National Moth Night – part 2

6797 - Ennomos magnaria - Maple Spanworm

As suspected, the cool weather last night kept the moths in hiding. When I turned the light on at dusk it was already well below my 10 C (50 F) threshold, but I put it on anyway. Five moths tallied at the sheet in a couple of hours: four Maple Spanworms and a pinion (I think) whose identity remains a mystery.

pinion sp

The pinion was much too fast for me to manage to catch with a jar, and eventually disappeared under the nearby spruce and didn’t reemerge. I just got one wide-angle shot of it fluttering at the sheet, which, when cropped in tight, doesn’t provide me with enough field marks to be able to identify it, unfortunately.

6797 - Ennomos magnaria - Maple Spanworm

It’s a shame about the weather, really. Cool nights can really have a negative effect on the productivity of your moth lights. If this had been a beautiful Indian Summer weekend, with nightime lows of 15 C (60 F) or so, I would expect to have had a really interesting assortment of moths for the two nights. Ah well. Perhaps next year.

I hope others had better luck with their sheets! Don’t forget to submit your posts to the next The Moth and Me by October 13 – email your link to next month’s host Lori of Reflections on the Catawba, loriowenby [at] gmail [dot] com, or to myself.

Also, don’t forget that today, Sunday, is International Rock-Flipping Day! Go out and flip a rock – or two, or three – and see what you find underneath. Write about it on your blog and submit your post to Susannah at Wanderin’ Weeta (wanderinweeta AT gmail D0T com) for inclusion in the event’s compilation of participants.


National Moth Night – part 1

6797 - Ennomos magnaria - Maple Spanworm2

Tonight is the first of two nights designated for National Moth Night (perhaps more accurately National Moth Weekend) in Britain, which I mentioned in The Moth and Me. I’m encouraging those of us on the west side of the pond to join in, too – why should they have all the fun? – and make this a weekend of discovery, in combination with International Rock-Flipping Day on Sunday. If you missed tonight, you’ll also have tomorrow (Saturday) night to put out your lights for moths.

I wouldn’t be much of a promotions person for the event if I didn’t go out there and do it myself, so this evening, despite that the winds were still strong enough to tug at the sheet, and the temperature was 12 C (54 F) at dusk, with a forecasted low of 6 C (43 F), I put out my mercury vapour lamp and white sheet to see what I could manage to draw in.

The answer: not very much. I finally shut the light off at 10pm, when the temperature had fallen to 8.5 C (47 F). Generally speaking, I don’t usually bother mothing below 10 C (50 F) since so little tends to fly at those temperatures. I got seven individuals, total. Three of the seven were the above, a Maple Spanworm (Ennomos magnaria). These unique moths tend to be very speckled and hold their wings at an angle, elevated from the surface they’re resting on. I had one settled in the grass beside the light, above…

6797 - Ennomos magnaria - Maple Spanworm3

One scurrying up and down the sheet restlessly…

6797 - Ennomos magnaria - Maple Spanworm1

And one hanging out on the screening of the porch, near the porch light.

9952 - Eucirroedia pampina - Scalloped Sallow

The only other macromoth (taxonomically those usually in the latter half of the field guides or on checklists, and physically, for the most part, the species larger than your fingernail) was this one, a Scalloped Sallow (Eucirroedia pampina). They’re fairly common at this time of year, and I recall even encountering them in the leaf litter of the forest around our house last fall.

5413 - Pediasia trisecta - Sod Webworm

I had a single crambid grass moth, which are one of the most common moths that you kick up out of the grass when you wade through a meadow. They’re usually seen as small, pale moths that flit away a few feet and then disappear into the stems. They disappear so well because they’re long and thin, and orient themselves parallel with the grass. I believe this one is a Sod Webworm (Pediasia trisecta).


And finally, there were two of these little moths. I don’t know what species it is; I suspect it’s a member of the family Tortricidae, but I could even be completely wrong on that. Those little micromoths (this one was less than a centimeter long) are often tricky to identify.

That was it for National Moth Night part 1 – hopefully part 2, tomorrow, goes a little better! But I’m not holding my breath. They’re calling for a risk of frost tomorrow night.