Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Haploa sp.
June 17, 2008

I kicked up quite a few moths (and found a few perched on top of leaves, looking very much like a brown area of leaf damage) while walking through prairie plants. An unmarked Haploa flew at my approach when I was 8' to 10' away. I followed it for a while, each time as I got close (but still too far for a good photo), it would fly away – sometimes just a few feet, sometimes up to 30', but the white inch-and-a-half wingspan was easy to follow. After several chases interspersed with breaks to photograph a geometrid moth and a milkweed beetle, I once again failed to sneak up close enough for a frame-filling image of the Haploa despite slowly crawling through the 2' tall vegetation.

Feeling guilty about repeatedly flushing the moth, I decided that I'd make one last approach and then leave it alone. But when I was about 10' from the moth, I noticed a clubtail perched on the plants just about halfway between me and the moth. I immediately decided to abandon my pursuit of the moth in favor of Cobra Clubtail (Gomphus vastus) photos. I snapped one from where I was and then crept closer to the clubtail for better shots.

Now I was only 5' from the moth, its average level of tolerance, but because of its position in the vegetation, it wasn't very visible and I wasn't even looking for it anymore. Suddenly it bolts – at least by its definition of bolting – which is actually a slow flutter. My eyes instinctively leave the clubtail to glance at the moth – just in time to see that I'm not the only one who noticed it. My reflexes aren't quick enough for a photo – all I could do was scream “NO!” inside my head as the clubtail screamed “LUNCH!” and flew to the top of the nearby oak tree.

Later in the day, I found a dead mole alongside the trail and took photos of flies laying eggs on the carcass.

New species for the year:
Painted Lichen Moth
Cobra Clubtail

Van Meter State Park
June 11, 2008

Found a Stilt-legged Fly (Micropezidae) waving its front legs with white tarsi in front of its head in an effort to resemble a wasp. It's thought that looking like a wasp provides some protection against predators.

Blacklighting for Moths at Overton Bottoms, Big Muddy National Wildlife Refuge
June 10, 2008

Highlight of the evening – prize find of the night goes to Jim who found an Eyed Paectes (Paectes oculatix) feeding on the bait we put out.

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