Photo: Rick Nirschl
Ohioan Rick Nirschl, who migrates south to Texas for the winters, has done it again. This time it's a moth species that he's added to his ever growing stable of United States firsts, which include dragonflies and a bird. CLICK HERE for more on Nirschl finds.
While patrolling the National Butterfly Garden in Mission, Texas, Nirschl noticed and photographed the shiny animal in the photo. It turned out to be Napata leucotelus (no common name insofar as I am aware), which has not previously been documented north of the border. It belongs to the huge family Arctiidae, or the tiger moths, and is in subfamily Ctenuchinae. Moth enthusiasts may notice its similarity to a related species common in these parts, the Virginia Ctenucha, Ctenucha virginica.
Napata leucotelus ranges widely throughout Mexico, Central America, and into at least northern South America. South Texas, where Nirschl made this find, has proven to be highly productive for finding southern moths and butterflies previously unknown in the United States. The proliferation of planted gardens specifically designed to attract Lepidoptera, and the ever-increasing sophistication of skilled observers such as Nirschl, have led to numerous new U.S. finds in recent years. Congrats to Rick, and I suspect this won't be his last major find.
For a major mothing adventure closer to home - at least if you live in or near Ohio - check out Mothapalooza, RIGHT HERE.