Skip to main content

Moths, moths, and more moths

We didn't ignore the dark side of Ohio's Lepidoptera at the recent Appalachian Butterfly Conference. To do so would be to ignore the vast majority of flying scaled things. After all, there are about 135 species of butterflies known from Ohio, and an estimated 2,500 moths! The learning curve is huge with the latter group, and we were greatly aided by Dr. Dave Horn, Ohio's "Moth Man". Dave is Director of the Ohio Biological Survey, and extremely generous with his time and expertise. There were so many moths about, we found them perched about here and there, but the majority were caught by Dave's blacklight operation.
Following are a few highlights.
A random assortment. The big brown one is a Tulip Tree Silkmoth, Callosamia angulifera. It is pretty specific to Tulip Trees for a larval host plant, hence the common name. Next to it is a Luna Moth, Actias luna, which is utterly unmistakeable. We saw lots of them. The others? I don't know, and that's par for the course, at least with the little brown jobs, at least for a piker like myself.Closeup of a male Luna. The sexes can be told by their antenna, which in the case of the male is broad, feathery, and rather fernlike. They use them to detect female pheremones, sometimes from mind-boggling distances. The giant silkworm moths don't last long: they live for only a few days and their sole purpose is to mate and in the case of the female, lay eggs. They have no functional mouthparts and don't feed.
Luna caterpillar. We found and photographed these last year, near the spot where we captured the adult above. The cats are giant and rather showy.
Huckleberry Sphinx, Paonias astylis. This was a cool one, and a life moth for many. They feed on the several species of blueberries, Vaccinium, that occur in the forest, and presumably Huckleberry, Gaylusaccia baccata.
Rosy Maple Moths, Dryocampa rubicunda, are abundant generalists but always crowd pleasers. Their color scheme of pink and yellow is something not too often seen in nature, at least in these parts.

Thank again to Dave Horn for the experience!


KatDoc said…

What eats Luna Moths? Bats? I find Luna wings regularly in the mornings, under the halogen light on my barn. I never get to see the living moths, and always wonder what eats them.

Jim McCormac said…
Hi Kathi,

Yep, bats are big consumers of Lunas and many other moths. We stood for a while under a bright parking lot light last Saturday night at Shawnee and marveled at the bats speeding through trying to nab moths. If successful, a pair of wings will flutter to the ground, as all they're interested in is the plump hotdog-like body.


Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Snowy owl photography tactics - and things NOT to do

A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.

These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.

I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.

And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…