Readers’ wildlife photos

March 2, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s contribution is from faithful regular Mark Sturtevant. His notes are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

This theme of this post will be about moths. Most of the pictures were taken at a single location, on a single day, after someone left the lights on all night at a park building. It became well covered with moths that stayed on into the morning when I came upon it. It’s fun to just enlarge the pictures and gaze at their scaley, fuzzy details.

First up is a Geometrid moth. This is the adult of the curved lined looper (Lambdina fervidaria). They are quite variable in color, ranging from pale white to a lovely yellow.

Another example of the same family is shown next. Plain and yet very striking. This is the tulip tree beauty (Epimecis hortaria), and they are super-variable in their patterns, as shown in the link. It seems like no two are alike.

Sometimes I need to spend a lot of time trying trying to ID an insect, and moths can be especially challenging. The next picture shows what might be the Ipsilon dart, Agrotis ipsilon, but I cannot be sure of that.

There is no mistaking the next moth. This tiny beauty has a name at least 5 times longer than its body (Epicallima argenticinctella). It is in the ‘concealer moth’ family, which is a group whose larvae live in a bundle of plant debris, tied up in silk.

Dagger moths are a large group of species, so named because of the distinctive tufts on their fuzzy larvae.  The next two pictures show the American dagger moth (Acronicta americana).

I was very happy to find several of the next moth around the light, as I had never seen them before although they are described as being common. This is the painted lichen moth (Hypoprepia fucosa). Their larvae feed on lichens, although I have never seen them on it.

Next is a bird dropping mimic. This is the tufted bird dropping moth (Cerma cerintha).

Finally, this remarkable looking moth is the pink-shaded fern moth (Callopistria mollissima). Their larvae will feed on ferns.

Thanks for looking!

17 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Really gorgeous photos, Mark, as always. How in the world do you manage to identify these moths and your other (often seemingly obscure) invertebrate species?

    1. Thank you.
      It starts with an Entomology background. In truth, that rarely gets me an ID, but at least I can know roughly the family or superfamily in the case of “little brown jobbie” moths. Then there is the web site called BugGuide. Without that site I would be lost in the wilderness. No doubt about it.

      1. Thanks, Mark.
        Forgot to say, lovely photos. Moths are really underappreciated, but so many of them are subtly beautiful.

    1. LOL. It reminds me of the Atlas of Creation ‘caddis fly” which was a fishing lure with a big hook sticking out its posterior [colour page 8, The Greatest Show on Earth, Richard Dawkins, 2009]

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