Thursday, May 26, 2011

Marvelous Moths

As I was walking along a path in the woods the other evening, I discovered a very pretty brown moth that was destined to be the spotlight of my next blog.  He had fluttered silently past me and seemed to disappear. Upon closer inspection I found he had simply landed on the bark up under a fallen log, blending perfectly into his surroundings. I tried many different painful positions to get a good angle for a picture, and finally ended up just lying on my belly, lens pointing up. Now comes the funny story...As I was taking pictures, while simultaneously swatting mosquitoes, I heard some strange noises. As I looked behind me I could see three very wide-eyed, curious deer watching me through the brush. I'm sure they were trying to figure out what in the world I was doing wallowing around in the leaves and sticks, muttering to myself! Then, over my right shoulder, I caught sight of the biggest fox squirrel I've ever seen stretched out on a limb, also watching me and appearing amused. The sounds he was making almost sounded like he was chuckling. I swear, for a minute I felt just like Snow White in the enchanted forest! I would not have been surprised if 7 dwarfs would have come skipping down the path! The deer and squirrel remained close by as I continued my moth photo shoot.

 I am pretty this moth is a Barberry Geometer (Coryphista Meadii), family Geometridae. He is definitely a realy beauty with the deep, rich browns, wavy patterns and deeply scalloped wing edges.

This next little beauty is a Yellow Slant-lined Moth (Tetracis-crocallata), also in the family Geometridae. This particular one is more of a buff color, with tiny brown speckles and a brown line on the forewing that continues onto the hindwing. He was on a leaf amongst some  low-growing foliage and his shape and color contrast caught my eye. Very pretty!

This next moth is so cool! It is the Plume Moth (family Pterophoridae). This family is very distinctive and easily recognized, but individual species can be very challenging since there are over 140 different ones. This moth has a characteristic "T-shape" or "airplane posture". They actually resemble the grasses that they are hiding in, and can go unnoticed. This particular one never moved as I took pictures. I think he looks kind of comical!

Here is a different plume moth-I love these guys!

Here is a moth I saw resting on a rock formation that I can't identify. I just don't know enough about the field marks to make a positive ID. I'll keep researching. He is very pale and very pretty-very good camouflage on the texture of the rock.

Large Lace Border Moth (Scopula limboundata) 
The common name perfectly describes the pretty markings on this moth.

I'm trying my hand at hanging a sheet with a black light to attract moths. We are in the middle of town, but I've gotten a few interesting moths (at least to me since I am new to this hobby). I believe this one is the Common Armyworm Moth ( Mythimna unipuncta).

I really love the pattern on this Pale Tiger Moth (Halysiodata tessellaris). The coloration is so beautiful and the texture of his wings resembles linen. One thing I dislike about taking pictures at night with a light and sheet are that you cannot capture the beauty of the moth from the front. I always love to get an angle that captures the amazing beauty of the eyes and face.

A closeup of the Ipsilon Dart Moth (Agrotis ipsilon). I was not able to get a good shot of the wings from above, but I'm sure he will be back soon. I love his color and texture!

Dot-lined White Moth (Artace cribraria)

After tucking in his antennae...

This little golden one is the Beggar Moth (Eubaphe mendica).  Such a delicate creature! The ones I've seen seem to be very skittish.

This one is the Three-spotted Fillip Moth (Heterophleps triguttaria). I've seen lots of these throughout the foliage along the paths in the woods.

This Pale Gray Bird Dropping Moth (Antaeotricha schlaegeri) has an excellent camouflage! I seriously would have overlooked it as tiny bird doo doo, but I am getting better at spotting these clever little critters! This one seemed to be resting quite comfortably. There is also an almost identical species, Antaeotricha leucillana. The leucillana's tuft is usually more of a paler brown instead of dark, and it is also about a third smaller than the schlaegeri. I guess this could be either, but I'm only going by the tuft color, which was very dark. This is the first one I've seen so I cannot make a comparison either by size or color of tuft. 

The Long-horned Fairy Moth (Adela caeruleella) is quite small, but with very long antennaes. Depending on the angle of light, the wings can appear dark, or with very colorful metallic accents. I only had a brief second for a couple of photos, then *poof* she was gone, just like Tinkerbell!

Ahhh, such a beauty to the human eye, although to a predator this is another moth whose camouflage is to roll up his wings to make himself look like bird droppings! The actual name of this moth is the Beautiful Wood-nymph Moth (Eudryas grata). It is in the Family Noctuidae, the largest family in the Lepidoptera. This one is at rest and he really didn't mind my walking around him taking a few photos. He will most likely not move from this resting spot until after dark, when this species becomes active. I would love to see one with the wings spread out; they have such beautiful colors and patterns.

This moth is in the Family geometridae. It is most likely the Promiscuous Angle Moth (Macaria promiscuata) Thank you, Roger, for correcting me! . They have an interesting dark brown spot pattern on each wing that reminds me of a paw print of a cat! I'll have to watch for them and get more pictures in the future to note the differences between the Promiscuous and the Common Angle Moth (Macaria aemulataria).

Below is the very secretive Leaf Folder Moth (Desmia maculalis). This micro moth is tiny and always wants to land upside-down on the underside of leaves. I've only seen a few of these little guys and always lose sight of them during the chase through the foliage. I see them flying low, fluttering around the grasses and leaves. The coloration of the white spots against the dark wings always catches my eye.

 False Crocus Geometer Moth (Xanthotype urticaria). The pattern on this one is lighter and a bit harder to distinguish than normal. These are very pretty moths!

The False Crocus Geometer Moth below, has a pattern that is much more distinguishable for this species.

This moth is in the family, Tortricidae. The rounded shoulders and squared tips of the forewings are a trait of this family of moths. This particular one is the Three-lined Leaf Roller Moth (Pandemis limitata).

This striking little moth is the Snowy Urola Moth (Urola nivalis).  I found
him resting on a plant right alongside the Delicate Cycthnia Moth  (pictured below the photos of the Snowy Urola Moth.)
A closer view of his face...

Here is a very pretty moth with creamy white wings and creamy yellow along the outer borders of wings and head. Thanks again to Roger Grossenbacher for helping me with the identification. This is a Delicate Cycthnia Moth (Cycnia tenera). BugGuide.Net states that the word "tenera" is a Latin word meaning "soft, tender, delicate". Such an accurate description of this beautiful creature!

A closer view of his face...

This is the Hollow-spotted Blepharomastix Moth (Blepharomastix ranalis)...Looks like he has Hershey's syrup drizzled over his wings. Well, that is not very scientific, but it may help me remember this moth in the future!

Unidentified micro moth....

Here is a neat micro moth-He was really tiny and while observing him I noticed he constantly worked his tail, which actually fooled you into thinking that end was the head! So cool to watch. He had very unique markings and from above, almost looks like a happy face! This is a Sedge Moth-most likely Glyphipterix circumscriptella
A little closer view...

Below, a unique bird's eye view that resembles a face...most likely a coloration that works to deter or confuse a predator.

This is the Spotted Thyris Moth (Thyris maculata). I'm amazed at their beauty, grace and tiny size!

Different angle...

The next two pictures below are the Grayish Zanclognatha Moth (Zanclognatha pedipilalis)


Below is the Confused Eusarca (Eusarca Confusaria). In my opinion, this moth resembles the Slant-line Moth except the Confused Eusarca has semi-circle markings on its shoulders. I think the Confused Eusarca is also similar in appearance to the Least Marked Euchlaena. There are so many species of moths that closely resemble other species--one of the challenges I enjoy!

These are the Virginian Tiger Moth (Spilosoma virginica) pictures I took last year. I wanted to include them with the rest of the moths. I loved observing this beautiful creature-I had disturbed him while cleaning up a brush pile in the yard and he flew to the grass and remained still as a furry statue! Absolutely gorgeous!

I was delighted to find that this  Eight-Spotted Forester (Alypia octomaculata) was on the side of my house above my flowers one morning. I love the bright orange tufts on his legs. Very beautiful!

Below is the White Spotted Sablemoth (Anania funebris). It is very similar in appearance to the Eight-Spotted Forester, but notice it does not have the orange tufts. It could easily be mistaken for a butterfly!

Note that earlier in this post I pictured a Grape Leaf Folder Moth, which is also very similar to this White Spotted Sable Moth.

Here is a moth with pretty browns and grays. It is the Six-spotted Gray Moth (Spargaloma sexpunctata). Notice the three very small spot-like marks forming a narrow triangle near the apex of each wing.
Here is a closer view.  (He reminds me of a dragon!)


  1. Thanks for the Tetracis id. Saved me some time on keying out three very similar species that I recently got pics of (in FL, NC & Taiwan). Figuring the species identities now ought to be a snap! LOL

  2. Lisa, you have a knack for photographing the most difficult of micros to identify! Let me help where I can.

    The bottom moth is the Spotted Thyris, Thyris maculata. It's a member of the Window-Winged Moths, and is commonly seen nectaring at flowers during the day.

    The little "white crescent moon" marked moth is a member of the Glyphipterigidae or Sedge Moths. They are stem boring moths. The genus is Diploschizia, and most species look alike.

    The dull brown moth above that is still a stumper to me. Based on the antennae, it may not be a moth at all, but a micro-caddisfly.

    The brown striped one above that is a Pyralidae. Another group full of look alikes. This may be a species of Blepharomastix.

    The Tortricid you picture may be an Archips, but purpurana is usually much DARKER. This may be in the genus Pandemis.

    Love your shots of the Fairy Moth, one of the most primitive of all the Lepidoptera.


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