Wednesday, May 14, 2014
The showy little fruit dangling on pendant pedicels above are those of red maple, Acer rubrum, a common host plant of the Rosy Maple Moth. The maple fruit reach this stage in early spring, about the time that the hatch of moths commences.
New River Birding & Nature Festival at Hawk's Nest State Park in West Virginia. Rachel had noticed a Rosy Maple Moth that was clinging to a wall under a nightlight - still present from the night before. We showed that to our group, and all were suitably awed by the festively colored moth. Then we noticed that the ground was littered with fresh red maple samaras (the term for the helicopter-like fruit of maples). The light bulb went off, and we began to harvest some of the more colorful fruit, as above.
Nature is full of very cool adaptive camouflage, but this is perhaps one of the more interesting examples in our part of the world. At least, I think one could make a strong case that this explains the maple moth's showy coloration.