We’re finishing up National Moth Week today but don’t let my tardiness in reminding you stop you from admiring these abundant insects. I say abundant because there are almost 11,000 native moths in the US, far more than native butterflies (about 800).
Last year, a new field guide for southeastern North America was published: Peterson Field Guide to Moths. It’s very thick and covers plume moths, twirler moths, pugs, daggers, sallows, darts and easily two dozen more very interestingly-named groups! Surely we all know the sphinx and the silk moths? Those are some of our biggest ones.
At first I was puzzled about how to use this guide. I could not simply flip through 600 pages and reasonably expect to spot my mystery moth! The guide talks about first verifying it is a moth (vs. a butterfly) by looking at the antenna: moths have threadlike or feathery antenna while butterflies have antenna that terminate in a club shape. You should also take note of the overall size, of course, because some moths with the same shape are different species based on the size. I found the best way (for me) to use this book is to flip to the very end of the book where there is a two page spread of silhouettes. Match the shape of your mystery moth to the silhouette and then go to the section that has pictures.
So, if you’re interested in the bugs around you, add this book to your library. Use it with your caterpillar identification guide and your butterfly guide. Previous blogs of mine that talk about moths include:
This Southern Pink Moth is one of my favorite tiny moths and I spotted it again this week, hanging around the salvia (one of its host plants). I love the pink-on-pink effect of this photo.
|Southern pink moth is very tiny; this is a Salvia coccinea flower|
And we'll just finish this out with an adorable picture of the yellow-striped oakworm moth (Anisota peigleri) which emerged in my yard in late June. Look at those antenna!