Friday, August 9, 2013

Moths at the lights

A Harnessed Tiger Moth, Apantesis phalerata, flutters around one of my night lights. I'm sure that you've got moths visiting your lights, too. Be careful; they become addictive! I found myself going outside frequently to see what might have dropped in, and snapping photos of the scaly-winged visitors. My neighbor popped over last night, wondering what I was doing. Can't blame her - from afar, it looks like I'm staring at the walls, and occasionally lighting the place up with camera flash. So I told her, and I think she thinks I am weird. Possibly, but once you start really looking at moths, and studying their often subtle beauty, the desire to see more of them grows.

Following is a pictorial checklist of just a sampling of the species that I've seen either here at my house in Columbus, or during one night last weekend at a cabin in Jackson County. No special effort was made to lure them; these all just came into the regular porch lights.

Here's that Harnessed Tiger Moth in repose.

 Ash-tip Borer, Papaipema cerussata

Banded Tussock Moth, Halysidota tessellaris

Black-bordered Lemon, Marimatha nigrofimbria

Chickweed Geometer, Haematopis grataria

Closeup of male Chickweed Geometer's antennae

Common Looper, Autographa precationis

Delicate Cycnia, Cycnia tenera

Double-banded Grass Veneer, Crambus agitatellus

The Beggar, Eubaphe mendica

Friendly Probole, Probole amicaria

Bold-feathered Grass Moth, Herpetogramma pertextalis

Virginian Tiger Moth, Spilosoma virginica

Clymene Moth, Haploa clymene

The past few nights, I've been getting blizzards of these tiny moths.

Up close, they're rather charming with those swept-back plumes. This is the Clemens' Grass Tubeworm Moth, Acrolophus popeanella, an animal with a name far bigger than its size. Their caterpillars feast on red clover, and there's plenty of that around here. Thanks to Michael Fitts and Diane Brooks for putting me onto the correct identification of this one.
In a way, mothing is a bit like fishing, and night lights are the bait. You just never know what interesting creatures are going to show up.


Nichole said...

Mothing looks like a lot of fun! Then I looked at The Moth Book by Holland and was immediately discouraged. It's back to the old joke about needing a key for your key. Any suggestions on a good identification guide?

Jim McCormac said...

Hi Nichole, the new Peterson guide is the one to get. I talk about it here:

Auralee said...

No doubt, those are beauties. But I would offer a challenge to you, the intrepid biologist: please help me find something redeeming in what I see the most, the common clothes moth. Other than the entertainment value to my cats :-). I have to say you do make me want to go mothing. I never thought I would hear myself say that... Cheers!

Nichole said...

Thank You!