Primrose Moth

Primrose Moth, Schinia florida

I’ve taken up jogging recently, much to my surprise. I never pegged myself as a jogger. The primary reason, aside from a lack of desire to do anything that so obviously resembled exercise, was that I was unlikely to be able to stick to the pace: I’d be inclined to stop and check things out and I’d do a whole lot more peering than jogging. I like to run, like the feeling of my blood pumping and the wind rushing past my face, but I’m not in shape to run very far (not to mention that whole stopping to look at stuff thing) so I’d usually just do our first field, a couple hundred meters, and then resume my walk.

But then I discovered audiobooks and suddenly I’m yearning to go exercise, if only so I can find out what happens next in the story. (I’m also wishing dinner took longer to prepare and I had more dishes to wash…) It’s my trade-off – if I go do this boring thing I wouldn’t ordinarily like to do, I am rewarded with story. So I’ve started jogging, to try to get myself in slightly better shape than my leisurely hiking keeps me. We have the rail trail at the foot of the property, and I take the dogs down there, jog some distance down it and come back.

At the farthest point of my loop there are quite a number of Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) plants growing at the trailside. A few days ago I noticed as I passed one that there were a couple of pink moths with their heads tucked into the yellow blossoms. Primrose Moths! I’ve been checking primroses for the last few years, but have never turned up any of these pretty little moths (the only individual of the species I’d encountered had come to my blacklight). I’ve also never had such a large patch of primroses to check before. Naturally, I didn’t have a camera with me – I was jogging, after all, and the last thing I needed was a camera thumping against my side.

Primrose Moth, Schinia florida

I figured they’d be long gone the next day when I came back that way, so once again I didn’t bring my camera. The two I’d seen were gone, yes, but I discovered another on a flower in a different spot. So yesterday when I went out I grabbed my little point-and-shoot, which virtually never gets used except in unusual circumstances like this, shoved it in the back pocket of my shorts and hoped there’d be one there.

I wasn’t disappointed, though it was close to the end of my sweep and I was worried I might not turn any up, now that I had the camera with me. (Animals are typically quite camera-shy, you know. They usually only appear when they know you’re not carrying one, or you have the wrong lens.) I found a single individual, head deep in one of the yellow blooms. I still haven’t quite figured out macro mode on the point-and-shoot, but I ran off a bunch and a few of them turned out alright.

Primrose Moths (Schinia florida) seem to be widespread, occurring from the Rockies east, but uncommon or locally common. Their host plants are evening primrose, but rather than eat the leaves the caterpillars target the flower buds. The adults are usually found tucked into the flowers during the daytime, though they’ll sometimes come to light at night, too. I thought they just rested in the flower, but when I looked closely at this one I could see it had its proboscis extended down into the flower, so I assume it was actually sipping nectar.

Incidentally, the primroses are night-bloomers, with their flowers starting to close up by the heat of mid-day, something I hadn’t realized prior to now. This would explain why sometimes when I went out I didn’t see many fully-open flowers (and the moths were all on flowers that were fully-open). So note to self (and others): look for Primrose Moths mid-morning, when the day is warming up but the flowers aren’t yet closed.


Author: Seabrooke

Author of Peterson Field Guide to Moths. #WriteOnCon Mastermind. Writer of action/thriller SF/F YA. Story junkie. Nature nut. Tea addict. Mother. Finding happiness in the little things. Twitter: @SeabrookeN / @SeabrookeLeckie

9 thoughts on “Primrose Moth”

    1. Glad it helped with an ID, Karen! Yes, I’m loving the audiobooks. Suddenly all those boring chores I would try to foist off on Dan are no longer so boring. In fact, I kind of look forward to doing them!

    1. I agree. It’s the one thing I missed when I traded up for a DSLR – that portability. It doesn’t take great photos, but at least it /does/ take photos, which is more than I’d be able to do otherwise!

    1. Oh, hope you get some rain and/or cooler weather your way, Marvin! We haven’t had to mow the grass for weeks, it’s been pretty hot and dry, but at least we’ve had enough thunderstorms rolling through to keep the plants from completely packing it in.

    1. There sure is, Anne! A lot of people use their cell phones these days. I have a cell phone, but it’s not a smartphone and I still haven’t figured out how to get the photos off it…

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