Chimoptesis - Chimoptesis pennsylvaniana (#3273)
Forewing: 8mm
Also reported from Zone 3

Titian Peale's [Pyralid] Moth - Perispasta caeculalis (#4951)
Techincally this moth is no longer classified with the Pyralid moths; it is now considered a Crambid.
Forewing: 10mm

Black-dotted Brown Moth - Cissusa spadix (#8592)
Forewing: 20mm
Also reported from Zone 1

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Week 7: Bilobed Looper

Moth of the Week
Bilobed Looper - Megalographa biloba (#8907)
Forewing: 18mm
Also reported in Zones 1,3

   False eyes are a common method of defense among lepidoptera; it is perhaps at its peak in the Silk Moth family but not limited to them by any means.   The Bilobed Looper's false eye may not be quite as flashy as an Io Moth's but it is unique and seems to me to have an almost feline quality to it.  For the full effect see a pinned speciman at MPG.

While the unique eye may be diagnostic for this specific species, it would be criminal to fail to mention their exquisite crest.  The entire Plusiinae Subfamily sports a wide variety of wild and crazy head adornments. 

With their fancy do's and iridescent patches these fellows must be the punk rockers of moth society.  Rock On Loopers!

Other Moths This Week
Confused Woodgrain - Morrisonia confusa (#10521)
Forewing: 18mm

Red-winged Sallow - Xystopeplus rufago (#9942)
Forewing: 15mm
(The wings seem to flair out near the apex giving this moth a bell-like sillhouette)

Roland's Sallow - Psaphida rolandi (#10014)
Forewing: 18mm
Also reported from Zone 3
(Much like its kin the Fawn Sallow, this moth is relatively unmarked except for its great hair.  You can faintly make out a partial orbicular circle just above the median line on the costal edge.)
White-headed Prominent - Symmerista albifrons (#7951)
Forewing: 20mm
(Three species of Symmerista moth were once considered a single species; they are currently considered indistinguishable by photograph alone.  I believe this S. albifrons based on range and the 'S' shape of the matriculations in the subterminal band

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Week 6: Diacme Moth

Moth of the Week
Darker Diacme Moth - Diacme adipaloides (#5143)
Forewing: 10mm
Also reported from Zones 3,4
Some moths are rather vain.  Once caught and they settle down on the glass and pose pretty as can be while I get pictures and measurements.  When I go to release them they will sit on my finger and continue to pose for several minutes or more before flying off.  I have enjoyed this behavior with many of the Noctuoidea moths.  Others are a bit more finnicky and require a brief time to chill out in the freezer before they are willing to cooperate.  This week I caught a Darker Diacme that was incredibly uncooperative.  I spent nearly an hour  trying to photograph this little guy; I put him in the freezer several times, and he escaped off of the glass twice and I had to chase him down in the studio.  But in the end my persistance paid off and he settled down for a photo.  Then as promised I took him right back outside and let him go.

There are two species of Diacme that are reasonably found in Texas, Darker and Paler.  After doing some research on I believe that the key to distinguishing between these two species is by the color of the abdomen.

Samea moths are superficially similar to Diacme moths but are much lighter in the hindwing and have translucent markings.

 Salvinia Stem-Borer (S. multiplicalis) for comparison

The Setup
Things have really slowed down this week.  Most of the moths at the porch lights this week are just more of the same, and the cold front heading in this weekend means next week is likely to be slim too.  So I thought I would post a little bit about my studio set up. 

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel using the standard 55mm lens (eventually I hope to upgrade to a Macro lens) with an Eye-Fi card that cuts down on having to shuffle a card back and forth between camera and computer.

Lights: For Christmas I got a great lamp from IKEA with 6 positional LED lights.

Backdrop: I have experimented with various backdrops currently I am using a sheet of black construction paper behind a glass pane.  The glass is easy to clean and provides a nice gloss look to the image while the black paper, I feel, emphasizes the color and markings on the moths.

Other moths this week:

Southern Lappet Moth - Phyllodesma occidentis (#7686)
Forewing: 22mm
Also reported from zone 6 

This is one of the most interesting moths I have caught so far.  It's nose looks like a pig snout, and it has wing flaps.  The white "reniform" spot distinguishes this moth from the similar P. americana.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Upcoming Event: Moth Night

In conjuntion with National Moth Week, I am hosting a Moth Night here in Rusk County.  It will be held on Thursday, July 27th.  More details will follow as the date gets closer.

Check out National Moth Week

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Week 5: Green Cloverworm Moth

Moth of the Week
Green Cloverworm Moth - Hypena Scabra (#8465)
Also reported from Zones 3,5,6

If the Green Cloverworm were a bird it would have to be a starling.  They are gregarious, ever-present and to be honest rather homely.  I have tried on several occasions to get a good picture of one and they just never seem quite symmetrical.  One wing is invariably shorter than the other.

The Hypena genus has a considerable number of species represented in the U.S; 19 according to  Fortunately this includes the genus formerly known as Bomolocha which are generally broader winged and more boldly patterned than the Cloverworm.  Of the species most similar the Cloverworm most are limited to the West Coast or southern Florida.  One species that is fairly widespread and similar to the Cloverworm is the Hop Vine Moth (Hypena humuli).  The key to distinguishing the Cloverworm is a thin dark bar about halfway up the forewing on the inner margin.

Other Moths this week:
Zale intenta (#8713.1)
(Recently split from Bold-based Zale)
Forewing: 21mm

Gray Wooly Moth - Lycia ypsilon (#6652)
Forewing: 18mm
Also reported from Zones 3,4,5,6

Yellow-striped Armyworm Moth - Spodoptera ornithogalli (#9669)
Forewing: 16mm
Also reported from Zones 3,4,5,6

Variable Sallow - Sericaglaea signata (#9941)
Forewing: 20mm
(Note the pale sub-terminal band)