Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard

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For their cousins the moths, things are a little more challenging. Maybe because they are often unseen and generally go about by nighttime, they just don't seem to be as popular. Discovering Moths. This one happens to be a daylight flying moth. The Butterflies and Moths of North America website is helpful for moths too. Virginia Ctenucha. For wildflowers, I have to use a variety resources to track them down. It seems to be a little more challenging to identify wildflowers than butterflies.


Buy Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard on ✓ FREE SHIPPING on qualified orders. I bought the book awhile back and read it while vacationing. I truly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who's interested enough in.

This is a handy small size, so if I carry a book into the field with me, it's this one. WildflowersGrasses and Other Plants. The photos in this book generally match what I see in the field better than other books. It is in this book I found out the following wildflower is a Bracted Spiderwort and that it can be seen anywhere from pale pink to dark purple or blue.

Hill Station moth trapping

Ivory-marked Beetle Eburia quadrigeminata. Pickerel Rush grows in the pond on the left. The tall plants with yellow flowers in the background are Cup Plant. Cardinal Flower nectar is enjoyed by a Spicebush Swallowtail that lost part of its left hindwing. Probably a hungry bird tried unsuccessfully to capture this butterfly.

Yellow flowers of the tall Cup Plant Silphium perfoliatum in background. Spicebush Swallowtail Papilio troilus missing part of left hindwing on Cardinal Flower Lobelia cardinalis. Cup Plant attracts many pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and moths. One of many bumble bees that worked hard gathering nectar and pollen during the day sleeps on a Cup Plant flower.

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At night, I often find bumble bees sound asleep on flowers in my garden. Silphium perfoliatum. Bumble bee sleeping on Cup Plant Silphium perfoliatum at night.

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After raising one successful brood, the House Wrens have a second set of nestlings that will soon leave the nest box. House Wren Troglodytes aedon nestlings in nest box. Bumble Bee on Flowering Raspberry Rubus odorata. Several types of native bees are busy pollinating my flowers. Of special interest, bumble bees are performing buzz pollination on my Flowering Raspberry flowers. Bumble bees vibrate their wings at specific frequencies to get some species of flowers to release their pollen.

Flutterly Fascinating

Note that bumble bees are used for buzz pollination of a number of crops, including tomatoes, blueberries, eggplants, and cranberries. The non-native honeybee is not able to buzz pollinate. To watch and hear bumble bees performing buzz pollination in my yard, click here for the video. I feed it fresh leaves and within a week or so, it grows to over two inches long, molts into a brown caterpillar, and later burrows into the soil to pupate. I have to wait until next spring to see it emerge as a beautiful day-flying hummingbird-like moth.

Nessus Sphinx Moth Amphion floridensis caterpillar — early instar. Nessus Sphinx Moth Amphion floridensis caterpillar — last instar before pupation. One night a strange-looking treehopper, possibly a Buffalo Treehopper, appears near my porch light.

Mothing, for the inner scientist

Even more strange and ominous-looking, a very large robber fly the size of a large wasp hunts from a perch above my pond. These flies prey on large insects such as bees and wasps and will hang from one foot while devouring a victim. Possible Buffalo Treehopper Ceresa alta. Robber Fly likely Diogmites sp. Late Summer.

The nymph recently crawled out of the pond and shed its exoskeleton. Because I find numerous shed skins exuvia during the summer, I know that my pond produces a good number of dragonflies. Newly emerged Shadow Darner Aeshna umbrosa dragonfly dries and expands its wings. The shed skin exuvia from which a dragonfly emerged still hangs from a stem in the pond. Native bees continue to actively collect pollen. This one deposits the white pollen of Upland Ironweed into large pollen baskets on its hind legs.

Unknown native bee on Upland Ironweed Vernonia glauca. Two ants in the grass struggle to drag a grub to their nest. The grub must weigh many times more than they do. At night, this vine is a moth magnet, attracting beauties like the multi-colored Ailanthus Webworm moth and Tobacco Budworm moth. Spotted Orb Weaver Neoscona crucifera spider quickly paralyzes a moth that flies into its web. Spotted Orb Weaver Neoscona crucifera spider with moth wrapped in silk.

Both find insects on my native plants that will fuel their journeys to the tropics. A migrating Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas hunts insects by the pond. I watch it grow for almost a week. Then one night I make a gruesome discovery. A spider has found my caterpillar and is in the process of sucking its life fluids. However, I find another small Red-spotted Purple caterpillar a few feet away. If so, next summer it will grace my yard as another beautiful Red-spotted Purple butterfly.

Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard

Moths, really? During National Moth Week public and private moth-watching events will occur. Mothing, the practice of attracting, viewing, and photographing moths is growing immensely in popularity. After all, moth caterpillars eat tomato plants, make holes in wool clothes, eat flour and cereal in our kitchens, and can be agricultural pests.

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This is all true, but harmful moths are but a small fraction of moth species. Most are actually very important and beneficial to the environment. In fact, moths are closely related to our much-loved butterflies.

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All butterflies and moths have four wings covered with colored scales. Adult butterflies and moths also have a proboscis — a thin, straw-like tube for sipping nectar.

However, all butterflies fly during the day, but most moths fly at night. The tips of butterfly antennae are club-like, while moth antennae are. Butterflies antennae tips are club-like. Photo from National Moth Week. Moth antennae come in three forms.