In Albany’s Pine Bush recently Daisy and I came across a pair of moths that were, we assume, mating. Neither of us had ever seen such a moth, nor had we ever seen any moths mating so it was, um, interesting. Anyway, I sent some pictures over to Patrick and he quickly responded with an identification which was a good thing as I never would have figured this one out on my own.

Buck Moths getting buck wild

The Buck Moth (Hemileuca Maia) is a diurnal moth that emerges in late fall or early winter. Their host plants for their caterpillars are a variety of oaks, which makes sense, seeing as the Pine Bush is loaded with Scrub Oaks like the one below.

Scrub Oak acorns

According to Butterflies and Moths of North America the Buck Moth emerges in the morning, mates in the early afternoon, which is when we observed the loving above, and lays eggs (well, the females do anyway) in the late afternoon in rings around the twigs of the host.

The male of the Buck Moth is easy to distinguish; it is smaller and has a red-orange tipped abdomen. While we were watching one pair the male squirted a bunch of unidentified liquid on the ground, which I think might have been related more to the fact that we were too close than anything to do with the mating. Not that we looked too closely after that. Anyway, enjoy the rest of the pictures of these most interesting and lovely-colored creatures.

Buck Moths

Moth porn?

cool antennas

Buck Moth back view

And if you want to see the rather ugly caterpillar of the Buck Moth, click here.

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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.