Moth Week Plus

I’ve always preferred moths to butterflies. They aren’t flashy or cocky; they mind their own business and just try to blend in with their surroundings and live their lives.

~Kayla Krantz

National Moth Week ended yesterday and I managed to miss most of it for a variety of lame reasons. But, even though I failed to put out my moth light (which is at work for summer camp use), I did manage to find some cool moths hanging  out at lights or ones I flushed from their hiding place as I went about my work. With your permission, I’m going to cheat a little and present a few that I photographed outside the official moth week window. The group includes several that are new to me and several that meant more because I have photographed their larval forms in the past. So, get outside and look around, the beauty and variety of moths is astounding!

I found several large sphinx moths (most sphinx larvae are known as hornworms due to a prominent tail spike). They are the fighter jets in the moth world, typically with a sleek shape and rapid flight.

Plebian sphinx

Plebian sphinx, Paratrea plebeja (also known as the trumpet vine sphinx) (click photos to enlarge)

Pawpaw sphinx

Pawpaw sphinx, Dolba hyloeus

Rustic sphinx with finger for scale

Rustic sphinx, Manduca rustica

It was also a good week for the underwings, so named because they tend to have bright colors on their hind wings that are only revealed when they open their forewings (this may serve as a predator avoidance aid when flashed).

Clouded underwing

Clouded underwing, Catocala nebulosa

Ilia underwing on tree trunk

Ilia underwing, Catocala ilia (also known as Beloved underwing or Wife underwing – photographed on tree trunk to show their wonderful camouflage)

Penitent underwing, Catocala platrix

Penitent underwing, Catocala piatrix

Saddled prominent moth, Heterocampa guttivitta

Saddled prominent moth, Heterocampa guttivitta

It was a good week for little green moths…

Red-fringed emerald,

Red-fringed emerald, Nemoria bistriaria

Red-bordered emerald, Nemoria lixaria

Red-bordered emerald, Nemoria lixaria

Bad-wing moth, Dyspteris abortivaria

Bad-wing moth, Dyspteris abortivaria (love this name)

Spun glass slug moth, Isochaetes beutenmuelleri

Spun glass slug moth, Isochaetes beutenmuelleri (I really want to find this one’s caterpillar – look it up and you’ll see why)

Ailanthus webworm moth

Ailanthus webworm moth, Atteva aurea, a colorful day-flying moth, often seen pollinating various wildflowers

Rosy maple moth

Rosy maple moth, Dryocampa rubicunda, one of our most beautiful, and common, moths

Zale? gray-banded or obliqua?

Gray-banded OR Oblique zale, Zale sp.

Brown-shaded gray?

Brown-shaded gray, Iridopsis defectaria

Maple zale moth, Zale galbanata

Maple zale moth, Zale galbanata

Plain Plume Moth, Hellinsia homodactylus

Plain Plume Moth, Hellinsia homodactylus (the plume moths are among the strangest looking moths!)

The biggest surprise was a rather innocuous-looking little moth found outside one of the entryways to the office. As is often the case, a close-up image showed some beautiful patterns and subtle colors that I might have otherwise missed. But the shocker came when I identified it and saw its name – Wasp Parasitizer. That’s right, this little moth lays its eggs on paper wasp nests and its larvae consume the larvae and pupae of the wasps! The natural world, literally just outside our doors, is truly amazing.

Wasp parasitizer, Chalcoela pegasalis

Wasp parasitizer, Chalcoela pegasalis


2 thoughts on “Moth Week Plus

  1. Happy Moth Week a bit late! Those are wonderful photos. Don’t know how you found the moth on the tree trunk. One really has to slow down and look so carefully! Thanks for the (always) interesting photos Mike.

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