Posts Tagged 'moths'

Insects of the Weekend

IMG_6273A mess of these sand wasps (Bembicini) were trying to dig into the little beach along the Hudson by Ossining train station. Sand seemed too loose, though, for their nest chambers.harvestmanMoth Night at the Greenbelt Nature Center with the Staten Island Museum on Saturday meant more than moths. This harvestman (Opiliones) has little red mites attached to its legs. Orthosoma brunneumBrown Prionid beetle (Orthosoma brunneum), I think. About 1.25″ long.IMG_6329A camel cricket, family Rhaphidophoridae. Not one of the noise-makers, this tree cricket is a great jumper; we found several on trunks (I rotated this image; the cricket was facing down initially). Its antenna are nearly three times the body length.Epimecis hortariaIt’s National Moth Week, which may be something of a hard sell. Most moths, after all, are modest studies in gray. The showy ones, like the Luna, are few and far between, especially in the city. A white sheet with black lights was set up, as was a trough of “moth bait,” a gooey sludge of banana, booze, and brown sugar allowed to fester in the sun for a while. Both of these attract different species. The Tulip-tree Beauty (Epimecis hortaria) above didn’t come directly to either, but roosted in the area.Lomographia vestaliataWhite Spring Moth (Lomographia vestaliata).moth1Toothed Brown Carpet (Xanthorhoe lacustrata). There are some 12,000 know species of Lepidoptera in the U.S. & Canada; less than 800 of these are butterflies; the rest moths, and I guess they ran out of common names…

Bagged

PsychidaeOn a young Baldcypress in a still-industrial stretch of Plymouth Street: several of these bag worm cocoons. These are the egg cases of a Psychidae family moth. From a distance they look like cones or some other part of the tree itself. Small twigs are glued onto the surprisingly, or, actually, not so surprisingly, tough cocoon silk. These are, after all, supposed to survive winter, predators, and enraged arborists.

Exclamation

Pyrrharctia isabella

Ant, Wing

An ant wrestles with a lepidoptera wing. ant3ant2An aerodynamic challenge.

British Bugs

A selection of the insects spotted on my Dartmoor walk, most of which I can’t identify, so if you know ‘em, holler below in the comments.Calopteryx virgoThis one was easy to look up. (And be sure to click on the image to get a closer look at the wings.) There are only two damselfly species with colored wings over there. This is the (obviously) Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo), even though this is the male of the species. I found this one in Lustleigh’s small park.wingsSeveral days later I came across just the wings of this species at Dartmeet. I wonder what the story here was?Calopteryx splendensThis, seen also in Lustleigh, is the female Banded Damoiselle (Calopteryx splendens), the other colored-wing species.beetles2

lepi1

truebug

moth

Pyrrhosoma nymphulaLarge Red Damselflys (Pyrrhosoma nymphula), mating at the pond at Yarner Woods. Props to the British Dragonfly Society for ID help on the odes. Feel free to throw in your two pence worth of ID help for the rest of these. Vanessa atalantaBut you need no introduction to the circumpolar Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta).combAnt working on some kind of comb, in the middle of the path.

Giant Caterpillar in the Night

Hypercompe scriboniaTraci spotted this big, burly, bristly 2.5″ caterpillar Saturday night. It was crossing the mowed median between Flatbush Ave. and the bicycle path at Floyd Bennett Field. As we approached, the ‘pillar rose up, its deep black eyes alert to hominid danger. Evidently, if we’d attempted to touch it, it would have rolled into a head-to-tail circle of spikes, but it isn’t otherwise toxic/allergic, as some of the hairy ones are. Hypercompe scriboniaThis is the caterpillar of the Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia). Some of the red intersegmental rings are visible here. I used a combination of the camera flash and Nate’s flashlight for these shots.

This critter, which over-wintered in this form (where, by Godwin?), was not heading towards Flatbush Ave (quite the opposite, in fact), a gauntlet of infernal combustion-driven death, so we just let it go on its way. It’s a nocturnal feeder, “broadly polyphagous” (hey, moi aussie!) according to David L. Wagner’s Caterpillars of Eastern North America. The leopard-patterned adult moth looks quite handsome. I’ve never seen one before. This was a first time for the caterpillar, too. The night is full of surprises.

Wooly

Pyrrharctia isabellaThe familiar caterpillar of the Isabella Tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella), better known as the Wooly Bear. We usually run into these in the fall, around the time of the first frosts, often crossing the road. (Why did the Wooly Bear cross the road?) But they have several generations a year on the East Coast, and this inch-long specimen may be the first of the spring. Or it could be one that has over-wintered.

As with all elaborately patterned caterpillars, the coloring here suggests this might not be so good for you. Warning, warning! Caterpillars not so defensive opt for camouflage. Some people are allergic to the hairs, or setae, of this species.

Seen earlier this week on Lover’s Lane, Nantucket. Why did the Wooly Bear cross Lover’s Lane?

December moth

mothA mild night, and the outside light brought in these moths. The flash overexposed this one, creating the ghosts on the double paned sliding door.moth2Not enough light on this one, but check out the barbs on the rear set of legs.

It was unusually warm last week, in the last month of what has turned out to be the hottest year in American history. I saw butterflies and a bat, and heard the plop of frogs hurrying to cover as I approached.

Ailanthus Webworm

I was working my way up to taking a picture of the Ailanthus sapling that appeared this summer in a crack in the concrete in the Back 40. I was looking forward to a tree growing in Brooklyn, at least until the landlord saw it. But the Ailanthus Webworms got to it before I did. And they did a number on it. Atteva aurea is another of the communal caterpillar species who cover their handiwork in silk.

This is the adult moth:
Ailanthus altissima is of course a tree native to China. The moth seems to be native to Florida and the tropics; it has adopted to using the tree as a host plant for its larvae.

Life Cycles in Brooklyn Bridge Park

The rare Two-spotted lady beetles (Adalia bipunctata) I discovered in July are still active in Brooklyn Bridge Park. In fact:“Houston, we have coition.” Luckily, I didn’t learn about reproduction from Republicans, so I know that this kind of activity leads to:Lady beetle eggs. I assume Two-spotted, but don’t know for sure.A recently emerged adult, whose markings and coloring will soon develop.

And continuing on the theme of life cycles:Fall Webworms (Hyphantria cunea) have broken out, formed silken webs, and are skeletonizing their hosts inside the webs.This defoliator is sometimes confused with Gypsy Moths and Eastern Tent caterpillars, who also make communal silk nests in trees. The Fall Webworm can make a tree look fairly ghastly but isn’t very dangerous because it strikes in the fall, when the trees are at the end of their leaf cycle. Brooklyn Bridge Park tends to leave “pests” like this alone because they will attract other species, including predators. Indeed, the aphid infestation on the catalpas probably lured in the Two-spotted lady beetles. H. cunea, meanwhile, has been called a “parasitoid hotel” because it is parasitized by more than fifty species of wasps and flies.

When I poked my camera lens in for the close-ups, the caterpillars outside the nest started wagging in unison, a characteristic of the species. It’s the dance sensation sweeping the nation: the “Funky Caterpillar.”


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