a few recent moth sightings

Copper Underwing Moth (Amphipyra pyramidoides)

This summer, I havent’ been quite so diligent as intended when it comes to photographing night moths. Oh, I had great plans for this year, but by the time the moths come out in full force (usually around 10 p.m. or so), I don’t feel much like standing around on the porch being bitten by mosquitoes. However, I do watch for interesting moths around the windows or porch lights and go outdoors to photograph what I happen to see. The above moth is one of the nicest ones I’ve seen lately (click on all images for larger views — this one is particularly worth a closer look). It was photographed the evening of August 7th. It’s a Copper Underwing moth (Amphipyra pyramidoides) — a fairly large moth with coppery hind wings (unseen in this photo). Here’s a bit more info about this moth from the University of Alberta website.

White-spotted Sable Moths (Anania funebris glomeralis)

Earlier the same day, I encountered three mating pairs of White-spotted Sable Moths (Anania funebris glomeralis) while we were out for our evening walk. Although the host plant of this moth’s caterpillar is said to be mainly goldenrod, I found all of the pairs on the underside of milkweed leaves — perhaps because the leaves provide a better perch. I had photographed a mating pair of these before, so was quite interested to check the date of my previous sighting. It turned out to be June 4, 2006. I’m now thinking there must be a couple of flights of these each season, so will have to check into that.

Dark-spotted Palthis moth (Palthis angulalis)

This last moth is quite small and actually looked like a bit of dried leaf hanging from a Black-eyed Susan flower. However, its odd triangular shape caught my attention, so I investigated further. Even after inspecting the small “bit”, I wasn’t entirely sure it was a living thing until I gently nudged it with my finger and saw it move. I shot photos and then took a better look on my computer once home. It looks to me as though this is a Dark-spotted Palthis (Palthis angulalis). As you can see from this species page on the Moth Photographers Group website, the coloration of these moths varies considerably. This one was reddish-brown. The dark spot of these species isn’t well seen in my photo as the shape of the wings puts a crease line right through the spot. In fact, the shape of the wings make this moth look a bit like some kind of supersonic aircraft. I checked around for information on this moth, and its caterpillars are supposed to feed on a wide variety of plants, but particularly on conifers – something we have quite a lot of here at the farm.

So, those are a few of my recent sightings. The weather has been very hot and humid lately and I’ve been finding it less than pleasant to wander about in the hot sunlight. Even the insects seem to agree as there aren’t many around during the hottest part of the day – with the exception of the butterflies who seem to revel in it. My best insect sightings have been from morning or evening walks. However, today is a little cooler, so I must get out to see what’s out and about this afternoon. Has anyone else noticed less or more activity in the heat?

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4 Responses to “a few recent moth sightings”

  1. robin andrea Says:

    I find that insects seem more active on sunny days than on cloudy ones. We haven’t had many hot days, so it’s hard to know if they are more active on the cooler sunny days than on the hotter sunny days. Today, it is cloudy and cool, we went for a walk and saw just a few insects out and about. During our brief time of bright days with temps in the 70s last week, I saw several species of butterflies and beetles. I should have photographed them!

  2. DougT Says:

    Your picture of Amphipyra erminded me of a non-native underwing that has been showing up here in increasing numbers over the past several years. Do you see Noctua pronuba in Ontario? I’m not aware of it being a particular problem (yet), but we’re starting to see lots of them here in Chicago.

  3. bev Says:

    Doug – So far, I don’t think I’ve found it here at my farm, but I checked online and found several references to it being in Ontario. Also, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resource’s NHIC site contains an entry for it with this note: According to Lafontaine (1997), Noctua pronuba was introduced at Halifax, Nova Scotia about 1979. It first reached Ontario in 1992 and has since spread as far south and west as Maryland and Wisconsin, respectively.
    I just checked a website from the UK and see that it eats a variety of grasses and herbaceous plants. I guess that doesn’t provide much of a barrier for it extending its range throughout much of North America, especially as we now have so many European plants in gardens, roadsides and meadows, that the larvae would find plenty to eat.

  4. Cathy Says:

    I definitely agree. I was out later a few days ago and the insects were great. Today in the heat – very slow (except as you say for the butterflies.

    Wonderful moths, Bev. Most of us would have dismissed that Palthis as dead plant material. That’s really something. So I imagine the underwing of the Amphipyra is a coppery color. Did you move the wing aside on this one?