Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gearing up for Moth Week - UPDATED ALREADY! AGAIN!

AB and I got to house-sit at a place just outside of town, one where I first saw some great moths a few years ago and posted the results here. This year, the place didn't disappoint, and Gretchen was there to share in the goodies.

First, here are the pics with sometimes specific but often times general identifications of varying confidence levels:

This beautifully marked individual is some kind of ... um ... yeah, I have no idea. It's probably a common moth. Help? Some kind of cutworm or dart moth? The shape is right; I think the coloring and white glowy parts are simply enhanced by the flash. UPDATE: Thanks to the always reliable John Beetham of DC Birding Blog, I now know the first moth is The Wedgling (Galgula partita). I have noticed that some moths have cool common names like "The Wedgling" or "Once-married Underwing." Crazy, no?

Not a good sign that I blanked on the first one. Here's a better one:

I like the little fur coat this moth appears to be wearing, though the photo isn't so great. That fur coat and furry legs, along with the general shape, indicates that this moth is perhaps a Prominent moth belonging to the Notodontidae, but it might also be a Tussock moth (Lymantriinae). This moth ID business is tricky! So much for that one being better. One more try:

Ah, an easy ID:
I've seen this fellow before, a Banded Tussock Moth, or Halysidota tessellaris. Here's another photo:
I didn't really capture the green on his back, but it's there. This individual is either pale or just kind worn. Like birds and butterflies, moths get worn and their colors fade and wings fray. That's life in the air, I guess.

The next three photos are of the same strikingly white moth:
I would say that this is/might be a Geometridae of some sort, but I can't find a good match there. Perhaps a White Spring Moth Lomographa vestaliata?

Oy vey.
This little Crambid snout moth (family Crambidae) has lovely faint markings that are pretty invisible in this awful photo. At this point in the night, I'd seen about a zigillion of these little guys, all slightly different from one another, but all long and skinny and snouty. I was getting tired, and the mosquitoes were getting fat on my blood.

Generic brown/gray guy here is perhaps a... uh... yeah, I have no clue. I mean, these guys just all look alike.

Look at the cool patterning on this guy:

Sorry for the crap photo; every time I tried to focus on him, he would scoot along, walking really fast. Then he'd stop, I'd get the camera up to him and zoom! He's tiny, maybe a half-inch long. There are soooooooo many little moths out there, less than an inch long. My ID book (which is very scientific-y and, in my opinion, hard to use -- I think because birding fieldguides are so easy to use), Covell's Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (Virginia Museum of Natural History Special Publican Number 12) calls them "micros." This one was micro. UPDATE! Thanks to this wonderful site, I was able to ID this moth as a Cream-bordered Dichomeris (Dichomeris flavocostella).

This green beauty

is a Pandora Sphinx Moth, or Eumorpha pandoris. This is a definite on the ID!

This one held his wings up like this, like a butterfly, while I photographed him; he then took off, never to be seen again.
No clue what he is. He was small, maybe a half-inch.

This shapely individual appears to have laid eggs ??? on the surface next to him (her?):

Are those in fact little moth eggs? I believe this is a Prominent moth of some sort, based on the shape.

It was difficult to capture this moth's coloring, which was a slightly blue tinge, because he was up so high:
but you can see some of it on the trailing edges of his wings.

Now THIS guy is crazy:
I think this is a Grape Plume Moth (Geina periscelidactylus).

This slightly orange moth
is a Pale Enargia Enargia decolor (I think). Then again, it could be something else. Look at the subtle patterning on his wings. And again, he has a little wooly jacket.

Speaking of wooly jackets, look at this Snow Queen:
It's not really called a Snow Queen; I think it's a Virginia Tiger Moth? I didn't see her abdomen to see if it was striped like the Virginia Tiger Moth's is, and it doesn't have the tiny black spots that this one does. It's got to be some kind of tiger moth, no? John chips in and says it could be a Pink-legged Tiger Moth. I didn't see the legs, sad to say.

I like the way this moth has his antennae slicked back:
But I have no clue what it is. John, of course, does: Celery Leaftier, or Udea rubigalis. Natch. Does he eat celery?

Okay, by now, I'm bleary-eyed with the gray/brown/white-patterned moths....
John says a pyralid. I agree.

This little shimmery guy

has so many field marks: the little snout nose, the faint barring on the wings, the little glowing white specks on the trailing edges, and are those second-from-the-front legs GIGANTIC or what?John says some kind of pyralid, which helps narrow it down. Will need to look at more photos on the ID sights.

The four brown spots and the little dotted striping on this individual look like those of a Lesser Maple Spanworm Moth, or Speranza pustularia:
I googled "white moths," and this one stood out for the four brown spots and the faint striping on the forewings.

Now this guy, I've drawn a blank on. You would think that it'd be easy with those crazy-long antennae. Perhaps another crambid. Or not. Ah, John says this is a caddisfly! Not a moth at all! What, you ask, IS a caddisfly? Read about them here! Apparently, anglers know all about them.

I appreciate this gentleman's (or woman's) efforts to show me every bit of his/her delicate beauty:

but it helped me not in the identification. He's just so generically gray!

This little black fellow IS a moth, isn't he?
And my mothing group said this is also a caddisfly!

A rather worn Geometrid species:

Another little snout-nosed moth:
Man, that's a lot of moths! And that was just from the first night!

Gretchen found a neat moth group in facebook, called mothing and moth-watching. I've already gotten help on an ID there within a few minutes! I suppose it would be rude to post every moth I've got in my bag, though....

More moths to come!


Rabbits' Guy said...

Uh - yeh. And here I always thought moths were for shooing outside or rattling in the lampshade!

John Beetham said...

You're on the right track with a lot of them so far. The best online resource for IDing moths is the Moth Photographers Group, which has photographs of thousands of moth species. Unfortunately it is time-consuming to page through the plates, but you do learn the moth groups that way.

Some IDs:
-The first moth is The Wedgling (Galgula partita). I've had it a number of times in my yard.
- The "Snow Queen" could be a Pink-legged Tiger Moth, related to the Virginia Tiger.
- The one below the "Snow Queen" is a Celery Leaftier.
- The second moth below that is some sort of pyralid.
- The second insect below that is a caddisfly, not a moth.

I usually end up with a batch of unidentified moths from each mothing session. As I've gained experience, those batches have been getting smaller, but there are still some that stubbornly remain unidentified.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

What fun! We have been getting more interested in moths up at Hasty this year. It's a whole new direction. I never knew they were so diverse!

dguzman said...

Rabbits' Guy--turns out they're way harder than birds!

John--I did find that page, but you're right - it's not easy. But it IS comprehensive! Thanks for the help! I will add your updates.

Lynne--you should take pics! Good to hear from you again. Hope you and Art are well.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Caddis Fly - old memories! As a kid we lived in NW lower Michigan along Grand Traverse Bay and had a gas-station/bait&Tackle/gift shop. My job in the summer was to open up at 7:00am. In mid June the whole outside wall facing the water would be filled with caddis flys - hatched the night before. I swept them off by the bazillions! Trout love them!