Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Micromoths of May

Umber moth- Hypomecis umbrosaria

May is the start of moth season on Bull Creek.  Leaving the porch light on Sunday night called in a haul of micromoths.  My definition is a moth less that an inch long.  The umber moth above is a good example, common, underappreciated and with little information the lifecycle.  It is in the Geometridae family whose name come from the inchworm larvae that seem to measure the earth as they crawl along.  There is another similar moth more common to the north which requires dissection to differentiate, so this is good enough for me.

Curved-lined angle moth

The curved-lined angle moth, Digrammia continuata, is another geometrid moth. This one has larvae feasting on our eastern red cedars.  This is another common find on the wall of our deck.  Its larva grows to 29mm, virtually an "inch-worm" before pupating in the soil over winter.  Soon they will be laying eggs on cedar trees, preparing for another year.

Small Necklace Moth
The small necklace moth, Hypsoropha hormos, is distinctive but like many of these micromoths, there isn't much on them easily available.  For me, the thrill is in the chase through INaturalist and other resources.  With a deep dive I found that their host plant is sassafras.



Below is it's cousin, the large necklace moth, Hypsoropha monilis.

Large Necklace Moth

Banded tiger moth
This banded tiger moth, Apantesis vittata, is a common find this time of year.  It is a beauty and we will be seeing them over several months.  They feed on a variety of herbs including dandelion.  Their bright aposematic colors help them ward off predators by signaling that they might have a bitter taste, (although no entomologist has reported tasting them).

Spcekled Lactura
Finally we have the speckled lactura, Enaemia subfervens. They feed on bumelia and are very common visitors on our porch.

There were several other species higher up that I couldn't get good photographs of.  You might try leaving your porch light on to see what comes in.  We also find occasional wing fragments on the ground suggesting that we are feeding other wildlife.