moth watching

Major Sallow Moth — Feralia major — Hodges #10007

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything, but I’ll probably be back to posting more frequently now that insects and other creatures are making their appearance here at the farm. After a long winter of heavy snowfall, the weather has made an about-face and we seem to be jumping right into summer. The leaves are bursting out on the trees and the forests have changed from stark grays to hazy green in a matter of days. I meant to shoot some before-and-after photos, but we’ve had a couple of busy weeks and I never did get out with the camera.

However, I did manage to shoot a few photos of night moths seen around the front porch lamp on warm evenings. I’ve never really made much of an effort to attract moths, but we do get a few around the front door and living room window each evening. I try to remember to take my camera and shoot a few photos each night throughout summer as I’ve been trying (albeit rather slowly) to create a record of the moths seen around our farm through the seasons. If you’re interested, you can visit my moth photo gallery. Most of the moths in that gallery were photographed here at the farm, but there are also a few images of moths seen while we were out hiking at a couple of locations. I try to record the date and sometimes the time of each moth sighting so that I’ll have that information for future reference.

The moths at the top and bottom of this post are both new sightings here at the farm (click on images for larger views). The top moth seems to be a Major Sallow Moth (Feralia major – Hodges 10007), photographed on the morning of April 22, 2008. I’ve done some checking around for info on them and see that Lynn Scott, who has been photographing moths at a location not all that far from me, has sightings from April 19th to May 5th (see chart at bottom of page). According to the information about the life history of this moth found on an info page from the University of Alberta’s Strickland Entomological Museum’s website:

Like other Feralia species, the life history is probably closely linked to the appearance of new buds on the host conifers. Adults emerge early in the spring and lay eggs which hatch about the time the bud scales drop off the new buds. The larvae feed on the soft new needles until they harden, then pupate. They complete much of their transformation in the pupae before winter, and thus are ready to emerge as soon as it warms in spring. They are nocturnal and come to light.

Our place is surrounded by conifers — pine, spruce and tamarack, so it’s not too surprising that these moths would be found around our porch light.

The moth at the bottom of this post is the Dot-and-Dash Swordgrass Moth (Xylena curvimacula Hodges 9874), photographed at the porch light on April 22, 2008. In past years, Lynn Scott’s sightings for this moth range from March 26 to May 16th. Several sources list alder, poplar, willow, birch and cherry as the larval food plants. Again, we have a good deal of most of those trees here at the farm.

Anyhow, I plan to continue photographing moths this season. I’ll try to post some of my more interesting finds here on the blog, along with other insects and spiders seen this year. I’ve never really made a concerted effort to attract moths to any spot around the farm, but if time allows, I may do a little of that in the evenings this year.

Now, to abruptly change topics — A few of you emailed me yesterday to report that something weird had happened to my blog. Sure enough, when I tried to visit my blog, I was immediately “redirected” to a tech website in India (grrrrhhh!!!). After much checking through the code of various parts of my blog, I gave up and emailed David Shorthouse (you’ll recognize the name from The Canadian Arachnologist website), to see if he might have some idea about the source of the problem. He got me pointed in the right direction by suggesting that the “redirect” was somehow tied to the Yahoo Stat Counter plug-in. I immediately deactivated it and my blog stopped redirecting to the India tech website. So, for anyone who happens to encounter a similar problem, I’d suggest starting off with deactivating various plug-ins to see if that might be the source. Thanks to everyone who emailed me to let me know about the problem, and special thanks to David for helping me get the problem sorted out.

Dot-and-Dash Swordgrass Moth — Xylena curvimacula — Hodges #9874

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14 Responses to “moth watching”

  1. robin andrea Says:

    It’s so good to see you back and posting again. Great re-entry with these moth shots. They’re both beauties, but that Sallow Moth is really grand with that hint of sage green.

    I’m also glad that you were able to fix the re-direct. What a surprise it was to find myself on a site that I couldn’t figure out how I had gotten there. Then, I remembered, oh yes, I clicked on Burning Silo. How weird that was.

  2. Cindy Says:

    great shots bev- have been meaning to call, but lots going on-
    the bottom image resembles a elegant prominent from the’s been awhile for me, need to brush up a bit..
    happy mothing :)

  3. Cicero Sings Says:

    I checked out your photo gallery of moths. Amazing the assortment. What a great resource!

  4. DougT Says:

    It’s good to see you back posting again. I really liked the Feralia picture. Have you ever tried sugaring for moths? I haven’t, but I’ve heard that sallows are one group that it works really well with.

  5. bev Says:

    robin – I agree… that hint of green really sets this moth apart. Regarding the redirect problem — I was so annoyed when it happened. Such a waste of time having to spend part of my day trying to sort out that problem.

    Cindy – Good to hear from you! I looked at the elegant prominent and there’s some resemblance, but it’s those really distinctive tan wing margins with the black lines that were the fieldmarks that made me go with the Xylena curvimacula. The wings are actually very strange.. almost like they are just narrow forewings — it’s sort of surprising how they change to the shimmery surface texture to match the high wings. Lynn Scott’s photos show that a lot better than my own.
    – Cicero – Thanks! I’ve photographed many more moths, but just haven’t had time to get everything ID’d and put up in my gallery. I hope to do a bit better job this summer!

    Doug – Thanks. It’s good to be back posting too. With any luck, I’ll have lots to write about this season! I have never tried sugaring for moths, but I was thinking that might be a neat experiment for this summer. I’m also thinking of setting up a moth sheet in a couple of areas of the farm — I thought maybe in the woods or one of the meadows. I have seen photos that someone took of some “sugaring stations” along a trail and that’s another idea — perhaps putting something along the trail back in the area where the moth population is likely to be a lot heavier. Again, good stuff to try as experiments right here at the farm. Will report back with results sometime soon! (-:

  6. Wayne Says:

    Bev – as others have noted, the greenish tinge, as well as the fur on the sallow moth are very striking. And the wings on the Xylena are odd indeed – I thought at first it might be a sphinx type rather than a noctuid owlet.

    It’s really annoying to find that someone has been messing around with your website. I didn’t recognize the redirect to India – what came up for me was redirect to a page hawking what looked like mostly microsoft products. Was that the same one?

    So far statcounter seems to be ok, but your experience tells me that if things become out of order that’s the first thing I’m getting rid of.

  7. bev Says:

    Wayne – I do like these green moths. There aren’t all that many species that have those colours, so it’s kind of a treat to find one.
    Yes, it *is* very annoying to find that someone has messed with your website. Yes, indeed, it was that microsoft product website that was the redirect to a site in India. I actually wrote to them to ask what they had done to mess up my blog, but they said they didn’t have anything to do with it. I’ve since sent them an email with the line of malicious code pasted into it so that they can see it for themselves. I haven’t heard back from them as yet and may not.
    I’ve always been kind of suspicious of using various plug-ins — especially ones downloaded from sources that I can’t be fairly sure of, but I never expected this problem to be related to the Yahoo stat counter which is a standard plug-in offered to customers who use Yahoo as their host (as I do). It’s interesting about the stat counter thing as I used to use another stat counter plug-in — non-Yahoo — and it started causing crazy things to happen to my blog, so I deactivated it. Maybe those stat counters are a weak link in the chain when it comes to hacking into blogs.

  8. Wayne Says:

    Bev – I can see how the stat counter can be a hackable script. I’ve been using mine less and less, partly because now 98% (I just checked) of the hits come through searches for images. I don’t mind that, but it’s deadly dull checking to see which images are most popular. And while it’s certainly the other 2% that’s more interesting, I suspect this entry point has now become more of a potential liability than an asset. Not the stat counter’s fault, it’s just reporting the facts, ma’am. But the novelty long ago wore off.

  9. Dave Says:

    That sallow moth shot is realy nice! :)

  10. Seabrooke Says:

    That swordgrass is fabulous. Some really great ones in your photo album, too. Nice to discover another blogger with an appreciation for moths!

    Sugaring is worth a try, but I’ve been told it’s most effective in early spring and especially later in the fall, when there aren’t many flowers blooming but the nights are cooler. I gather you’ll get stuff the rest of the year but in lower numbers. The sallows and underwings, both attracted to sugar solution, are generally fall groups.

    For some really great numbers/diversity, I’d suggest investing in a cheap $5 blacklight bulb from Home Depot or the like and setting that in front of a white sheet. Cheap, easy, but oh so effective. You can set one up at dusk and just pop out to check it every once in a while, in between doing other stuff, see what’s come in in the meantime. Main thing is just to make sure it’s in an openish area where the light can be seen from a greater distance.

    Another localish moth-related blog you might find interesting is The Mothman:

  11. Kim in Marquette Michigan Says:

    I love that I found your site! And I am adding you to my weblog. I was researching today a photo on my site, posted May 8, 2008 as I am trying to figure out if I photographed a red berry on a labrador tea plant or is it just appearing that way and it is from a high bush cranberry (sigh–scratching head). It was a complicated day and I ate a few berries as I was hungry–no ill effect which is good but would love to have a clear identification. the next time I head out to this area I will have a child that has autism spectrum disorder and I will not be able to head out into the deltas mat.

  12. Cathy Wilson Says:

    Oh my. I’ve just returned from your moth gallery. Who could contrive the diversity and whimsy that nature has produced? That Himmelman’s Plume Moth is beyond imagining.

    Of course, I find the catocala entrancing. Something about the hand of the pilgrim, the searcher joined with the subject; both ephemeral gifts of the universe to itself. Lovely.

  13. Laiku Oh Says:

    Please check this out:
    I really want to know what kind of moth this mysterious one is. It was so still, I thought it was dead. To me, it looks like a baby moth.

  14. bev Says:

    Laiku – I looked at your moth and it seems to be a Campaea perlata, known as the Pale Beauty (Hodges # 6796). I have photographed them before too. Here is a photo of one that is in my moth gallery on Pbase:
    If you go to this page on the Moth Photographers website, you will see it in the third row down.

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