Arctic Skipper

Carterocephalus palaemon, Arctic Skipper, widespread in Minnesota. It was previously known from Carlton County by a historical record. There do not seem to be any recent records from the county other than this one.

 

This small butterfly with dark brown wings and yellow spots is the Arctic Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon). I saw it a few days ago on a warm, sunny, and humid afternoon on June 12. It was resting on a blade of grass in a sunny opening in an encroaching forest. Although the Arctic Skipper is widely distributed and ranked a G5 or “globally secure” there is only one record that I could find of it from Carlton County and it is historical but there was no information about when or where it was seen or who saw it.

Taxonomy
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers)
Family Hesperiidae (Skippers)
Subfamily Heteropterinae (Intermediate Skippers)
Genus/species Carterocephalus palaemon

Description
The upper wing surface is dark brown to almost black with roughly rectangular yellow spots. Below they are like the color of a deer fawn and marked with black-rimmed yellow spots. Wingspread is 2.5 to 3.2 cm.

Range
A circumboreal species found in North America from Alaska to Canada’s Atlantic coast and south to California and Pennsylvania. Not truly an Arctic species.

Larval Host Plants
Larvae of Carterocephalus palaemon eat grasses. In California purple reedgrass (Calamagrostis purpurascens) is reported as a larval host. In some European countries, brome (Bromus spp.) are preferred larval hosts.  Purple moor-grass (Molinia caerulea) has been reported as a larval host in Scotland. Purple reedgrass is rare in Minnesota and purple moor-grass does not grow here. There are bromes both native and introduced in the state as well as the native Canada bluejoint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis). It is likely that Carterocephalus palaemon larvae feed on other grass species besides the few mentioned in the literature.

 

SOURCES
Arctic Skipper Carterocephalus palaemon (Pallas, 1771) at BAMONA.

Carterocephalus palaemon (Pallas, 1771) at the Bourgogne-Nature website.

Chequered Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) at the Sottish Natural Heritage website.

Species Carterocephalus palaemon – Arctic Skipper – Hodges#3982 at the Bug Guide website.

 

Another busy night and another huge moth

Sphinx kalmiae Laurel Sphinx Sphinx Moth
Sphinx kalmiae

 

Another busy and late night but a productive one. I added several more species to the checklist but this one was already on the list after I found a caterpillar of the species last fall. It is the Laurel Sphinx Moth (Sphinx kalmiae). There is an abundance of potential food plants (ash and lilac) for this moth to choose from right around my house so I am hoping to find a few caterpillars later this summer.

Moth Checklist Update

 

Its been a busy month and a half of mothing so far with many new species and as well as returning species seen last summer. As of May 31 the moth checklist for 2018 is now at 57 species with a combined checklist for 2017 and 2018 of 225 species. There are also many new ones in the “Unknown Moths” file. The latest checklist additions, all observed between May 26 and May 31, are Argyrotaenia marianaHelcystogramma melanocarpaAcronicta morulaElaphria versicolorEucosma awemeana, Petrophora subaequaria, Acronicta interrupta, Ancylis albacostanaLeuconycta diphteroides, Ectropis crepusculariaOrthofidonia flavivenata, Palpita magniferalisBibarrambla allenellaPlagodis pulverariaMonopis monachella, Pero morrisonariaApotomis funereaSemioscopis packardella, Tacparia desertata, Hydriomena renunciata, and Galgula partita. Returning species include Caloptilia stigmatella, Pseudeustrotia carneolaEuphyia intermediata, Tetracis crocallata, Gluphisia septentrionalis, Prochoerodes lineola, Metanema determinata, Metanema inatomaria, Plutella xylostella, Clostera albosigma, Acronicta lobeliae, and Idia americalis.

 

I finally found it

 

Ancylis albacostana that is. This was the moth species I believed I had found twice before but was wrong each time being thrown by the white wing margins. This time it is the real deal and was confirmed at Bug Guide last night. The first “discovery” was made several weeks ago after going through photos from last summer. The second was in late April after seeing another moth with a white stripe along its wing edge. It later turned out that these were two different species. The first one turned out to be Capis curvata and the second Acleris celiana. I’ve added photos of Capis curvata and Acleris celiana for comparison with this new moth so that the differences and similarities can be seen.

This moth, which I found on Monday night, fits Kearfott’s description of Ancylis albacostana very well: “Fore wing lead color, rather heavily overlaid on inner two-thirds below the costa [main vein along leading edge of wing] with brownish and blackish scales. From the base to the apex on the costa is a pure white band, widest at end of cell, where it is nearly a quarter the width of wing; continuing to base with only a trifle less width, and lower edge curving evenly into costa and ending in a point at apex.”

Heinrich (1923) says of Ancylis albacostana: “A striking species at once to be recognized by the shining white unmarked costa of fore wing.”

Taxonomy
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Family Tortriciodae (Tortricid Moths)
Family Tortricidae
Subfamily Olethreutinae
Tribe Enarmoniini
Genus/species Ancylis albacostana

Acleris celiana is also in the Superfamily Tortricidae, Family Tortricidae but separated to the Subfamily Tortricinae and Capis curvata is in the Superfamily Noctuoidea and Family Noctuidae (Owlet Moths).

Range
A. albacostana is known from a few locations in nine states Indiana, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina) and three Canadian provinces (New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario). In the Alberta Lepidopterists Guild 2011 spring newsletter there is a tentative report of A. albacostana from Medicine Hat, Alberta collected in 2009. The same report also mentions A. albacostana from Minnesota and Manitoba. Tortricid.net notes it was found in Manitoba in 1905 and that the specimen, which is shown on the web page, is housed in the U.S. National Entomological Collection a part of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

The Minnesota occurrence of Aalbacostana is referenced by Miller (1987) in Guide to the Olethreutine Moths of Midland North American Moths (Tortricidae) in the description of A. albacostana on page 82: “Forewing 7.5 to 8.5 mm long, dark areas grayish brown or brownish black. Adults captured May 29-June 30. Ml, MN.” It does not seem that a year for the collections is given in the paper.

Larval Host Plants
Caterpillars of A. albacostana feed on leaves of maple (Acer spp.).

 

SOURCES
Ancylis albacostana – White-edged Ancylis Moth – Kearfott, 1905 at Moth Photographers Group.

Ancylis albacostana Kearfott 1905 at Tortricid.net

Alberta Lepidopterists’ Guild Newsletter – Spring 2011 on page 15.

Beadle, D. and Leckie, S. (2012). Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Boston. 640 pages.

Kearfott, W. D. (1905). Descriptions of New Species of Tortricid Moths From North Carolina, With Notes. Proceedings of the United States National Museum, Vol. 28: 319-364. Description of Ancylis albacostana on page 360.

Grehan, J. R., B. L. Parker, G. R. Nielsen, D. H. Miller, J. D. Hedbor, M. S. Sabourin, and M. S. Griggs. (1995). Moths and Butterflies of Vermont (Lepoidoptera): A Faunal Checklist. A joint Vermont Agricultural Experiment Station and State of Vermont publication. Misc. Publication 1167, VMC Bulletin 1. 86 pages. Vermont occurrence of Ancylis albacostana on page 16.

Heinrich, C. (1923). Revision of the North American moths of the subfamily Eucosminae of the family Olethreutidae. United States National Museum Bulletin. 123:1-298. Description of Ancylis albacostana on page 253.

Miller, W. E. (1987). Guide to the Olethreutine Moths of Midland North America (Tortricidae). United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Agriculture Handbook 660. 110 pages. Description of Ancylis albacostana on page 82.

Species Ancylis albacosta – White-edged Ancylis Moth – Hodges#3387 at Bug Guide.

Species Acleris celiana – Hodges#3533 at Bug Guide

Species Capis curvata – Curved Halter Moth – Hodges#9059 at Bug Guide.

A Moth Among the Ferns

Northern Petrophora (Petrophora subaequaria)

 

I was out taking a walk Sunday afternoon and saw many different small moths flying out from hiding in the grass and blueberry bushes. Most were too small and fast to get a good look at them. The one shown above flew and ducked under some grass blades just long enough for me to get a few snapshots before it took off. Later I went out again and saw dozens of them in a forest clearing full of bracken fern. The species is Northern Petrophora (Petrophora subaequaria, Family Geometridae) and its larvae feed only on ferns with bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) apparently the principle host plant. Photos at Bug Guide show the larvae on fronds of Osmunda fern.

 

Some brief information on Northern Petrophora (Petrophora subaequaria)

Taxonomy
Superfamily Geometroidea (Geometrid and Swallowtail Moths)
Family Geometridae (Geometrid Moths)
Subfamily Ennominae
Tribe Lithinini
Genus/species Petrophora subaequaria

Description
Wing span to 19 mm, speckled tan forewings with yellowish veins, antemedial and postmedial lines white edged and parallel. There is a small black dot in the center of the wings.

Life cycle
As with many moths not directly injurious to crops and forestry there is little information on the life history of Northern Petrophora. With so many adult moths appearing now in my bracken field it seems that mating and egg laying occur in the spring.

Range
Northern Petrophora occurs in North America from New Brunswick to Alberta, along the Great Lakes east to New England, and then south sporadically along the Appalachians to North Carolina.

 

SOURCES

Beadle, D. and Leckie, S. (2012). Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Boston. 640 pages.

Voss, Edward G. (1991) “Moths of the Douglas Lake Region (Emmet and Cheboygan Counties), Michigan: IV. Geometridae (Lepidoptera),” The Great Lakes Entomologist: Vol. 24 : No. 3 , Article 11. Available at: http://scholar.valpo.edu/tgle/vol24/iss3/11

Species accounts at Bug Guide, Moth Photographers Group, HOSTS,

 

 

 

Two new species last night

 

I didn’t find five new species last night like I had hoped to but I did find two, Curved-toothed Geometer (Eutrapela clemataria) in the Family Geometridae (Geometrid Moths) and Gray Leafroller (Syndemis afflictana) in the Family Tortricidae (Tortricid Moths), which, like almost all the moths I’ve found to date, are new records for Carlton County. These two species bring the checklist to 197 species.

Curved-toothed Geometer is similar in appearance to Large Maple Spanworm (Prochoerodes lineola, Family Geometridae) but can be told apart by its scalloped wing margins, hooked wing tips, and the pale yellow postmedial line across the forewings. Color of the forewings varies from light brown to dark purplish brown to brownish gray and may be mottled with fine spots. The range of Curved-toothed Geometer is east of the Mississippi River and north into southern Canada. Larvae of Curved-toothed Geometer feed on many trees including ash (Fraxinus spp.), basswood (Tilia spp.), birch (Betula spp.), elm (Ulmus spp.), and poplar (Populus spp.).

Two moths seen in the last several days returned: Agonopterix pulvipennella (Family Depressariidae) and Black-dashed Hydriomena (Hydriomena divisaria, Family Geometridae (Geometrid Moths)).

 

 

And there were some moths first seen here last summer. Two of them, Pale Metanema (Metanema inatomaria) and Dark Metanema (Metanema determinata) are in the Family Geometridae (Geometrid Moths). The other, Apical Prominent (Clostera apicalis), is in the Family Notodontidae (Prominent Moths) and is one of two species of Clostera I have found the other being Sigmoid Prominent (C. albosigma). Apical Prominent differs from Sigmoid Prominent by the wavy postmedial line that borders a large rust colored apical patch and by the kinked oblique median line of the forewing as compared to the parallel lines of Sigmoid Prominent. The larvae of all four species feed on aspen (Populus spp.) and willows (Salix spp.). These moth species occur over most of the US and southern Canada.

 

 

Although I am feeling a bit tired I think I will put in a few hours tonight looking for moths again.

SOURCES

Beadle, D. and Leckie, S. (2012). Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Boston. 640 pages.

Species accounts at Bug Guide and Moth Photographers Group.

Moth Species 195

Powdered Bigwig (Lobophora nivigerata)

 

The previous moth count on May 18 was 190 species but after last night it stands at 195 species. The moth shown above is the Powdered Bigwig (Lobophora nivigerata) and species 195. I’m not sure why it is called Powdered Bigwig although the wings do have a powdery look. It is one of the Geometers (Family Geometridae). The Powdered Bigwig was one of several that came to my porch light after sunset until about 2 AM when I decided to call it a night. Other species seen and added to the list in the last few days are Lesser Aspen Webworm Moth (Meroptera pravella, Family Pyralidae), Signate Melanolophia (Melanolophia signataria, Family Geometridae), Black-Dashed Hydriomena (Hydriomena divisaria, Family Geometridae), and One-eyed Sphinx (Smerinthus cerisyi, Family Sphingidae).

I’m hoping tonight to add five more species.