Readers’ wildlife photos

December 28, 2022 • 8:15 am

Ceiling Cat answered my prayers, prompting two readers to send in photos. But the Divine Moggy says “MOAR PHOTOS PLZ!”

Today’s batch comes from reader Aaron Hunt, who has considerable moth cred. His notes are indented below, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them:

So far, nearly all my observation of live moths has been in my survey of the moths of Block Island, RI, which is one of the most detailed and complete surveys of a local moth fauna anywhere in the world. I have published my data on a website, blockislandmoths.org, and I’ll gradually add to the site my findings and comments on the identification, systematics, and ecology of North American moths. Examples so far include a discussion of the systematics of Derrima, an explanation of sight identification of several similar white tiger moths, and a summary of the distributions of specialists of Baccharis in eastern North America. I curate moth photographs on BugGuide and am an editor at Moth Photographers Group, which hosts and updates the checklist of described moths in North America north of Mexico and is a valuable reference used by the region’s moth specialists. I’m currently writing my masters thesis on urban moth community composition using data I gathered trapping in the Boston area.

Spilosoma latipennis (Noctuoidea: Erebidae: Arctiinae) — This immaculate white species can easily be confused with the all-white forms of a couple close relatives until you get a look at the striking red to pinkish color on the femora of its forelegs, which are yellow in related species. As in a majority of moth species, males are commoner than females at lights. The males most often arrive at lights very late at night, soon before first light.

Campaea perlata (Geometridae) — This off-white moth is common and ubiquitous in the Northeast US, where two generations occur each year. The male pictured here had eclosed from its pupa around dusk, less than an hour earlier, and is hanging from a blade of grass with its wings fully expanded but not quite dry yet.

Apantesis nais (Noctuoidea: Erebidae: Arctiinae) — Like most tiger moths, this species sports aposematic coloration warning predators of its toxicity gained as a larva from sequestering pyrrolizidine alkaloids from food plants. I managed to get a shot of this individual with its wings spread as it fluttered across the ground.

Bucculatrix packardella (Bucculatricidae) — This species belongs to a diverse group of very small moths, most with wingspans of less than a centimeter. Larvae in this group are leaf-miners, which develop within leaves, hollowing out portions of them without consuming the upper and lower leaf epidermis layers. In general, leaf miners are host specialists; this species feeds on oaks.

Apamea inebriata (Noctuoidea: Noctuidae) — This species is restricted to coastal habitats in the Northeast and is extremely similar to the more widespread A. verbascoides. Like its congeners, it likely feeds on grasses as a caterpillar. I chilled this individual to try out some detail shots, and it helpfully exercised its proboscis as it warmed up.

Pyralis farinalis (Pyralidae: Pyralinae) — A cosmopolitan pest of stored grains. This individual managed to land on one or two strands of silk at the edge of a spider web and so looks as if it is floating in this odd photo.

Cenopis reticulatana (Tortricidae: Tortricinae: Sparganothini) — Especially common in the Northeast and Midwest, this species occurs throughout eastern North America. As in most species of Sparganothini, males and females differ in the proportions of their forewings.

Gnorimoschema salinaris (Gelechioidea: Gelechiidae) — The larva of this species forms a stem gall in certain species of goldenrod (Solidago). Adults are fairly common on Block Island in September in coastal habitats where seaside goldenrod occurs. This species is part of a complex of more than a dozen very similar species, all of which induce galls in asters.

Phalaenophana pyramusalis (Noctuoidea: Erebidae: Herminiinae) — Not all nocturnal moths readily come to lights; this species is only weakly drawn to them. Adults are most easily found with a flashlight to illuminate them as they fly a few feet above the ground at night.

11 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Another Coynezaa miracle!

    Delightful as usual – such elegant creatures – exactly the photography required, beautiful set!

  2. Beautiful photos of beautiful moths. Does anyone know why Apamea inebriata is so named? I’m sure the one that you chilled FELT rather drunk but that doesn’t seem likely to be the reason for the species name, and Wikipedia didn’t mention why.

    1. Ferguson did not say in his description [https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/41135593#page/398/mode/1up] of the species. He discovered the species while sugaring for moths, which suggests two likely sources of its name: either the moths he found were drunk on sugary bait, metaphorically, or he was drunk while observing them at bait, literally.

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