As I mentioned in my breakdown of the Birds of Chicken Inferno 2009, such as they were, moths were where the real action was. A number of lovely species appeared both night and day in great numbers, enough that eventually I had to put my beer down long enough to snap some shots. Apparently my Canon point and click wasn’t up to the task of taking crisp photographs of motionless moths, although I imagine the photographer himself deserves some of them blame. In any case, the following images contain enough detail that my friend Seabrooke Leckie of The Marvelous in Nature, a true moth maniac, was able to identify them.
Virginia Ctenucha (Ctenucha virginica)
Unmarked Dagger (Acronicta innotata)
Common Lytrosis (Lytrosis unitaria)
The first two of these moths were impressively common on the hill, as were luminous Snowy Geometers (Eugonobapta nivosaria) with their diaphanous four-lobed wings. Also ubiquitous were the following mundane moth equivalents to avian Little Brown Jobs:
This critter, I was thrilled to learn, is a Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth (Malacosoma disstria). Now, if you know the kind of malevolent impact tent caterpillars can have on a wooded area, you might wonder why I was happy to see veritable flocks of tent caterpillar moths. The reason has to do with a running disagreement I’ve had with my father-in-law, Will and brother-in-law, Seth. Will is one of the most remarkable naturalists I’ve ever known while Seth has become, as chronicled often in these virtual pages, a true birder. But when they saw swathes of deforestation like these…
…they attributed the damage to Gypsy Moth Caterpillars. While I blamed tent caterpillars, I must admit I bought their wild theories about gypsies eating from the top of the mountain down while tents chomped their way up or something like that. But when I saw this handsome fellow in the area…
..I felt that the evidence offered the edge to my theory. Further support came when the local paper ran a headline condemning Forest Tent Caterpillars for ravaging the local woods. You’d think that would have been enough but my father-in-law still seemed unconvinced. Perhaps learning that his home is teeming with tent caterpillar moths might finally sway him to reason!