Moths

We don't see as many moths, since most of them are nocturnal. They're always nice to see, though, since they're interesting and attractive, too. It's too bad that so often I hear that something is "just a moth."

I've tried to be as accurate as possible with these identifications, and I consulted BugGuide.net for some. I'm by no means an expert, and I welcome corrections!

Nessus sphinx moth
(Amphion floridensis)
 ©Janet Allen Nessus sphinx

Another thanks to BugGuide.net volunteersfor help in this identification! I'm used to seeing sphinx moths with their wings moving so fast that they're just a blur. It's neat to see them when they're at rest, as this one is.

HOST PLANTS: Grapes

More nessus sphinx info at Butterflies and Moths of North America

Nessus sphinx moth
(Amphion floridensis)
 ©Janet Allen Nessus sphinx

Another view.

Eight-spotted forester
(Alypia octomaculata)
 ©Janet Allen Eight-spotted forester

I previously listed this as unidentified, but thanks to Doug in Alaska, I now know it's an eight-spotted forester, a diurnal moth. I see that its host plants are grapes (Vitis spp.) and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), both of which we grow. It's a charming little moth, so I hope we see it again.

HOST PLANTS: Grapes and Virginia creeper

More eight-spotted forester info at Butterflies and Moths of North America

Darling underwing moth
(Catocala cara)
 ©Janet Allen Darling underwing moth

This underwing moth (maybe a Darling underwing or Sweetheart underwing?) is a really pretty moth with beautiful coral-colored patches. Unfortunately, it's not a very good photo—he was moving too fast!

HOST PLANTS: Willows, cottonwoods, poplars

More darling underwing info at Butterflies and Moths of North America

Curved-tooth geometer
(Eutrapela clemataria)
 ©Janet Allen Caterpillar stick(Enlarge)

When I first saw this moth on our bee house, I wondered how a stick became attached to the front of the house. But when I looked a little later, I saw that it had lengthened until it spanned the whole front of the bee house (about 2 inches). It was alive! It turns out that it's a caterpillar in the Geometridae family. When viewed up close (see enlarged image) it looks remarkably like a stick. Incredible camoflage!

HOST PLANTS: Birches, maples, etc.

More curved-toothed geometer info at Butterflies and Moths of North America

Patalene
(Patalene)
 ©Janet Allen Patalene moth(Enlarge)

This is the caterpillar of the Patalene moth. It walks as a inchworm would walk, which is why it's in the Geometridae family, which roughly means "measuring the earth."

Confused haploa
(Haploa confusa)
 ©Janet Allen Haploa confusa moth

I don't know why this is called the confused haploa, but it's a cute little moth.

HOST PLANTS: A wide variety of plants, including Eupatorium and willow

More confused haploa info at Butterflies and Moths of North America

Hummingbird moth
(Hemaris thysbe)
 ©Janet Allen hummingbird moth(Enlarge)

Here's a sphinx moth, sometimes called hummingbird moth because some people mistake it for a baby hummingbird. I always enjoy spotting this one. It's easier to see this one than most moths since it's diurnal.

Here it's getting nectar from the native beebalm (Monarda). This must be one of its favorite flowers since all my photos of this moth over the years show it nectaring at this flower.

HOST PLANTS: honeysuckle, hawthorn, viburnum, black cherry, plum

More hummingbird moth info at Butterflies and Moths of North America

Isabella tiger moth
(Pyrrharctic isabella)
 ©Janet Allen Wooly bear

This moth is better-known in its caterpillar form: the familiar wooly bear. Traditionally, it was said to predict winter weather by the size of its stripe, but that didn't stand up to scientific scrutiny. Apparently the size of its stripes indicates the abundance of food in the growing season. Its other claim to fame does hold up, though: like this one, it's often seen crossing the road looking for a log or rock to overwinter under.

It becomes an Isabella tiger moth. They must be around, but I haven't noticed it either because it's only nocturnal or it just isn't noticeable. I'll try to find one next year.

HOST PLANTS: A variety of plants including birch, maples, asters, sunflowers, spinach, grass, plantain

More isabella tiger info at Butterflies and Moths of North America

Tebenna
(T. onustana)
 ©Janet Allen Mini-butterfly(Enlarge)

Thanks to BugGuide.net, I now know that this is a tebenna moth (Tebenna onustana). It's an intriguing little insect. On a sunny day, hundreds of these teeny-tiny things (just about 3 mm) flit about only on the pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) plants and nowhere else (that I have noticed anyway).

This tiny moth is a fine example of the beauty found in tiny things. Before I took this photo and enlarged it, I hadn't seen all the intricate jewel-like details. We miss so much when we just walk quickly by.

HOST PLANTS: (As far as I know) Pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) and pussytoes (Antennaria) depending on the particular species

White-marked tussock moth
(Orgyia leucostigma)
 ©Janet Allen Tussock moth(Enlarge)

(ID courtesy of bugguide.net) This is a white-marked tussock moth caterpillar. It's certainly elaborately decorated, unlike the adult moth form, which is fairly nodescript.

I found this one eating lettuce leaves. I don't know if they're a big problem. They don't seem to be a problem in our garden since they're rare.

HOST PLANTS: alder, apple, balsam fir, birches, larch etc.

More white-marked tussock info at Butterflies and Moths of North America

Polyphemus silk moth
(Antheraea polyphemus)
 ©Janet Allen Polyphemus caterpillar

What a spectacular caterpillar! Brilliant color and very large. My neighbor find this one in her yard and gave it to me to raise.

HOST PLANTS: birch, willow, oak, maple, hickory, beech, walnut etc.

More info at Butterflies and Moths of North America

Polyphemus silk moth
(Antheraea polyphemus)
 ©Janet Allen Polyphemus cocoon

This is the cocoon it created.