I spent some time yesterday meeting with Dave Horn, who is an entomologist and expert on moths. We're working on a project involving moths, and the resulting publication should be pretty cool. As an offshoot of the meeting, I learned a ton of new info about moths from Dave.
Dennis Profant for giving me the correct ID of this little beauty - it is snout moth, and most likely Hypena palparia - not a horrid zale, as I thought.
I had a stack of "mystery moth" photos that I've taken over the years, and Dave was able to quickly pin names on nearly all of them. I enjoy the process of running down identifications of unknown organisms, but it is a lot faster and easier to trip the camera's shutter at a much speedier clip than one can sit down and try to identify everything. Thus, the mysteries can accumulate.
Moths are very cool, and I've found myself becoming increasingly interested in them. These largely nocturnal fliers become quite addictive, actually, once one begins to really investigate them.
Villa Nova in Worthington, Ohio, with several colleagues from work. The restaurant's front wall, right behind the sign post, became a place of great interest for our party upon exiting the joint.
Or those colors may be there for some entirely different reason.
After the photo session, the leopard moth was placed in a good hiding spot among the vegetation, in a spot vastly preferable to the Villa Nova's stark wall.
The caterpillars are polyphagous, which means they'll eat a great variety of different plant species. They've been recorded dining on everything from sunflowers to maples to violets to willows. As so many of its host plants are widespread and abundant, it means that you might luck into one a giant leopard moth nearly anywhere - even on the wall of your favorite Italian restaurant.