Saturday, April 28, 2012

Week 17: Zales

Moth of the Week: Zales

On Tuesday night the Zales made a flight; when I stepped out to check the porchlight I was bombarded by them.  By Wednesday morning I counted  more than 40 of these large moths hanging around our porchlight: on the walls, on the steps, even in the trashcans.  The Zales are a large and rather challenging group of moths due to the extreme variation of the colors and patterns. 

The Lunate Zale (Zale lunata) is the largest and most common Zale species in our area.  Z. lunata is generally dark overall with heavy barring across the back.
Forewing: 24mm

This specimen shows large clean patches on the forewing.  I believe the is Z. lunata but am not ruling out Colorful Zale (Zale minerea) due to my lack of experience with this species.  There are approximately 14 species of Zale possible in East Texas and there is a lot of overlap in pattern and coloring between them.
Forewing: 18mm
This individual stood out from the rest due to its smaller size overall and the extensive white in the wings.  I have tentatively labeled this specimen as Double-banded Zale (Zale calycanthata) but am waiting on confirmation.

Other Moths This Week:

Melsheimer's Sack-bearer Moth - Cicinnus melsheimeri (#7662)
Forewing: 20mm

White-lined Sphinx - Hyles lineata (#7894)
Forewing: 33mm
Also reported in Zones 1,2,3,4,5,6

Indomitable Melipotis - Melipotis indomita (#8600)
Forewing: 24mm
Also reported in Zones 1,3,4,5,6
This is the most common and wide spread Melipotis moth in the state.

Not a Moth (but still relevant)
One of my fellow teachers brought me the big hairy fly and asked if it was dangerous.  I haven't studied flies much (at all), but figured I'd give it a shot.  In a relatively short time I was able to narrow it down to Archytas sp. a family of flies common in fields and pastures across most of North America.  The larva of these flies are parasitoids of caterpillars.  They will lay eggs on the caterpillar and while the caterpillar is in the cocoon the fly larva will feed on the caterpillar and when the cocoon finally opens, surprise it's a fly.

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