Thursday, July 23, 2015

Moth Week Quiz: How many do you know?

I guess we could say that these two moths are celebrating their marriage. 
Note the enormous antennae on the male on the left.  The better to detect your scent with, my dear!
Oh gosh, here it is almost the end of National Moth Week and I haven't even started to celebrate!  There are lots of reasons to celebrate moths (except maybe not for the ones that destroyed a whole drawer of my husband's wool sweaters), but most especially for their fascinating variety.  Not all are pollinators (some don't even have mouthparts for eating) and not all are beautiful (although some of the plainest moths have the most exquisite caterpillars). Since my knee injury has limited my outdoor excursions pretty much, I didn't go looking for moths outside, but went searching my past blogs and photo archives instead.  Turns out, I  have quite a number of photos, of adult moths as well as their caterpillars.  I'm posting those photos now, and inviting my readers to guess which moths they are.  I'll come back in a couple of days and add captions to identify them.

1.  This is the same moth as in the mating pair above.

Cecropia (Hyalaphora cecropia), the day after she emerged from the cocoon. She has already been found by her mate and will live only a few days after mating and laying her eggs.

2. One of the giant silk moths and one of our most beautiful of all.

Luna (Actias luna), another moth that has no mouth parts so will live only long enough to breed and propagate the next generation.

3.  No, it's not a hummingbird, but it sure acts like one!

Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thisbe) sipping nectar from Wild Bergamot

4.  When the wings are closed, they form a black Fleur-de-lis, but reveal a bright gold underwing when open.

Clymene Moth (Haploa clymene), sometimes called the Crusader Moth because its closed wings resemble the shields carried by Christian soldiers during the Crusades.

5. Love the furry orange epaulets on this colorful moth!

Eight-spotted Forester (Alypia octomaculata).  The other four spots are on the underwings.

6. More subtle in its coloring, but exquisite nonetheless.

Walnut Sphinx (Amorpha juglandis) lays its eggs on Walnut trees.

7.  This moth has an abdomen as brightly orange as the furry patch below its head. Love those striped forelegs and elegant antennae!

Virginian Tiger Moth (Spilosoma virginica)

8.  I think this moth is mistakenly named, since its "collar" is orange and not yellow.  But see how blue its abdomen is beneath those chocolate-brown wings.

Same moth as above, but a mating pair of them.  I thought at first sight it was one super-long bug.

Okay, these moths may NOT be the same.  I originally thought they were all three the Yellow-collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvicollus) ), but the blue abdomen of the first moth indicates it is more likely a Virginia Ctenucha Moth (Ctenucha virginica). Since I can't see the abdomens of the mating pair, they may well be Yellow-collared Scapes.  Any help on this subject is most welcome.

9.  Note the delicate fringe on the wings and the elegant coloring.  Like very expensive ladies' lingerie.

Lace Border Moth (Scopula limboundata).  Aptly named!

10. Such subtle pale-green coloring.  Exquisite!

Pale Beauty Moth (Campaea perlata), another moth with a very apt common name

11.  A really strange-looking moth, indeed!

Geranium Plume Moth (Dejongia lobidactylus)

And now we have some moth larvae, better known as caterpillars.

12. Looks soft and furry as a Snow Leopard, but like that sharp-clawed cat, better not touch!

Hickory Tussock (Lophocampa caryae).  Like many furry caterpillars, it bears stinging hairs that can cause a painful rash.  Urge children NOT to touch furry caterpillars.

13. Another touch-me-not caterpillar, and quite a big one, too. As is its moth.  Big, I mean.

The Io Moth caterpillar (Automeris io).  Another stinging caterpillar.

14.  EVERYBODY knows the name of this caterpillar!  But do they know the name of its moth?

Wooly Bear is the larva of the Isabella Tiger Moth (Pyrrharctia isabella).  Although I handled Wooly Bears often as a child to no ill effect, I have read that their hairs can cause a prickling rash.

15.  Its tiger-stripe coloring warns predators that it has absorbed the toxins of the plant it feeds on.

Milkweed Tiger Moth caterpillar (Euchates egle).  I would think all that hairiness would discourage predators, too.

16.  One of our most colorful caterpillars, but will turn into one of our plainest moths.

Brown Hooded Owlet (Cucullia convexipennis). It's always a delight to find this lovely larva.

17. Here's another colorful caterpillar with a multicolored fur coat:

 I love this caterpillar's Cherry-Twizzler-red feet!.

The Virginia Ctenucha Moth caterpillar (Ctenucha virginica).  This is the larva of the blue-abdomened moth in photo 8 above, the one I confused with the Yellow-collared Scape Moth. The adult moths may be easily confused, but their caterpillars look quite different.  This one is more spectacular.

18.  Wow!  This furry caterpillar is certainly YELLOW!

Spotted Apetelodes (Apetelodes torrefacta).  This caterpillar may be astoundingly vivid, but its moth is no more colorful than a ragged piece of leaf duff.

19.  Looks as cuddly as a teddy bear.  But better not give it a hug.  The adult moth is furry, too, and safer to touch.

Called a Yellow Bear (although it can be quite ruddy or orange as well as yellow), this is the larva of the Virginia Tiger Moth (Spilosoma virginica) pictured above in photo 7.  Yes, this caterpillar can prickle you with venomous hairs, but the adult moth's snowy-white fur is as soft and harmless as a kitten's.

20. I love the toothbrush bristles on this beautifully colorful caterpillar, but I would not want to put it in my mouth!

White-marked Tussock Moth caterpillar (Orgyia leucostigma).  Another one with venomous hairs.  But wow, what a beauty, especially arrayed on a yellow-edged oak leaf that serves as a foil for its brilliant colors.

21. This amazing critter got mad at me and lashed those acid-emitting red whips around.

This Black-etched Prominent Moth caterpillar (Cerura scitiscripta) was just quietly moseying along until I poked my camera too close to it.  That's when it reared up and puffed up its fat front end, and out of those long prongs on its rear shot bright red tendrils, which it whipped about in a frenzy.  It was quite something to see!  The adult moth is more subtly colored, furry and white, etched with black markings.

PS:  Here's a link to find out some very cool things about moths.

PPS:  I found a video I made of that whip-lashing Cerura caterpillar.  Not very high-fidelity, but you get the picture:


Uta said...

This is better than a program at my Master Gardener classes. Very lovely.

Raining Iguanas said...

A moth colorful post. Butterflies beware...

threecollie said...

I knew the top few and then I was lost. Great post!

The Furry Gnome said...

Well, I recognize several of those, but certainly not the caterpillars! Look forward to the actual names.

Woody Meristem said...

Most of us will fail your quiz, or at best get an incomplete -- very nice photos of those colorful and interesting creatures.

Jens Zorn said...

Jackie --- As you go to your archives of extraordinary photographs, perhaps you would have the time to choose a dozen to grace a 2016 calendar? (This is a good time of year to plan a project of this sort). I'm sure that many of your fans would join to crowdsource the necessary funding.

Unknown said...

What a stunning post! Marvelous pictures!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks, dear readers, for weighing in on this moth "quiz." Believe me, I would not have been able to name more than a few, if I had to depend on memory alone. Since I gleaned these photos from past blog posts, I had their names right at hand as I copied the photos. And I STILL got one wrong! (See photo 8.) Many thanks to for identifying them all for me in the first place. This is an amazingly helpful site for learning the names of bugs.

Hannah said...

Your moth and caterpillar photos are fantastic! I especially enjoyed seeing the video of the Cerura cat everting the projections and stingers in a threatening manner, I had recently googled for an identity for it but saw no mention of this behavior. The only ones I've seen in my yard are the Tiger moth cats and adults, I have at least 3-4 species here.