Monday, July 23, 2012

Amidst The Creatures Of The Night

As daylight ebbed and darkness crept in, we eagerly awaited the creatures of the night to emerge. Sounds like a line out of a horror story, but actually quite the opposite! I am referring to an impromptu evening of "Mothing" at Wahkeena Nature Preserve.

The members of this nature-loving group were Dennis Profant, Jim McCormac, Robin Wright-Strauss, Tom Shisler, Roger Grossenbacher,  and Alex Webb. My husband and I throughly enjoyed the company and expertise of this fine group of professionals.

The black, moonless evening and the harmonious ensemble of cicadas and katydids in the surrounding dense shrubbery seemed to set the stage; enticing those of the silent and secret Lepidopteran kingdom to revealing themselves. Well, maybe it was actually the mercury vapor light and the white sheets that beckoned the moths from their hiding! Whatever the attraction, we had a plethora of winged activity that caused many ooh's and aah's for a few hours. The surprises we saw that evening were well worth the heat, humidity and sweat we had to endure!

Photographs are important for identification purposes, but I always enjoy the ones taken at eye level that brings to life the individuality of these beautiful moths. This allows the viewer to appreciate and admire their beauty and charisma.

I think a good title for the picture of the Rosy Maple Moth (Dryocampa rubicunda) in the picture below is "Cotton Candy on a Stick"! I really love these fuzzy, colorful guys!

Another of my very favorites is the Sphinx Moth. Below are the Blinded Sphinx Moth (Paonias excaecatus) and the Poplar Sphinx Moth (Pachysphinx occidentalis). They are so friendly and will easily allow you to handle them. The Blinded Sphinx Moth has gorgeous colors and the Poplar Sphinx Moth is magnificent in size and character.

Here is another view of the Blinded Sphinx Moth on the end of my finger. He eagerly climbed aboard!

This is the Poplar Sphinx Moth. This was the first time I've had the opportunity to experience this species. I was seduced by him right away!

This next little beauty is the Beautiful Wood Nymph Moth (Eudryas grata). Such a unique shape. His coloration and the way he rests on a leaf resembles bird poo. This is a survival tool for this species. Personally, I think he looks like a winged calico cat!

 There were many more species that graced our presence that night, but these were among my personal favorites. One last surprise that evening was that of a tiny Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris). He seemed to be quietly observing our antics from his poplar leaf. Sure made for a nice picture!

I'm looking forward to attracting, observing, photographing and most of all appreciating more of our huge diversity of moth species, in light of National Moth Week, July 23-29.