Observations re weather: We noticed that the humidity really affected the number of moths we got at the light/sheet setup as well as on the porch. It was terribly humid on Tuesday night and we got very few moths (under ten in a couple of hours, both at my place and at Gretchen's). We had rain on Wednesday and Friday, which meant no moths.
Observations re setup: We tried a black light as well as a super-clear white light, and we had mixed results. The black light was effective for some moths, but we had the bulb in a clamping utility light, uncovered, and we had several moths who merely touched the bulb and promptly died. That bulb was HOT. We then covered it with a large glass baking dish, which helped. We need to figure out a different set-up for that bulb. We ended up trying just the white light after that, and we got excellent results. We put up a white cloth (I took a tip from fellow moth-er and birder Joe Verica and bought a couple yards of white cotton, which was cheaper than a white sheet) in front of the lights and got great great photos.
Observations re camera/photography: Gretchen and I both have the same model of camera and G found that the best results were achieved when we set the camera on macro (I set mine on "object") and backed away about a foot, sometimes using the flash when lighting was dim (at the porch light). We got some great shots, some of which appear below.
Painted Lichen Moth with wings slightly open
Elegant Grass-veneer Moth Microcrambus elegans
(Left to right) Lesser Grapevine Looper (not Grapeleaf Looper -- my memory for these moth names is terrible!), Lesser Maple Spanworm, and Painted Lichen moths
Baltimore Snout Hypena baltimoralis
either a Locust or a Habilis Underwing - probably a Locust?
Here's the view of the underside of his wings -- isn't he amazing?
There's a little moth I can't ID behind him.
Dark-spotted Palthis Palthis angulatis
I believe this is a Pink-masked Pyralid Moth Aglossa disciferalis
Double-banded Grass-veneer Crambus agitatellus - I think!
Pepper-and-salt Geometer, I think. Biston betularia
Arched Hooktip Moth Drepana arctuata
Three-spotted Fillip Heterophleps triguttaria
False Crocus Geometer Xanthotype urticaria
Bilobed Looper Megalographa biloba
NOT a Packard's Wave Moth Cyclophora packardi, but a Sweetfern
Geometer Cyclophora pendulinaria
Geometer Cyclophora pendulinaria
Mint-loving Pyrausta Pyrausta actionalis
Slant-lined Owlet Moth Macrochilo absorptalis
Wavy-lined Emerald Synchlora aerata
These are the moths about which I feel pretty confident on the IDs. If you have a correction, please leave it in the comments!
Tomorrow, I'll post the rest -- most of which I haven't yet identified, so I'll need some help on those. Moth ID is so much harder than bird ID, although I'm sure I felt the same level of difficulty when I was first beginning to bird as I do now, beginning to moth. I really like it, though, especially because the birding is a little slow right now. Fall migration is in the earliest stages now, with the first few sandpipers and shorebirds starting to come through. I've been super busy, finishing up at my current job and getting ready for our big move to Maine! (See the sidebar for the update on that)