Readers’ wildlife photos

September 5, 2022 • 8:00 am

Today we have a batch of lovely moth photos by reader Mary Rasmussen. Her notes and IDs are indented (photography specs at bottom), and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

After seeing Paul Doerder’s great moth pictures, I was inspired to put together a group of images that I took at night at our cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan during and around National Moth Week.  Our cabin is on the shore of Lake Michigan with a small lawn surrounded by cedar swamp. I used a 6 foot tall by 3 foot wide sheet of 1/4 inch plywood to which I taped a 6 foot length from a roll of soft white photo background paper. The plywood was propped against the front screen door and a porch light above the door and a 2-foot UV fluorescent light attached to the top of the plywood provided the light that attracted the moths.

Some nights the entire porch was covered in moths. I had to tuck my pants into my socks and wear long sleeves to keep moths from climbing up my arms and legs. I wanted to see what was flying around here at night. Moth photography showed me creatures more spectacular than I could imagine.

Haploa Moth:

Crocus Geometer Moth (Xanthotype spp.):

Wavy-lined Emerald Moth (Synchlora aerata albolineata):

Arched Hooktip Moth (Drepana arcuata)

Harris’s Three-spot Moth (Harrisimemna trisignata):

Zigzag Furcula Moth (Furcula scolopendrina):

Lettered Habrosyne Moth (Habrosyne scripta):

Once-married Underwing Moth (Catocala unijuga):

Yellow-necked Caterpillar Moth (Datana ministra):

Hologram Moth (Diachrysia balluca):

Side view of Hologram Moth, green and gold metallic colors change with your angle of view:

Camera Setup for Mothing:

I use a Nikon D500 camera with Nikon VR 105mm f/2.8G macro lens. For smaller subjects I add a Raynox DCR-150 snap-on macro lens. For greater depth of field, some images comprise multiple hand-held shots put together in Zerene Stacker software.  I’m currently using a folding flash diffuser from AK Diffuser ( which has many thoughtful features. It folds flat for storage, has a built-in LED modeling light for help focusing on subjects at night, and a holder for my Raynox snap-on lens. An internet search will show cheaper home made diffuser options—I used to use paper towels and a clear file folder, but the AK Diffuser is now my favorite for mothing.

Note: these were all live specimens that flew off after turning the lights off.

Shout-out to Alex Wild and the folks at where I first learned insect photography.

20 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Terrific photos! That is a very nice diffuser as well. I had a very exciting trip to Bugshot all set up (to Florida), and then the Covid thing wiped it out, unfortunately.

  2. Those are fantastic photos! Thanks so much for sharing those. I’d never get to see that level of detail IRL, especially with my poor eyesight.

    1. According to BugGuide:

      UNIJUGA: from the Latin “unis” (one) + “jugalis” (pertaining to a yoke; matrimonial); translates to the common name [Once-married] but has no particular significance. The common names given to species of Catocala are often fanciful and arbitrary.

        1. You’re very welcome – once you’d asked the question I was intrigued to find out the answer. Drives the kids nuts – they ask something, then soon regret me looking it up…!

  3. Great, first-class photos! Such color, detail. Mothing is a great hobby. So happy you were inspired to share them!

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