Posts Tagged 'moths'

Cats!

When a body meets a body coming through the…
Apiaceae.
Black Swallowtail caterpillar fit to pupate.
The Asteroid, AKA Goldenrod Hooded Owlet.
A reprise of the Common Buckeye caterpillar.
Five were seen in the same small patch.
The blue spines!
Our old friend the Monarch. On the same day, two days ago, a female was laying eggs nearby. This has not been a great year for Monarch caterpillars in Green-Wood.
An addendum to last Friday’s post on Tiger Swallowtails.
This is a brand new chrysalis.

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This is hard to read, but the unspeakable has become our reality.

What Came To Light

Moths spotted during the Macaulay Honors College BioBlitz in Green-Wood cemetery Saturday night:
Black-bordered Lemon Moth (Marimatha nigrofimbria).
Explicit Arches (Lacinipolia explicata).
The Gem, or Gem Moth (Orthonama obstipata).
Idia genus.
Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda).
White-speck (Mythimna unipuncta).
Same individual, showing the effects of different light regimes on the subject.
Greater Black-letter Dart? Opinions differ on iNaturalist.
Suzuki’s Promalactis (Promalactis suzukiella). A species native to Japan, Korea, and Taiwan that seems to have shown up here fairly recently. Small and showy, also a fast crawler.
Lunate Zale (Zale lunata). This was the biggest moth of the night (wingspan 40-55mm) while I was there, and it flopped and flapped all over, including landing on people trying to get a picture of it.
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Speaking of bringing to light, here’s an excellent article on the independent anti-fascist movement working to de-platform Trump’s Nazi’s allies on the internet.

Serious Moonlight

As part of the Macaulay Honors College Bioblitz in Green-Wood this weekend, I got to go inside the cemetery after dark.

Under a gravid Moon, Chimney Swifts scoured the air. A trio of ultraviolet moth stations were set up around the Crescent and Dell Waters. After sunset, two Common Nighthawks flew into view amidst the continuing Swifts. I wondered what the bright planet to the port of the Moon was. I put my 10x42s up… was that a line of moons? Jupiter! Luckily, one of our party had a scope. Yes: it was three of the four Galilean moons aligned around the mighty gas giant. Dragonflies continued to cruise over the water as it darkened. Two bats appeared.

The first insects to land on the sheets were midges large and small.

Some moth bait — in this case a concoction of frozen fruits, banana, and beer — painted onto trees pulled in a couple of Japanese Burrowing Crickets.
Long-necked Seed Bug.
May beetle. Note the three-fingered antenna.
At least a dozen Ailanthus Webworm moths showed up. (It’s so much easier to shoot in daylight that I’m going to cheat on this one.)
Also a plume moth.

And yes, other moths, but they shall have to wait until tomorrow or else this post will be entirely too long…

American Dagger

There is so much going on “in” an oak tree. The biologist E.O. Wilson has written that you could spend a lifetime voyaging like Magellan around a single tree, discovering all the interrelated life associated with it. Quercus is definitely one genus where this applies very well.

This British study found 284 insects associated with oaks. There isn’t a lot of oak diversity in the UK. Meanwhile, searching the combination of insects and oaks on-line gives you a lot of information on pests, as we define them. A lot of things eat oaks, to be sure. Migrating songbirds know it well: an oak in spring is rich with caterpillars. The hungry birds hunt and feast within the emergent leaves, gobbling up caterpillars in the canopy — things we rarely ever see, yet are quite clearly there.

There’s a row of Swamp White (Quercus bicolor) and Pin (Q. palustris) lining a street nearby. I look up into them when I pass. The trees are young enough that the leaves are still within reach. Flies, ladybugs, aphids, galls can all be seen in the trees. This is recent sighting: the caterpillar of the American Dagger moth (Acronicta americana). They can be rather yellower as they grow. Here, several days later, is an even smaller one.
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The New York Times finally gets around to an obit for Florence Merriam Bailey, author of what was probably the very first field guide for birds. Shall we review the gendering of bird-watching/birding?

Winterized

Look up, look down, look all around. This surely must be the mantra of the naturalist. I was looking at an American Kestrel way in a big willow oak; it had been flying from tree to tree and antenna, too, on the border of Green-Wood. But now the lighting and distance were not conducive to photographs, so I turned around and spotted this on the ground.

Inside this cocoon, and you could hear it when gently shaken, was the pupa of a big moth. One of the Saturniidae silkworm moths, I believe. (Compare with these.) Normally suspended from tree or other structure, it had evidently fallen from the oak. That should be ok, but there are certainly risks: rodents will eat them if they find them.

If I had a backyard, I would have brought it home to “raise” (i.e. do next to nothing on my part) over the winter. Amount of light seems to trigger their emergence in spring/summer. But I worry that an overheated apartment might also push the moth to emerge while it’s still too cold out. Here’s a good bit of detail on fostering them at home.

Waiting Out the Winter

Two specimens from the general area of back-of-the-beach scrublands at Fort Tilden. Big silk moth cocoons, I think.From a distance, they look like lingering leaves, of which each bush or tree still had a few.

Smeared Dagger!

The Smartweed Caterpillar is also known after its adult moth form, the Smeared Dagger (Acronicta oblinita). According to Wagner’s Caterpillars of Eastern North America, these are quite variable.Here’s another, missing the red highlights. Excellent opportunity to see the morphology here: the three pairs of thoracic legs (with simple claws) on the left, the four pairs of anterior prolegs, and the pair of anal prolegs (all with hooks and hair-like setae). Tuffs of setae are found in many of the 75 North American species in this genus (!).

Wagner’s book is filled with amazing images of caterpillars, most of which I’ve never seen. For instance, this is the first time I’ve run into this spectacular species. (Inexhaustible nature!) There were three of them visible on Friday. The adult moth is quite plain in comparison.


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