A tremendous increase

Digrammia mellistrigata
One of the latest additions to the checklist is Digrammia mellistrigata (yellow-lined angle) a moth in the Geometridae (inchworms).

Since I last posted on the moth species diversity (a very long time ago) the list has gone from 270 to 761 species and will very likely continue to grow until winter puts a stop to insect activity outdoors. Some species were to be expected as they are common and widespread but there have been nights and a few days with interesting surprises. Eventually, the number of new additions will level off and then fall as the actual number of species is approached. But for the next year or two, about 50 new species will probably be added each season. Just in 2022 I’ve added 50 more species with July being the best month with 21 species. I’m not going to go through the whole list of new additions but below is a small sample of my favorites from the last few years. In some future posts I’ll be covering some unusual species occurrences while others will cover groups such as new Geometridae or new Crambidae I have found.


Cucullia convexipennis larva
Metanema inatomaria


Dejongia lobidactylus
Datana ministra


Epermenia albapunctella
Acronicta lepusculina larva


Schinia septentrionalis larva
Darapsa choerilus ( Azalea Sphinx Moth)


Elophila ekthlipsis
Plagodis phlogosaria

I think it’s about time to revive this blog

Well, I’ve been away for quite some time now. A lot has been happening here where I live and my life has gone through some changes. The biggest change is that I have officially retired. This happened right around the time of the COVID lockdown. Great timing, right?

This past July I finally got to take that vacation I was going to do in 2020 car camping and hiking in the Superior National Forest. That is one of the places where I used to work but this time the pace was relaxed and it didn’t matter if everything on the agenda was completed or not.

A micro-moth I found on the Superior Hiking trail in Lake County, Minnesota. It might be Landryia impositella or maybe a species of Scythris. Whatever species it is this moth is nectaring on big leaf aster in a sugar maple/paper birch forest.

I’ve also been doing a lot of exploring where I live and have found many more species of moths, one of my latest obsessions, as well as lichens, fungi, plants, and other living things. Back when I stopped posting the moth checklist was at about 470 species. Now, it is at 763 species and will probably go even higher before the winter weather arrives in late October.

Apantesis phalerata (harnessed tiger moth) one of the new moth species discovered this year at my porch light. Its presence marks a significant range extension north.

I’m building up the checklists on other insect species, too. While not as large (yet) as the moth lists they have been steadily growing. My focus is on bugs, beetles, wasps, and bees which is enough for now. Down below is one example of the new beetles on the checklist, Chlaenius tricolor (ground beetle), which under certain light conditions has a metallic iridescence. More will be coming soon.

I’ll be away from my desk…

Metanema inatomaria a species seen last summer on warm humid nights.


…during much of July and so will be posting a little less frequently. But summer has arrived and brings with it a new group of moths that love the hot and humid weather. Here are five of the seventeen new moths plus one returning visitor that showed up at my porch light over the weekend. I’ll be writing about these species later in August. There are already a few in the works on the moths Habrosyne scripta (almost done!), Oreta rosea, Phlogophora iris, Campaea perlata, and Monopis spilotella seen this year and last year.


Some Possible New State Records


One thing that often happens when doing an inventory of plants and animals in a particular region such as in the county where I live is the discovery of species not previously known from there. This has been my experience with plants in Carlton County beginning in 1992. Back then there was only Ownbey’s and Morley’s Vascular Plants of Minnesota: A Checklist and Atlas for plant species occurrences by county for Minnesota. The internet has greatly expanded the available information on species distributions and this holds for plants, lichens, and many kinds of animals such as moths. Many museums and universities have searchable databases listing taxa by region or even county level often on maps showing where these species have been found. Some even provide historical data such as when a particular species was seen and/or collected.

Unfortunately, finding a volume like Ownbey and Morley for moths even for a state seems pretty much out of the question. There are other sources of data on moth species occurrences although their reports may not be complete. The first two sources I rely on are the maps at the Moth Photographers Group (MPG) and Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA). Maps at MPG are based on archived specimens and are accurate to the county level. BAMONA is based on citizen-scientist contributions and these are accurate to township level. The weakness in both of these sources is the human factor. For both MPG and BAMONA there seem to be more records near larger population centers where colleges and universities, and hence entomologists and/or interested amateurs, are located compared to areas of the country with smaller populations and distant from colleges.

The third source I look to for Minnesota moths is a Minnesota DNR report (A Survey of Lepidoptera in Three Priority Areas of the Minnesota State Parks System) published in 2009. This report lists all the moth (768) and butterfly (72) species found in thirteen Minnesota state parks between southeastern and northeastern Minnesota over a two-year period. Jay Cooke State Park, which is in Carlton County in northeastern Minnesota, was not included in the survey. The purpose of the survey was to determine what other lepidopteran species might be affected if a Bt spraying program were initiated to control the introduced Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar dispar), a potential pest insect in the state. Thankfully, Bt was not used and a mating disrupting pheromone was instead.

I have not done a complete list of new species records for Carlton County because it does not matter as almost every moth I find is a new record for the county. However, as I add more species to the checklist I have noticed that some appear to be new records for the state. Four of these are shown in the photo gallery above. These are not the only ones just some of the most recent. Looking at the maps at MPG and BAMONA it quickly becomes clear that there is a deficit in the record of the lepidopteran fauna of Carlton County (not too unlike the record of the county’s flora). One could get the impression that there is little moth biodiversity here but that would be a mistake. As of June 15, I have photographed and identified almost 270 species of moths. Of these, 100 were photographed and identified this year over a two month period. Even more importantly all were taken on my property. What other species might be found in the oak-maple-basswood forests? Or the bogs? Or the cedar swamps?



Ownbey, G. B., and T. Morley. (1991). Vascular plants of Minnesota: a checklist and atlas. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 320 pages.

Quinn, Edward M., and Danielson, Ron. (2009). A Survey of Lepidoptera in Three Priority Areas of the Minnesota State Parks System Final Report. 49 pages.

Species accounts at Butterflies and Moths of North America

Species accounts at Moth Photographers Group