Posts Tagged 'moths'

Some Moths

This pandemic year, I have spent an inordinate amount of time chasing little flutters arising erratically from the grass. By “chasing,” I mean inadvertently flushing a moth and then watching where it lands, usually close by. Above is a Velvetbean Caterpillar Moth (Anticarsia gemmatalis).
The ubiquitous Green Cloverworm Moth (Hypena scabra), posed against some Orange Hobnail Canker on a twig. This moth is quite variable, with much lighter versions.
Another regular sighting, Celery Leaftier Moth (Udea rubigalis).
Forage Looper (Caenurgina erechtea).
One of the Tortrix moths (genus Acleris), found on a column of a mausoleum. My Halloween costume, obviously: cloak of the Royal House of Acleris. Evidently, you can’t tell this genus apart without examining the genitalia. So moving right along:
Ailanthus Webworm Moth (Atteva aurea).
Yellow-collared Scape Moth
(Cisseps fulvicollis). These last two are apt to be seen gathering nectar during the day.

Sad Underwing

What a stupid common name for Catocala maestosa. This fabulous riot of patterning isn’t sad.
Methinks the guy who came up with a lot of the common names for our moths, especially the underwings — the Girlfriend, Sweetheart, Magdalen, Once-Married, Mother, Semirelict, Darling, Bride, Tearful, Widow, Obscure, Betrothed, Penitent — had some issues, as they say.

Almost two inches long. Saw it land out of the corner of my eye on the side of a tree a squirrel had just been clambering up. Perhaps it was riled and flushed out of more secure spot by the squirrel; there was a nice hole in a rotted knot just below it. Thought for a moment it might be a cicada because of the size. I wasn’t expecting this. In fact, it’s rare for Long Island. The species seems to be expanding its territory northwards as we become more tropical. This is now the only NYC record on iNaturalist.
Look at those tufty curls…

I’m afraid I’ve been worse-case-scenario type for a while now, so when I read “If anything, the impacts of climate change are proving to be worse than we predicted,” I feel like I’m already on that page. This from a new study on the growing layers of warm water in the oceans, which will “intensify tropical storms, disrupt fisheries, interfere with the ocean absorption of carbon and deplete oxygen.”

Moth O’clock

A White-speck Moth landed on my thigh, took to my palm, walked around to my arm, and then was coaxed onto a tree.

Raspberry Pyrausta Moth, stirred up as I walked by.
Dogwood Borer Moth. Just sitting there.

National Moth Week: Polyphemus

A one centimeter-long instar of the Polyphemus Moth on a white oak leaf in Green-Wood.
It’ll get bigger…the final instar can be 6cm long (about 2.5″).
If this survives all the vicissitudes, it will pupate and return next year as a large moth.

Found last winter: I think these are all Polyphemus cocoons.
From this summer: an egg.

Willow, white oak, and swamp white oak have been where I’ve found all these life stages.

Check out this time-lapse of a Monarch caterpillar pupating. The pupal casing is internal which is not something I understood until now.

Ok, but how does a Polyphemus larva wrap itself in leaves on the way to pupation?

Mite-y Cargo

A blue-form female Familiar Bluet, I think. About three blocks from the nearest water body. The edge of this parking lot was weedy– more recently every bit of greenery was removed. But it’s already sprouting back…
Anyway, the damselfly turned out to be laden with cargo. These red things are water mites, hitching a ride. This is an example of phoresy, “a symbiotic relationship in which one organism transports another organism of a different species.
And look here, on this Hypena genus moth. More parasitic mites!
More on moth mites.

Trump’s “acting” agency heads, like tennis player Chad Wolf at Homeland Security, are promising to nationalize the secret police tactics being used now in Portland, OR, where masked CBP troops are kidnapping people off the street. I was not being hyperbolic when I said CBP, an agency born of racism, is America’s version of the gestapo.

It can happen here. It is happening here.

More details.

Squash Vine Borer Moth

Wow! Nectaring on common milkweed, this moth is just a little bigger than a Western Honeybee.
Have you ever seen one? I never had until Friday.
You might know them from your zucchinis. The caterpillars of Melitta curcurbitae love to eat summer and winter squashes, but if this is your reward, perhaps a little homage is in order?

Note the clear hind wings. There are several other clearwing borers in the family Sesiidae. They’re diurnal bee/wasp mimics.

Also found flying during the day are the two clearwing sphinx moths in the family Sphingidae: Hummingbird Clearwing and the Snowberry Clearwing.

A Very Small Jelly Donut?

Spotted this small object on a swamp white oak leaf yesterday.
With help from iNaturalist and Tracks and Signs of Insects, I learned that it’s an egg of a Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus).
You may recall that I found a half dozen of the large cocoons of this species over the winter. I’ve seen several reports of adult moths being spotted around Brooklyn on iNaturalist, although I haven’t seen any myself. But they’re obviously finding each other…

Good to know another generation has a chance.

Discovery Week III

The Elegant Grass-veneer moth (Microcrambus elegans).Common and widespread.
The larvae feed on grasses. The adults flit about in the grass, stirred up by your footfall. This one leapt up onto a leaf to focus my attention.
Here’s what I think is a Double-banded Grass-Veneer (Crambus agitatellus), another grass-lover and photo-challenge. The fuzzy, brush-like fronts of these moths are labial palps, feeding organs.

Trump’s corruption knows no bounds. His dismantling of post-Watergate protections for his personal/family profit, and the Republican complicity in it all, are reviewed here. I know we’re all overwhelmed with this monstrosity, but it’s good to have the facts on the page. And while Bolton is an evil man, Barr’s DOJ seeking a temporary injunction on his book suggest he’s not lying. If only he had testified under oath! Not that the Republicans wouldn’t have changed their impeachment vote; that fix was in from the beginning. They’re riding this authoritarian nightmare for all they can get their paymasters.


Over the weekend I found four large silkworm cocoons. This one was hanging in an oak.
This one was on the ground. I turned it over to see the other side. Coin is just over an inch in diameter. There was an oak overhead….
Another in a willow oak (at perhaps half a mile’s distance from the first oak).
Another, same tree, higher up.

As it happens, this — the tree with the two suspended cocoons — is the same willow oak where I found one of these last year. The tree has at least three cocoons now. I spotted one of them attached to a vine in November.
It has since fallen to the ground, to blend in with the leaf litter in the bulwark of the tree.

Now, I think these are all from the big Polyphemus Moth, Antheraea polyphemus. Oak is one of their food plants. Falling to the ground seems a normal part of the wintering process. I must look into how the caterpillar manages to wrap leaves around its cocoon.

“Crime committed brazenly is over time redefined as something other than crime. It is entertainment, and then it is autocracy, and then it is too late.” Sarah Kendzior has been quite good on the Trump organized crime family and its Republican enablers, members, and co-conspirators. Here’s a list of the members of congress who are advancing the crime agenda in the petrie dishes of kleptocracy that are Trump’s properties.

By now you know that the repellent Rudy Giuliani has claimed he works as Trump’s henchman for “free” (a gift unrecorded by Trump, yet another ethics violation) while taking payments from sleaze ball Lev Parnas (indicted and singing like a canary turd), who in turn is paid by a Russian oligarch named Firtash, who, in the Putin-oligarchy, is up to his ears in brute corruption, too.

11th Month Insecta

There are still a few insects in the cold.
On Friday, this wasp, bumble bee, and fly were active. There were other flies about, and other impossible-to-photograph diptera, and a lovely leaf-hopper or two.
Some kind of gall on a crab apple. Exit hole visible.
Remember last January when I found a large cocoon that I thought belonged to a Polyphemus moth? On Friday, at the same willow oak, I found another.

Paper wasp paper.
Saturday was much colder, but this Fall Armyworm was on the march.
Also on that cold and blustery Saturday, we found three different harvestmen, each one on lichen or moss. Of course, we were looking at lichen and moss, so…


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