Friday, May 4, 2012

Moths at the light

With the publication of the new Petersons Moth Field Guide I have been inspired to turn my porch light on again and photograph the critters that show up. I thought I had photos of just about every possibility since I had been doing this for several years but I was surprised to see a few new moths.
This one is a Schlaeger’s Fruitworm Moth (Antaeotricha schlaegeri) and its larvae feed on White Oaks so it was no real surprise since I have a very big White Oak in my yard. Since some moth mimic bird-dropping I think I should start investigating bird poop when I see it on tree limbs. In the past it has been something I have pretty much ignored but I can see now it has possibilities for finding other moths with similar habits. I knew about some of caterpillars that used that strategy but I didn’t realize that moths used it as well. So I guess the lesson is if you look like shit then just tell your friends it’s your strategy for blending in and not getting eaten alive.

This next moth was frantically flying and wouldn’t stand still for anything but I did manage to get a blurry photo. In flight it looked bright red but once I looked at the photo I could see variation and some pattern. I submitted it to BAMONA (Butterflies and Moths of North America) and it was identified as Pyrrhia expimens (Purple-Lined Sallow).

Here is another one I caught almost in flight as it landed on the screen door. It is a Bilobed Looper (Megalographa biloba), in the family Noctuidae.

Actias luna (Luna Moth) is always a welcome sight at my porch light. The tail on this one looked a little shorter than some that have visited in the past. Speaking of Luna and moon things The moon will be closest to the earth Saturday, and it will be a full moon, so it should be much brighter than usual. It is a supermoon.

Another large moth that showed up was Virginia Creeper Sphnix Moth (Darapsa myron) Most sphnix moths don't come to lights but I have seen this species on my porch before. The best way to see sphnix moths is to set out a moth bait. This year I am trying a combination of bannana and apples. First I freeze the fruit and then when it defrosts in a closed container it ferments. So far I haven't had any takers.

It was getting late in the evening so I decided to turn the light out but I had to have one last look to satisfy my moth addiction. And lo and behold there was a HUGH spider on the wall. Now I’ve seen these Wolf Spiders before but I have to say they can catch me off guard. This was obviously a female with egg sac in tow. Look closely at the sac to see how it is seamed together and how it is attached to the spinnerets. Wolf spiders are very protective their young. Once these eggs have hatched the young spiderlings will attach themselves to the fine hairs on the mothers abdomen and ride around until they are able to fend for themselves. The hairs are just barely visible in this photo.

I just never know what is going to show up.

1 comment:

Jackie C said...

Oh my goodness!! Your moth (etc.) photos are gorgeous. Ever since I saw the art work of a photographer who took photos of moths and then enlarged them to a great degree (so that one could see the most minute details on its body) I, too, have been fascinated by them. They are gorgeous! Thank you for your patient work!! Your blog is looking beautiful, by the way!