Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Beautiful Wood-Nymph (Eudryas grata)
May 29 , 2007

The Beautiful Wood-Nymph is often mentioned as a bird dropping mimic, but I just don’t see it that way. I had intended to go to sleep at a decent hour, but had turned the deck light on when it got dark. At 10 pm, I stepped outside to just take a quick look, figuring I’d be out for a moment then turn off the light when I saw this gorgeous animal on the wall. I could have gotten a good photo a lot quicker if I’d asked for an assistant right away. It was a lot easier to focus the camera once Jim pointed a flashlight at it – amazing how much easier it is to focus on an insect when you can actually see it!
Green Marvel (Agriopodes fallax)
May 25 , 2007

I’ve been photographing moths at the Missouri Department of Conservation office where I used to work as a research tech for the state waterfowl biologist. The building lights stay on all night and moths are frequently found on the exterior walls the next day. Friends have been phoning me when something cool shows up and I was really excited to see this Green Marvel. According to Butterflies and Moths of Missouri by Heitzman and Heitzman, this moth is fairly common in the Ozarks, but not as frequently found in the rest of the state.
Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)
May 18 , 2007

While out riding bikes, we saw this really cool caterpillar, which we identified as a Question Mark, a common woodland butterfly, crawling on a bridge railing along the Katy Trail. My March 12th blog post mentions an adult Question Mark coming to bait. The butterfly is named for the white Question Mark on the underside of the hind wing.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Warm-chevroned Moth (Tortricidia testacea)
May 12 , 2007

I ran a mercury vapor light as part of a BioBlitz organized by the Columbia Audubon Society. An 8 hour walk as part of the International Migratory Bird Count left us pretty tired and since we needed to set the alarm early the next morning, we weren’t able to stay very late.

But we had a few interesting insects, including a Black Corsair (see the April 2nd post) that I kept an eye on. My favorite moth for the night was this Warm-chevroned Moth (Limacodidae Tortricidia testacea).
Chickweed Geometer (Haematopis grataria)
May 11 , 2007

I finally took a few reasonably acceptable photos of this common geometrid moth. According to Heitzman and Heitzman (Butterflies and Moths of Missouri), the Chickweed Geometer occurs in all 114 Missouri counties in vacant lots and roadsides.
The Beggar (Eubaphe mendica)
May 8, 2007

I got covered in ticks and got spit from a spittle bug in my hair while laying down taking photos of moths on a levee surrounding a green tree reservoir at a friend’s house. His daughters were grossed out at the thought of insect spit – I kept it to myself that it came out of the other end.

Two cool moths in exchange for the ticks: Grape Leaf-folder Desmia sp. and The Begger (Eubaphe mendica).
Bird-dropping Moth (Antaeotrichia schlaegeri)
May 7, 2007

Walking through a mid-Missouri forest adjacent to a glade just before dusk, we found this bird-dropping moth (Antaeotrichia schlaegeri). These tiny moths are grass miners (Elachistidae).
Common Whitetails (Libellula lydia)
May 5, 2007

I spent most of the day at a pond in a small prairie. The 7 male Common Whitetails at the pond were frequently engaging in chases, and at one point the chasing seemed to intensify and I could hear them actually making contact with each other in flight. A quick search confirmed my guess as to what caused the commotion – the 7 males at the pond had been joined by a single female.

I also saw a frog capture and eat a small black spider while I was increasing my tolerance for frogs at the pond – it is inundated with small frogs and tadpoles. I guess I just wanted to look at the insects more than I wanted to get away from the frogs. A friend insists that most people like frogs. They’re fine, as long as they aren’t too close, but today I managed to remain sitting with one only 2 or 3 inches from me. It was worth it while I watched several species of water beetle and took this photo of the first backswimmer I saw in 2007.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Grape Leaf-folder Moth (Lepidoptera Crambidae Desmia sp.)
May 2, 2007

It rained off and on throughout the day. We were out hiking from 5:30 pm until dusk – it rained only at the beginning and end of the hike. It was fairly warm, so it wasn’t too bad despite being wet.

Just as the rain started, we saw a small black-and-white moth rushing for cover under a leaf. I didn’t get a great look (or a photo since I left my camera at home because of the rain), but I thought it was a Grape Leaf-folder Moth. The caterpillars feed on grapevines and construct small shelters by folding leaves over and securing them with silk. Here’s a photo of an adult on our tent in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a few years ago. (replaced with photo from 2009).
Ninebark (Physocarpus opifolius)
May 1, 2007

Ninebark shrubs were blooming, attracting a variety of flies, bees, butterflies and moths. A species of attractive Leaf Beetles (Chrysomelidae: Calligrapha spiraeae) live on Ninebark and the plants can tolerate their feeding on the leaves. Butterflies included Eastern Tailed-Blues (Everes comyntas) and Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui).

Two diurnal moths - an Eight-Spotted Forester (Lepidoptera Noctuidae: Alypia octomaculata) and a Mournful Thyris (Lepidoptera Thyrididae: Pseudothyris sepulchralis) – were also nectaring at the ninebark blooms. The Mournful Thyris sat for a number of photos, but every time I clicked the shutter, the Forester bolted. At first I thought the flash was spooking him, but he kept taking off with each shot even after I turned off the flash. I eventually got a single decent shot, but I kind of liked this mistake. The moth was sitting still on the flower when I pushed the shutter, but he flew the instant the flash went off.

Although I rarely photograph anything other than insects, I like this image of a Pileated Woodpecker that flew overhead while I was photographing a dragonfly.
Picture-winged Fly (Diptera Ulididae: Callopistromyia annulipes)
April 29, 2007

On April 17th, I took a photo of the other North American species in this genus (C. strigula). I was pleased to get a few decent shots of this one as it displayed on a tree trunk. This one holds its wings straight up similar to a male peacock.
Falcate Orangetip (Lepidoptera Pieridae: Anthocaris midea)
April 21, 2007

I saw my first Falcate Orangetip of the year on April 16, and after 3 days of chasing them, managed to get a decent shot of a female nectaring at Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica).
Picture-winged Fly (Diptera Ulididae: Callopistromyia strigula)
April 17, 2007

Today I found one of my favorite flies – picture-winged flies perform wing displays holding their wings either to the side or straight up.
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
April 16, 2007

I’m continuing to attract insects with bait spread on trees. Today it attracted two butterfly species: Red Admiral and Goatweed Leafwing (Anaea andria).