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.

It was a dark and stormy night

 

And warm, too, at a sweltering 50° F, so I made plans to be up late looking for moths and caddisflies. I turned on the porch light, made a little cup of espresso, and waited awhile. When I went out I almost couldn’t believe what I saw: Ancylis albacostana. The broad white band on the forewings certainly seemed to point to that species. But there were some differences. First, the wings are not uniformly leaden gray. Instead, there is a very noticeable amount of red forming a narrow triangle above the white band and is separated from that by a narrow black line. Then, below the white band is a narrow ash gray band. The main part of the forewings are leaden-gray. Finally, near the beginning of the forewings are two raised bumps. When I compared this moth to available photos it seemed not match well at all. The description of Ancylis albacostana by Kearfott is also at odds with this moth’s appearance. In an earlier post (here) I stated I had found Ancylis albacostana but later retracted that (there) when it appeared the moth in question was actually Capis curvata.

Also attracted to the light last night were five individuals of the caddisfly Glyphopsyche irrorata and three of the moth Agonopterix argillacea. I’ll be up late again tonight to get more photos of this Ancylis and other moths.

 

 

SOURCES

Kearfott, William Dunham (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 on page 360.

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

Four new finds in the moth photo files and a rediscovery

Cosmopterix fernaldella (in red circle). C. fernaldella measures about 5 to 6 mm long. The larger moth is unidentified for now.

 

One looks like a positve id: Cosmopterix fernaldella (Fernald’s Cosmopterix Moth). Photos of the other three, Olethreutes glaciana (a leaf-roller moth), Olethreutes permundana (Raspberry Leaf-roller Moth), and Capis curvata (Curved Halter Moth), are little blurry but have sufficient detail I think to make a species determination. O. permundana is the only one I am not completely sure of but it seems to fall within the variation for that species.

A very detailed description of Cosmopterix fernaldella is in The genera Cosmopterix Hübner and Pebobs Hodges in the New World with special attention to the Neotropical fauna (Lepidoptera: Cosmopterigidae) on pages 330 to 332.

The larva of Cosmopterix fernaldella is a leaf miner (feeds on leaf tissue in between the upper and lower surface layers of the leaf) on Carex (sedges, Family Cyperaceae). The leaves of Carex lacustris are mentioned in Insects (Diptera , Coleoptera, Lepidoptera) Reared from Wetland Monocots (Cyperaceae, Poaceae, Typhaceae) in Southern Quebec as a larval host on page 305. The US range of Cosmopterix fernaldella is from Maine to the Lower Peninsula of Michigan south to New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and as far west as Wisconsin and Minnesota. In Canada it ranges from Quebec to Ontario and British Columbia. Range map at Moth Photographers Group.

Cosmopterix fernaldella is in the Superfamily Gelechioidea, Family Cosmopterigidae,  Subfamily Cosmopteriginae.

 

Olethreutes glaciana larvae feed on maple (Acer), birch (Betula), and cottonwood (Populus). Range map at Moth Photographers Group.

Olethreutes permundana larvae feed on a variety of plant species from many families including meadowsweet (Spiraea salicifolia), ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), hazel (Corylus), sweetgale (Myrica), and hickory (Carya). Range map at Moth Photographers Group.

Ancylis albacostana larvae feed on maple (Acer). Range map at Moth Photographers Group. EDIT (04-13-2018): And a correction. After finding more photos of this moth in my files and going through the Plate Series at the Moth Photographers Group I think it is really Capis curvata. Larvae of C. curvata probably feed on sedges. Well, there is always this summer to find Ancylis albacostana.

Olethreutes glaciana and O. permundana are in the Superfamily Tortricoidea, Family Tortricidae, Subfamily Olethreutinae, Tribe Olethreutini and C. curvata is in the  Family Noctuidae, Subfamily Eustrotiinae.


Update on Eucosma (Pelochrista) dorsisgnatana and E. (Pelochrista) similiana: I found a few photos of the latter in my August files and have added its name back to the checklist which stands at 158 species now. I knew I’d seen  E. (Pelochrista) similiana before. Both species are shown below.

 

 

Both species are in the Superfamily Tortricoidea, Family Tortricidae, Subfamily Olethreutinae, Tribe Eucosmini. Recent taxonomic revisions now place many species once in Eucosma into Pelochrista. Larvae of both species feed on the roots of goldenrod (Solidago). Range maps for E. dorsisignatana and E. similiana can be found at the Moth Photographers Group.

 

SOURCES

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

F. Beaulieu and T. A. Wheeler (2002). Insects (Diptera , Coleoptera, Lepidoptera) Reared from Wetland Monocots (Cyperaceae, Poaceae, Typhaceae) in Southern Quebec. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. Volume 104, No. 2, pages 300 to 308.

J. C. Koster (2010). The genera Cosmopterix Hübner and Pebobs Hodges in the New World with special attention to the Neotropical fauna (Lepidoptera: Cosmopterigidae). Zoologische Mededelingen, 84 (2010), pages 251 to 575.

Bug Guide website

Moth Photographers Group website

A Summer of Mothing, Part 1

 

So I’m wondering how to begin this new blog and have decided to write a little bit about my mothing adventure last summer. It all began one morning in June when my Canon Rebel camera broke and I was left with just my Samsung cell phone and its camera. Up until that point I had not used the cell phone camera much and what I had taken with it was not that good. Now, with my favorite camera broken and short on funds for repairs or a replacement I had to learn to use the cell phone. I decided to photograph the moths that came to the porch light at night to learn more about the cell phone camera.

A few nights a week as sunset approached I would turn on the porch light. When it got dark I would carefully open the door and look around the light to see what had flown in. I was seldom disappointed. Warm humid nights were the best for moths. As the weeks went on it became apparent that there was a progression of moth species. Different moths have different flight times and very few will be seen all summer. And moths aren’t the only things attracted to the lights. Beetles, harvestmen, thrips, caddisflies, midges, and leaf hoppers all came to the light. I’m sure the harvestmen were hunting for small insects although they seem willing to eat anything. One was tasting a mix of molasses and overripe fruit I put out to attract moths.

 

Arctia cajas_014312A
Arctia caja, seen one night (August 1) and not again. It is one of the tiger moths.

 

I keep a list of the various plants and animals on my property adding to it whenever I find a new species. When I began my mothing project I had documented about 30 species or about two species a year. When the summer ended I had added another 102 moth species and many more unidentified but saved as photos. During my moth adventure last summer I found three sources extremely helpful for identifying moths. The first one is the Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America by David Beadle and Seabrooke Leckie. The other two are the BugGuide website and the Moth Photographers Group website. And now I have found another source to consult: Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA).