Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lesser Grapevine Looper

A Lesser Grapevine Looper, Eulithis diversilineata, rests under your narrator's porch lights.

I found myself chained to my desk today, writing, writing, writing. Come nightfall, I took a break to see if any interesting lepidopterans had stopped in at the porch lights. Sure enough, the little oddity above was camped out on the wall. I was quite pleased, and rushed to get the camera. Lesser Grapevine Loopers are common, but I had no good photos of one, and here was the opportunity to remedy that!

Note the bizarrely curled abdomen, a very distinctive posture in this species. I suppose it is some sort of disruptive camouflage, perhaps making the resting moth appear more like a leaf with attached petiole. It certainly makes the moth an interesting photographic subject, if you ask me.

Shooting moths at night is always a challenge. Flash is essential, and it must be set properly for best results. For these shots, I used my Canon 5D Mark III, set on full manual, with the following settings: f/11, shutter speed of 1/200, and ISO at 100. Most importantly, the Canon Twin Lite flashes were mounted at the end of the 100 mm macro lens. The flash was set to ETTL mode, which it allows it to "talk" to the camera and meter the perfect amount of light.

No matter what your rig, as long as you can control the camera's settings manually, you can improve your nighttime shots. Find out what the camera's sync speed is - the fastest shutter speed that it will shoot at while using the flash. If you exceed the sync speed, the resultant photo will be partially blacked out or the camera won't shoot at all. Set the camera to f/11 (maybe f/8 on some point & shoots), ISO to 100, and the flash (built-n or external) to ETTL mode. Voila! You should end up with nicely exposed images, although some tweaking may be required.

The Lesser Grapevine Looper is one of a large cast of characters that depends on native grapes in the genus Vitis, and Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, for survival. Remove these plants, which are all too often derided as weedy, and take away the food source for legions of caterpillars.

I've written about the value of grapes and their kin RIGHT HERE.

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3 comments:

centralohionature.com said...

Fascinating, thanks for sharing. Hope to get to Mothapolooza next year.

Zippi Kit said...

Thank you very much for the camera tips for nighttime shots. Invaluable!
We have a weedy side yard on purpose, though the neighbor might not understand, we do it for butterflies and the birds.
Thank you for blogging and all the great info you provide for others who share your dedication to the wild things.

Donald Comis said...

I second and third the comments. I'll try these tips. I didn't know abut ETTL mode for the flash. I have a photo of what I think is this moth and I've been waiting for identification from www.butterfliesandmoths.org. I wondered why the abdomen was folded like that--I thought maybe all moths did this to give birth or something!