Saturday, March 31, 2012

Week 13: Grapeleaf Skeletonizer

Grapeleaf Skeletonizer - Harrisina americana (#4624)
Forewing: 10mm
Also reported in Zones 3,5,6
While superficially similar to last weeks Yellow-collared Scape Moth, this moth is about half the size and holds its wings away from the body while resting.

Desmia Complex
Forewing 12mm
There are two species represented in this complex; D. funeralis and D. maculalis.  At one time white scales on the head were thought to differentiate the two, but that is currently in dispute.  All of my sources say that the two cannot be distinguished from a photograph.

Obtuse Euchlaena - Euchlaena obtusaria (#6726)
Forewing: 25mm
The deeply serrated hindwing and dark marks near the tip of the forewing are diagnostic for this species.

Ailanthus Webworm Moth - Atteva aurea (#2401)
Forewing: 12mm
Also reported in Zones 1,2,3,4,5,6
This unique moth can often be found nectaring during the day; I have found them frequently on Goldenrods.

Faint-spotted Palthis - Palthis asopialis (#8398)
Forewing: 12mm
Also reported in Zones 3,6

Maple Callous Borer - Synanthedon acerni (#2554)
Also reported in Zone 6
This little moth has a strong and direct flight, moving back and forth while hovering much like a hummingbird,  but with the little fringe on its tail it looks more like a flying shrimp. 

Blinded Sphinx - Paonias excaecata (#7824)
Forewing: 35mm

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Week 12: Yellow-collared Scape Moth

Moth of the Week
Yellow-collared Scape Moth - Cisseps fulvicollis (#8267)
Forewing: 16mm
Also reported in Zones 3,5,6

     Moths are an amazingly diverse family.  They range from only a few millimeters in length up to 12 inches long.  They come in every color imaginable: red, green, pink, blue, irridescent.  Some you would never even guess were moths.  One family, Sesiidae, are incredible wasp mimics; several look almost identical to hornets. Several species of Sphinx moths are often confused for hummingbirds especially as they tend to visit hummingbird feeders around dusk.  The Yellow-collared Scape Moth actually appears much like a beetle. 

Other Moths this Week:
Waved Sphinx - Ceratomia undulosa (#7787)
Forewing: 45mm
Also reported in Zones 3,4,5,6
According to this is one of the most common Sphinx moths.

American Lady - Vanessa virginiensis
Also reported in Zones 1,2,3,4,5,6
   While the American Lady is not a "moth," taxonomically there is little difference between moths and butterflies.  In the order Lepidoptera there are approximately 30 Superfamilies represented in the United States.  Butterflies comprise 2 of those families; Hesperioidea (Skippers) and Papilionoidea (Butterflies).  The remaining 28 families are lumped together as "moths."
     This American Lady gets included because she was attracted to our porchlight one night.  Butterflies are generally diurnal creatures; however, I suppose they occassionally sleepfly.

Joyful Holomolina - Virbia laeta (#8114)
Forewing: 8mm
When you first see this moth sitting with its wings folded it really doesn't look like much.  A small almost entirely black moth.  However, as soon as it takes flight you can't miss the brilliant flash of red as it flits to and for around the lights.

Walnut Sphinx - Amorpha juglandis (#7827)
Forewing: 30mm
Also reported in Zones 3,4,5

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Week 11: The Wedgeling

Moth of the Week

The Wedgeling - Galgula Partita (#9688)
Forewing: 12mm
Also reported in Zones 3,5,6

  While birding I have become familiar with the acronym LBJs (Little Brown Jobs) for those drab and relatively unmarked critters that flit out of the bushes and dive back in before you get a chance for a really solid look.  In winter moths they are just about all LBJ's.  The one advantage is that many times they will sit still long enough for you to get a decent look.

  This particular LBJ has been quite common at my porch light since about mid-November.  With a forewing measuring a mere 12mm it is on the small end for a Noctuoidea moth.  Even though the coloring of the wings is highly variable, anywhere from a light tan to a deep maroon, the dark spots located on the costal margin has, thus far, been diagnostic.

Other Moths This Week:

Withered Mocis - Mocis marcida (#8744)
Forewing: 24mm
Also reported in Zones 3,6

This species is distinguished from the other Mocis moth because the red PM line does not extend all the way to the inner margin of the forewing.

Large Necklace Moth - Hypsoropha monilis (#8527)
Forewing: 20mm
Also reported in Zone 5

White-dotted Prominent - Nadata gibbosa (#7915)
Forewing: 25mm
Also reported in Zone 5

Rosy Maple - Dryocampa rubicunda (#7715)
Forewing: 20mm

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Week 10: Midget Moths

Moths of the Week
This week the moths have started coming out in force; several species in one family have been particularly evident this week, Midget Moths.  These small moths are generally boldly marked and tend to rush into the house whenever we open the door.  Looking at they appear to be widespread and fairly common across much of the Southeast.

Grateful Midget - Elaphria grata (#9684)
Forewing: 11mm
Also reported from Zone 3 

Festive Midget - Elaphria festivoides (#9681)
Forewing: 14mm
Also reported in Zone 3

George's Midget - Elaphria georgei (#9680)
Forewing: 11mm
Also reported in Zone 5

Southern Pine Looper - Caripeta aretaria (#6869)
I have seen this Geometridae a few times over the past few years so I was surprised to read that it is considered rare or threatened across much of their range.  The bold yellow costa on the forewing separates this from similar species in this family.
Forewing:  22mm

False Underwing - Allotria elonympha (#8721)
This species has a single, even black border on the hindwing.
Forewing: 20mm

Light Marathyssa - Marthyssa basalis (#8956)
I was excited to find one of these on our window.  I hope to find a whole lot more since the larva eat poison ivy.  The forewings of Marathyssa moths are pleated and fold up while at rest giving the species in this family a unique silhouette.
Forewing: 15mm
Also reported from Zone 3

Spanish Moth - Xanthopastis timais (#10640)
From the first time I ran across this one on, I have been hoping to find one.  A pink moth with an afro, unmistakable.
Forewing: 20mm
Also reported from Zone 6

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.