Saturday, September 7, 2013

Happy Birthday, Henna!
Here are some little creatures I saw this summer to help celebrate your third birthday.  Hope you have a wonderful party!

This summer I have been fortunate to see a number of butterflies and moths.


This first butterfly I found sipping sap from a very old white oak tree near our house.  Its common name is Creole Pearly Eye.  The five eyespots on both forewing and hind wing help identify it. 

This is the underside view of a Question Mark Butterfly that landed on the window at the lab where I work.  It is a brush-footed or four-footed butterfly.  Insects have six legs, but these butterflies have very small brush like front legs, so it looks like it only has four legs.  Can you see the "question marks"?  One question mark is at the end of one of the back legs.  On the other wing you can see one sort of in the middle of the wing.  This butterfly has a cousin called the Comma Butterfly.  It has a mark on each wing that looks like a comma.

This big eyed butterfly is a Silver Spotted Skipper.  It is feeding on a Speedwell blossom.  Can you see the proboscis (a grayish tube) that it is using sip nectar from the bloom?  The butterfly can store this "drinking straw" by coiling it into a small spring shape.


A Luna Moth came to visit the lab one day.  Actually, we have seen several of these moths this summer at the lab.  This moth has large feather-shaped antenna that it uses to locate a mate by detecting her "aroma".

Another Luna Moth landed on the window a few days later.  This moths are in the silkmoth family.  The caterpillar spins its cocoon from silk that it makes

This is another moth from the silkmoth family.  It is a Tuliptree Silkmoth.  Its caterpillars eat the leaves of yellow poplar which is also called the tulip poplar or tuliptree.  It has sort of a "T-shaped" mark on the forewing and the hind wing.  

I saw this moth at a Moth Event in July at Prairie Ridge EcoStation.  This is a Rosy Maple Moth.  It is also in the silkmoth family.  I love the wonderful pink and yellow colors!  As their name suggests, the caterpillars feed mainly on the leaves of maple trees.

This Rosy Maple Moth landed on the page of a butterfly and moth book that was open to the page that describes it!
There are many kinds of sphinx moths.  This is a Hog Sphinx Moth.  It is also called the Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth because one of the foods that their caterpillars eat is the leaves of the Virginia Creeper vine.  The adults (moths) feed on the nectar of many different kinds of flowering plants.  They hover like a hummingbird and slip their proboscis into the flower and sip the sweet liquid.

This is a Grape Leaffolder Moth. The caterpillars eat the leaves of grapevines.  When the caterpillar is ready to make its cocoon, it makes three cuts in the leaf it is sitting on.  Then it folds the leaf around itself to make a sort of envelope and closes this pouch with silk.

This is a Tuliptree Beauty Moth.  Its caterpillar is one of the larger "inch worms".  The caterpillar feeds on the leaves of Pawpaws, Sassafras, Poplars, and Tuliptrees.  The moths in the "inch worm" family are also called geometers ("measures the earth") because of the way the caterpillar moves along a leaf.  If the caterpillar is frightened, often it will hold its body stretched out so that it appears to be a small twig.

Click here to see how an "inchworm" moves.

This is a Black-Bordered Lemon Moth.  Its caterpillars eat the leaves of Morning-Glories and certain grasses.  This is another moth I got to see at the Moth Event at Prairie Ridge EcoStation.  To attract the moths, the museum staff hung up lots of white bed-sheets on fences and on the sides of the building.  Then they setup several very bright lights.  The moths would fly in to check out the lights and when tired, would land on the sheets where we could look at them and take pictures.
This little tiny moth is a Southern Emerald Moth.  Its caterpillar is also a geometer, but a much smaller one.  It feeds on the leaves of blackberries and Black-eyed Susan as well as many other plants.
This unusual moth is called the Beautiful Wood Nymph.  Its "nickname" is the "Bird Poop Moth" because it disguises itself on a leaf or a twig as a "splash" of bird poop.

Happy Birthday, Henna!  

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