Thursday, June 19, 2014

Some Moths, Pt. 2

A few weeks ago I spent a night in Hocking County. Capitalizing on some porch lights available, I gathered photo after photo of the different moth species that showed up. I'm still working on identifying them all, as many species are very similar to others and worn individuals can be very hard to identify. I do have about half of them identified, and I wanted to go over a few of them here.

Anna's Tiger Moth, Grammia anna
First up was the star of the night, a lovely Anna's Tiger Moth, Grammia anna. Tiger moths are a group of beautifully-colored and patterned moths, but most people are more familiar with them in their caterpillar stages. This tribe of moths is known for their "woolly bear" caterpillars, a few of which I've covered here. This species can be found throughout all of Ohio and feeds on low growing plants such as dandelions.

Banded Tussock Moth, Halysidota tessalaris
Next up is a Banded Tussock Moth, Halysidota tessalaris. Notice the contrasting gold and blue on the body, a distinguishing detail. I've previously covered this species while in the larval stage, which you can read about in detail here. As with many species, the scientific name offers details about the look of the species. In this case, tessalaris, from the Latin word "tessella," meaning a small stone square, refers to the checkered mosaic-like pattern on the wings.

Grayish Fan-Foot, Zanclognatha pedipilalis
This small litter moth is a Grayish Fan-Foot, Zanclognatha pedipilalis. Many litter moths (Family Erebidae, subfamily Hermeniinae) are hard to differentiate at first, as identification relies on subtle characteristics. This one actually had me confused; I couldn't decide if it was an Early Fan-Foot or a Grayish. Both have similar markings, but the Early Fan-Foot has a indent in the post-medial bulge, but as you can see in this individual there is no indent, and only a bulge, making it a Grayish Fan-Foot. This particular individual was quite worn as well, making identification even trickier.

Bristly Cutworm, Lacinipolia renigera
Next is another worn individual, a Bristly Cutworm, Lacinipolia renigera. Normally there is white around the middle two green spots (which themselves are barely even visible in this individual), but the white is long gone. I'm assuming the green is meant to mimic moss on bark, or might be used in sexual selection; I'm honestly not sure.

Brown Scoopwing, Calledapteryx dryopterata
This was the first moth of the night, and one of the more interesting ones. Meet the Brown Scoopwing, Calledapteryx dryopterata. The name refers to the curious way this and one other related species folds its hindwings. 

Three-Spotted Fillip Moth, Heterophleps triguttaria
For the penultimate moth, meet the Three-Spotted Fillip Moth, Heterophleps triguttaria. The name, as you could guess, refers to the three dark brown spots on each side of the wings. The caterpillars of this species feed on maple trees, and so you can find the adults in forests that contain maple leaves.

Orange-Patched Smoky Moth, Pyromorpha dimidiata
Last up is a moth that I actually came across in Adams County, not Hocking, but I wanted to add it in here anyway because it's a cool looking moth. This not-so-mothy-looking guy is an Orange-Patched Smoky Moth, Pyromorpha dimidiata. This species is actually a day-flier, unlike most moths which fly at night. Now, there's another very, very similar moth that one could find here, the Black-and-Yellow Lichen Moth. I differentiated these two species based on when I found them. This individual was found in late May. The Orange-Patched Smoky Moth flies in early Summer and the Black-and-Yellow Lichen Moth flies in late Summer and Fall, and since I found this individual in late May it seems that it is the Orange-Patched Smoky Moth. The bright coloration is actually mimicking Lycid beetles, which have a chemical defense. A predator will see this moth, think it is dangerous, and skip it in lieu of a more safe meal. 

That wraps it up for this post. Part 3 will be coming sometime soon, I just have to finish writing it. Another wildflower will be coming too, so stay tuned!

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