Posts Tagged 'moths'

Lepidoptera Lowdown

A veritable blizzard of Lepidoptera over a patch of ground-loving Buddleja last week. img_9900Lots of skippers skipping. This is a male Sachem (Atalopedes campestris), I think. img_9898Several sulphurs ever so briefly alighting. This is purported to be a Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)… probably: Orange and Clouded can mix it up genetically, so these are hard to differentiate; perhaps the species definition should incorporate them both? One of them had an intense orange to its inner wings. Junonia coeniaA common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) showing a lot of late season wear and tear. A bird attack? Helicoverpa zeaAnd a lone moth, Helicoverpa zea, the Corn Earworm, obviously named for its caterpillar form. Most moths are active at night, which is why this blog is so notably absent in them; also, they’re hard to identify, not least because they are so many of them: there 11,000 species currently recognized in North America. helped me with this ID. Curiously, this individual was chased by groups of several skippers, as if they really did not want the competition.


Hemaris diffinisAnother critter hard to pin down. This is a Snowberry Clearwing Moth (Hemaris diffinis), named after one of its host plants and, more obviously, those see-through parts of the wings. This was moving quickly between honeysuckle blossoms, another of its caterpillar hosts, and proving hard to capture in the lens. Note that it mimics a large bee or wasp, sort of flying like one, too. Hemaris diffinisI thought at first this was a Hummingbird Clearwing (H. thysbe); it says here the species can be difficult to distinguish, but the legs on this specimen are definitely black, and that means diffinis.

Compare to the similar-sized Nessus Sphinx.

Pollination Nation


Nessus Sphinx

Amphion floridensisPerching covertly: Nessus Sphinx (Amphion floridness). When I first saw it, my thought was Cicada Killer Wasp. Amphion floridensisThe Peterson guide says this day-flying moth is common throughout its range — the northeast to Virginia, across the midwest — but I think this is the first I’ve seen it.

Webworm Parent

Atteva aureaThe Ailanthus Webworm Moth (Atteva aurea) is distinctive. For one thing, it was working in daylight and most moths are nocturnal. Also, with its small wings tightly rolled, it doesn’t look like your typical moth; it’s one of the ermine moths. Its nominal host plant, Ailanthus (The Tree that Grows on Roofs), is originally from Asia, but this species is native to southern Florida and the Caribbean. There it originally fed (in its caterpillar stage) on Paradise Trees (Simarouba glauca). Somewhere along the way, it jumped to Ailanthus and spread north.

O brave new world

That has such creatures in’t! These are all new discoveries for me, excepting the last, because there’s one thing the arthropods prove, and that’s ever-new discoveries.Acharia stimuleaThe aptly-named named Saddleback caterpillar (Acharia stimulea), about 2cm long. The adult moth is one of the fuzzy indistinguishable brown jobs, but this larval stage form is amazingly unique. The sting from these spines “may be the most potent of any North American caterpillar” says Wagner. The most elaborate caterpillars generally are giving you a warning. Spotted at the Charleston Cemetery, far western Staten Island, and untouched, although I wasn’t aware of the nasty sting at the time.Cisseps fulvicollisYellow-collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvicollis) seen in Green-Wood. A day-flyer, gathering nectar amid masses of wasps it vaguely mimics. The image in Peterson’s field guide shows an orange collar and notes that the vast majority are orange-collared, so the common name is a little less than helpful. Robber FlyAnother wasp-like non-wasp. This is one of the robber flies in the family Aslidae. It hunts bees and wasps and was patrolling the path along the Marine Park Salt Marsh trail. It would fly low, land, and stare at me until I got too close, then fly forward to land again and stare back at me. Those whiskers would do a hipster proud. Eremnophila aureonotataMating Thread-waisted Wasps (Eremnophila aureonotata) at Mt Loretto. I’ve since seen a few solo of the species flying, trailing that long, long waist.Dolichovespula maculataBald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nest in Green-Wood. Their paper nests are usually hiding up in the trees, but recently I’ve seen pictures of them in the grass, and built around the supports of a basketball net.Dolichovespula maculataYes, they are at home. No, they are not taking any visitors.

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…


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