Night of the Micros

 

For some reason micro-moths (not a proper taxonomic group but a group of convenience) were well represented under my porch light the past two nights. Getting a clear picture of these 2 to 4 mm long moths is no easy task with a cellphone and some are just tantalizing blurs. Still, I recorded fourteen species of micro-moths which, with the exception of Diamondback Moth (Plutella xylostella, Family Plutellidae), a Leaf Blotch Miner Moth (Caloptilia stigmatella, Family Gracillariidae), and Many-plume Moth (Alucita montana, Family Alucitidae), and two species of Agonopterix (Agonopterix pulvipennella and Agonopterix atrodorsella, Family Depressariidae), are unidentified. There are two micro-moths, Mompha (Family Momphidae) and Parornix (Family Gracillariidae), identified to genus only because microscopic features are necessary for accurate determination.

As for larger moths (macro-moths) six species were seen. They are Sigmoid Prominent (Clostera albosigma, Family Notodontidae), Powdered Bigwing (Lobophora nivigerata, Family Geometridae), Small engrailed (Ectropis crepuscularia, Family Geometridae), Bicolored Woodgrain (Morrisonia evicta, Family Noctuidae), Norman’s Quaker Moth (Crocigrapha normani, Family Noctuidae), and Large Ruby Tiger Moth (Phragmatobia assimilans, Family Erebidae).

Morrisonia evicta, Crocigrapha normani, Ectropis crepuscularia, Phragmatobia assimilans, and Agonopterix atrodorsella are new records as are Mompha (M. luciferella?) and Parornix (P. obliterella?), neither of which can be properly identified to species by visual inspection of gross morphology alone, thus bringing the moth checklist up to 204 species.

 

 

Some brief notes on the new macro-moths and the micro-moth Agonopterix atrodorsella

Morrisonia evicta
Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin)
Family Noctuidae (Owlet Moths)
Subfamily Noctuinae (Cutworm or Dart Moths)
Tribe Orthosiini

Larval host plants: A large variety of woody plants including blueberry (Vaccinium), cherry (Prunus), chokeberry (Aronia), dogwood (Cornus), and hazel (Corylus).
Range: Northeastern US to Georgia and North Carolina and southern Canada. Scattered reports from Montana, Florida, and Texas.

 

Crocigrapha normani
Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin)
Family Noctuidae (Owlet Moths)
Subfamily Noctuinae (Cutworm or Dart Moths)
Tribe Orthosiini

Larval Host plants: ash (Fraxinus), aspen (Populus), birch (Betula), cherry and plum (Prunus), oak (Quercus), mountain ash (Sorbus), elm (Ulmus), and willow (Salix).
Range: Northeastern US to Georgia and South Carolina and in southern Canada.

 

Phragmatobia assimilans
Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin)
Family Erebidae
Subfamily Arctiinae (Tiger and Lichen Moths)
Tribe Arctiini (Tiger Moths)
Subtribe Spilosomina

Larval Host plants: balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), raspberry (Rubus), and paper birch (Betula papyrifera).
Range: Northeastern US to Georgia and South Carolina and in southern Canada.

 

Ectropis crepuscularia
Superfamily Geometroidea (Geometrid and Swallowtail Moths)
Family Geometridae (Geometrid Moths)
Subfamily Ennominae
Tribe Boarmiini

Larval Host plants: balsam fir (Abies balsamea), hemlock (Tsuga canadense), larch (Larix), spruce (Picea), apple (Malus), alder (Alnus) and many other tree and shrub species.
Range: Over much of North America and in Eurasia.

Agonopterix atrodorsella
Superfamily Gelechioidea (Twirler Moths and kin)
Family Depressariidae
Subfamily Depressariinae

Larval Host plants: joe-pye weed (Eupatorium), beggars ticks (Coreopsis and Bidens).
Range: New England, Great Lakes Region, Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and few locations in Kentucky, Maryland, and North Carolina.

 

Agonopterix atrodorsella

 

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, BAMONA, HOSTS, and Moth Photographers Group.

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.

 

Mothing Update April/May

Phyllodesma americana
American Lappet Moth (Phyllodesma americana)

 

I’ve been trying to wrap up this post but keep finding more moths. At the end of last week I had 6 identified moth species and 5 unidentified species since seeing the first moth of 2018 on April 18th. Over the weekend I added five more: American Lappet Moth (Phyllodesma americana), Willow Dart Moth (Cerastis salicarum), Variable Carpet Moth (Anticlea vasiliata), Featherduster Agonopterix (Agonopterix pulvipennella), and Mottled Black-marked Moth (Semioscopis aurorella) bringing the count to 11 species. But as of Tuesday (May 15) the count now stands at 16 species when I added these five: Multiform Leafroller Moth (Acleris flavivittana), Snowy-shouldered Acleris (Acleris nivisellana), Strawberry Moth (Acleris fragariana), Bent-wing Acleris (Acleris subnivana), and The Herald Moth (Scoliopteryx libatrix). And I have added six more to the “Unknown Moths” file four of which are discussed at the end of the post. So, a lot of new moth species for the property’s species checklist and summer is still a month away.

On to the featured image and the other new moths

The American Lappet Moth shown above is much more blue than is typical for the species which is yellowish-brown or reddish to almost orange. It is in the Tent Caterpillar family (Lasiocampidea) and the larvae feed on alder (Alnus spp.) birch (Betula spp.), oak (Quercus spp.), and rose (Rosa spp.). American Lappet Moth occurs over almost all of North America north of Mexico.

 

 

Willow Dart Moth (Cerastis salicarum) is in Noctuidae (Owlet Moths), Subfamily Noctuinae (Cutworm or Dart Moths) but different tribes (Noctuini and Xylenini respectively). Larval host plants of Willow Dart Moth are thought to be willows (Salix spp.) but this may not the case. The range of Willow Dart Moth is from southern Canada to the northern US.

Variable Carpet Moth (Anticlea vasiliata) is in the Family Geometridae (Geometrid Moths), Subfamily Larentiinae. Its larvae feed on red raspberry (Rubus idaeus). Variable Carpet Moth occurs from Newfoundland to North Carolina and Tennessee, west to California and British Columbia.

Featherduster Agonopterix (Agonopterix pulvipennella) and Mottled Black-marked Moth (Semioscopis aurorella) are in the moth Superfamily Gelechioidea (Twirler Moths and kin), Family Depressariidae, Subfamily Depressariinae. The larvae of Featherduster Agonopterix feed on the leaves of goldenrod (Solidago spp.) and stinging nettle (Urtica spp.). Those of Mottled Black-marked Moth feed on leaves of Prunus spp. (plums, cherries). Featherduster Agonopterix occurs from Quebec and New Brunswick to Georgia and Mississippi, and north to Saskatchewan. Mottled Black-marked Moth occurs from southeastern Canada to the northeastern US as far south as Virginia and Indiana.

 

 

Multiform Leafroller Moth (Acleris flavivittana), Strawberry Moth (Acleris fragariana), Bent-wing Acleris (Acleris subnivana), and Snowy-shouldered Acleris (Acleris nivisellana) are in the Family Tortricidae (Tortricid Moths), Subfamily Tortricinae, Tribe Tortricini. All four species range from southern Canada to the northeastern US with scattered occurrences from Louisiana to Georgia. Snowy-shouldered Acleris and Strawberry Moth are also found from California to British Columbia.

Strawberry Moth (Acleris fragariana) is a generalist feeder on members of the Rosaceae. Larval hosts include strawberry (Fragaria spp.), blackberry (Rubus spp.), rose (Rosa spp.), plum (Prunus spp.), cinquefoil (Potentilla spp.), and black chokeberry (Photinia melanocarpa).

Snowy-shouldered Acleris (Acleris nivisellana) larvae feed on pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) and Multiform Leafroller Moth (Acleris flavivittana) feed on apple (Malus spp.) and pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica). The larvae of Bent-wing Acleris (Acleris subnivana) are more specialized feeding on red oak (Quercus rubra) but also Vernonia spp. (ironweed) which is a herbaceous plant in the aster family (Asteraceae). Note: The Bent-wing Acleris I have here looks a little like what I thought might be (but wasn’t very sure of) Forbes’ Acleris (Acleris forbesana) in an earlier post. I will have to revisit that one.

The Herald Moth (Scoliopteryx libatrix) is in the Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin), Family Erebidae, Subfamily Scoliopteryginae, Tribe Scoliopterygini. Its larvae feed on poplar (Populus spp.) and willow (Salix spp.). There are typically two generations a summer. The last generation overwinters in the adult form in cavities, shed walls, and caves and emerges in the spring. The Herald Moth is a Holarctic species which in the North American part of its range occurs from southern Canada and over much of the US.

Some unknown moths no longer unknown

Also, in the past couple of weeks I have figured out several more moths from last summer’s photos. Among them are Large Mossy Lithacodia Moth (Protodeltote muscosula), Morrison’s Sooty Dart Moth (Pseudohermonassa tenuicula), Jeweled Tailed Slug Moth (Packardia geminata), and Garden Tortix (Clepsis peritana). With the newly identified species from last year and this year the moth species checklist is now at 190 species.

 

 

Large Mossy Lithacodia Moth (Protodeltote muscosula) is in the Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin), Family Noctuidae (Owlet Moths), Subfamily Eustrotiinae. The larvae are reported to feed on feed on sawgrass (Cladium) which is not a grass but a sedge (Cyperaceae). Because the only Cladium in Minnesota is Cmariscoides, a rare species, I suspect this moth’s larvae also feed on other wetland species of Cyperaceae. Large Mossy Lithacodia occurs over much of the eastern US east of the Great Plains and parts of southern Ontario and Quebec.

Morrison’s Sooty Dart Moth (Pseudohermonassa tenuicula) is in the Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin), Family Noctuidae (Owlet Moths) Subfamily Noctuinae (Cutworm or Dart Moths), Tribe Noctuini, Subtribe Noctuinaarvae. Larvae feed on mannagrass (Glyceria spp.) a plant commonly found in wetlands. Morrison’s Sooty Dart Moth ranges across the northern United States and southern Canada and north to Northwest Territories.

Jeweled Tailed Slug Moth (Packardia geminata) is in the Superfamily Zygaenoidea (Flannel, Slug Caterpillar, Leaf Skeletonizer Moths and kin), Family Limacodidae (Slug Caterpillar Moths). The green slug-like larvae are polyphagous and feed on a variety of plants such as cherry and plum (Prunus spp.) and wild raisin and arrowwood (Viburnum spp.). Jeweled Tailed Slug Moth occurs in the eastern US east of the Great Plains and in southern Ontario and Quebec.

Garden Tortix (Clepsis peritana) is in the Superfamily Tortricoidea (Tortricid Moths), Family Tortricidae (Tortricid Moths), Subfamily Tortricinae, Tribe Archipini. Larvae are generalist feeders. Among the plants they have been observed eating are strawberry (Fragaria spp.), cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), hedgenettle (Stachys spp.) and other low plants. Dying or dead leaves are the preferred food source but they will eat the fruit of strawberries. The larvae also eat dead citrus leaves in groves and will switch to live leaves once these are used up or caterpillar populations are high. Garden Tortix occurs widely across North America.

And this

 

caterpillar
Unknown moth larva

 

A small brown moth larva I found the other day in a wetland on a clump of Canada bluejoint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis). Species? I don’t yet. That’s it for now.

 

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, Moth Photographers Group, Tortricid.net, HOSTS – a Database of the World’s Lepidopteran Hostplants, and Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

E. L. Atkins, Jr., E. L. (1958). The Garden Tortrix, Clepsis peritana (Clemens): A New Economic Pest in Southern California. Journal of Economic Entomology, Vol. 51(5): 596–598.