Saturday, July 25, 2015

NMW 2015: Halysidota harrisii

Halysidota harrisii 05-29-15 1st of the season

Happy National Moth Week!! ɛïɜ

Long long time no see I know. I have been without internet access for a few annoying months so I couldn't really do much as far as blogging but I finally got it back a few days ago and have been pondering on what to write........

So I decided to start with one of my favorites. Halysidota harrisii, which I've been trying to keep track of ever since they started declining a few years back and have thankfully started returning within the past few years. This season I have so far seen 4......2 adults and 2 larvae.

I do hope to see more. I think I have their life cycle figured out though. I think.......The adults I've seen emerge in Spring (earliest yet was May 29th) to mate and lay eggs etc. (on Platanus x acerfolia here and P. occidentalis elsewhere though I haven't observed this anywhere for occidentalis).

The eggs hatch and the larvae go through their metamorphosis overwintering as pupae and the adults emerging the following Spring to repeat the blessed process all over again. What I'm still not clear on is the details of their life cycle.

1. How many instars do they have? (I presume 5 but for all I know there could be 6)
2. Defenses? (Adults & larvae are brightly colored so I'm sure they're protected somehow. Although Platanus x. acerfolia and P. occidentalis afaik don't have any toxic chemicals for the larvae to sequester.)
3. Hybrids? Do harrisii and tesselaris hybridize?
4. Where do they pupate? (*Note to self: Check remaining Sycamore leaves early/mid fall for possible cocoons)

And I also did a JLR (Journal of Lepidopteran Research) crawl and nothing........nothing extensive written on them. H. harrisii is briefly mentioned if I can call it brief. H. tesselaris is mentioned quite a few times but nothing to note on the life history or biology or anything on either of these two species.

I'm specifically interested in harrisii since these actually occur here (apparently adults of harrisii and tesselaris are impossible to distinguish from each other without genital dissection. Had NMW BAMONA submission rejected cause of this) and the only way I know this is from the larvae. I have not seen tesselaris larvae here. Only harrisii. H. tesselaris I've only seen once upstate. Caterpillar was crawling across a picnic bench. I was about 6....♥

Any way........I've ranted enough. Pic spam!!

Spotted on my terrace at 7:40ish in the morning. Aaaah perfection!!

Was mostly very tame and didn't mind being handled. Which makes me wonder about them having chemical defenses as both adults and larvae. The adults can always sequester from PA harboring plants but the larvae whose host I haven't heard of containing any sort of toxic chemicals.......??? *Stumped*

Hoping someday these questions can be answered.......


Pics are of all the same individual.


And some videos!!

And the adult in the pics:

If any of these come up choppy.....I blame youtube. Taken with my phone and they come up fine there. Anyway enjoy nonetheless.

Happy National Moth Week!


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Moth List 2014

Catocala palaeogamma 08-08-14

So this year Entomologically (and personally) has been amazing and there have been so so many lovelies this year and their diversity has astounded and amazed me to no end. I'm currently at the library blogging this so I'm pressed for time so I can't ramble. *^^* On with the photos and lists:

In no particular order:

Heliothis phloxiphaga
Morrisonia confusa (2)
Paectes sp.
Mythimna unipuncta
*Halysidota harrisii (6 1 adult 5 larvae)
Microcrambus elegans
Immyrla nigrovitella
Hofmannophila pseudospretella
Acleris semipurpurana
Choristoneura rosaceana
Clepsis peritana

Halysidota harrisii 06-15-14

Evergestis pallidata
Pleuroprucha insulsaria (TONS of these this year)
Pyralis farinalis
Chalcoela iphitalis
Catocala palaeogamma (6-7)
Catocala innubens f. scintillans
Catocala micronympha
Promolactis suzukiella
Autographa gamma/precationis
Sciota uvinella
Eupithecia miserulata

Heliothis phloxiphaga 05-08-14

Cenopsis pettitana
Idia americalis
Nematocera resistaria 
Dichomeris ligulella
Atteva aurea
Numerous unidentified micros.......>__<
*ANTHERAEA POLYPHEMUS!! (Breading attempts from Pennsylvania)

Pieris rapae chrysalis!!

Had to add this as it's the first one that I found.....♥ Along with one other unidentified moth pupa rolled up in a leaf (Tortricidae? Pyraloidea?)

I wound up with 8 of these babies. 5 males 3 females. Sadly none of them mated. Will hopefully try again next year. Have to wrap up now. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year and stay safe!! Will post more photos later.



Saturday, July 26, 2014

NMW: Halysidota harrisii (Observations, Frustrations, Ponderings & Pic Spam)

Halysidota harrisii (Adult: Female I think) 06-15-14

Finally........I get to properly write about these. I say finally because they've been in some weird decline in the past few years here and I do not know why. They used to be almost as common as Pieris rapae here with the larvae in all stages and color variants (white~gray~yellow~yellow brown) adorning the fences outside my house & beyond. They were an integral part of my childhood and I have very fond memories of the caterpillars (my mother running screaming down the walkway when one almost got on her had I not warned her. XD Taking them to school etc) and the adults perched on the buildings and underneath awnings. Finding them flitting through the air ethereal and fairy like with their yellow-ish almost white transparency.and chasing after them reveling in their beauty as they walked around on my hand before flying off again.

Until they all but disappeared.

And I don't know why. From 2007 onward I literally watched as their numbers dropped drastically for reasons unknown, until I literally didn't see even one (2012?) and eventually they started trickling back in. But I still don't see them as often as I'd like but at least it seems they're trying to make a comeback. I'm rooting for them. Observations this year as follows:

06-15-14 1 Adult
06-27-14 1 larva (2nd~3rd instar?) White
07-20-14 1 larva (3rd~4th instar?) White/Off white/gray
07-26-14 1 larva (5th~6th instar?)  Golden Yellow

So far that makes 4 after today. And I have questions.

1. Exactly how many instars does this species have?
2. Is there anything on their biology/life histories?

The second one is bugging me. I went searching to see if I could find anything and the most I could find is a detailed report on a 40 something year old guy who had an allergic reaction (see here) after handling one. I never had any problems with them. While continuing my search for info I decided to read Wikipedia's entry on them and it pissed me off........badly.

First off they basically fail to mention that the supposed irritant properties of the setae (hairs) of the caterpillars induce reactions only in certain people. What they're basically telling you is not to handle them at all and they don't bother to back their supposed info either. No references links as to what the article is based on.

I will repeat myself. I have handled probably hundreds of them and I never had a problem with them.


From today 07-26-14

As I said before I found this lovely angel in my lobby on the floor and proceeded to "rescue" it, take it upstairs and get pics & release it. I was tempted to keep it to see if it would spin a cocoon but decided to release it in the end simply due to the fact that there's practically nothing on them so I wouldn't know how to properly rear them to adulthood. I did try last year but sadly wasn't successful.

I want to wait till I have more information. Like aside from host (Sycamores Platanus spp. Wiki mentions them feeding on Platanus occidentalis we have Platanus x acerfolia here only which they obviously have no problems with) where do they pupate? Do they spin cocoons? If they do where do they spin them? Between leaves? On twigs or sides of trees/buildings/other flat surfaces? Do they burrow underground to pupate?

I don't know this so I obviously decided to wait & obtain more info. Problem is there isn't any!! I haven't been able to find anything on their life cycles or biology and it's frustrating. I did however observe a possible defensive behavior in this individual. When startled it would "flinch", retract it's head & clamp down on whatever surface it was on (in this case a paper towel):

Which prompts even more questions:

1. What are their defences (besides this apparently) against predators?
2. They're brightly colored surely aside from a mouth full of apparently irritant setae they're distasteful??

Dear Lord someone needs to research these already!!

From the release

And because I simply can't help myself, some videos too:

Enjoy!! I've spammed you enough. I hope though that I can properly find out about these. Surely there has to be more info somewhere.

Until next time! Happy National Moth Week!!


Friday, February 07, 2014

NHM Butterfly Exhibit Visit #11

Actias luna...........♥ Last photo of the day since cam battery had completely died right after taking this shot of this magnificent angel. 

11th visit after not being able to visit for 4 months because life was crazy. XD I dare say this one was worth the wait. So many lovelies I haven't had the pleasure of seeing before and so many I haven't seen enough of (*cough* Actias luna *cough*). I do however have a bone to pick with them........maybe not them but the Department of Agriculture definitely.

See as I walked in I looked around for the Saturniids as I always do and since I didn't obviously spot any right away I asked the staff if they had any moths to which the guy I asked pointed me over to this lovely angel:

Seeing this prompted me to do 2 things:

1. Take shit loads of photos
2. Ask why in the world is she (it's a female) in a whatchamacallit (I have no idea what you call these "containers" other then I have a few and plan to get more and they can be used for butterflies/moths and laundry :P)?

So when I asked why she was in this cage I was told because they aren't allowed to breed the moths and it's also due to worries/concerns of "cross contamination with foreign species". This is what the Department of Agriculture (DoA for short from here on out) is worried about. Also apparently due to last years Saturniid orgy fest (they had a bunch of Attacus atlas and Rothschildia lebeau mating & laying eggs all over the place) they implemented this ridiculous rule.

They're also doing it down in Florida too from what I was told. All female moths have to be "quarantined" so they don't lay eggs everywhere and risk "contaminating species". And parasites (which I would think the farms these come from would check for so that's BS). The entire thing is BS due to the fact:

1. The moths aren't allowed to mate but the butterflies are. (Observed P. memnon and Heliconius mating/courting)

1a. When I pointed out the P. memon mating the staff said "Oh yeah they've been going at it for hours" XD -_-

2. The DoA has nothing to worry about because any (tropical) moths wouldn't survive the winters here (except A. luna H. cecropia C. promethea & A. polyphemus to name a few because they're native here and they overwinter as cocoons).

2a. Any parasites of tropical Saturniids would not survive our winters they would freeze to death point blank.

*Sigh* it's ridiculous. Also may I point out that the luna in the first photo is a female and it's out in the open. Egads! *sarcasm*  Anyway enjoy the pics:

She had laid eggs in the corner. Incredible tiny things they were. 

Ascia monuste threesome?!!

Papilio nireus!! First time seeing one.......♥

New Additions: 

1. Papilio nireus
2. Pachliopta aristolochiae
3. Papilio polytes f. romulus (males) *previous visit had females
4. Unidentified Charaxes sp.?
5. Heliconius hybrids
6. Unidentified yellow Pierid (Eurema nicippe??)

Heliconius pachinus I LOVE how this came out. ♥

Ornithoptera priamus euphorion (?) This was an honor to hold.

Ok I'll spam you more later. :P Until next time......♥


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Out With a Bang

Vespula maculifrons Queen which may or may not have been still kicking 12-28-13

They were amazing.......last and latest bug hunt of the year. The latest they were out was in November 2011......felt like Spring that day. Today it felt like Spring yet again and I was greatly awarded with all sorts of birds and assorted creepy crawlies.......and a surprise from my lepidopteran friends.

I had originally gone to the park to look for cocoons of various moths.....and maybe butterfly chrysalids or overwintering Polygonia spp. or Nymphalis antiopa and while I didn't find any of those.........I DID find something of a mystery lodged in one of the normally bug infested logs.

Mystery moth pupae 12-28-13

I wonder what exactly made many many possibilities.

It was discussed via facebook & twitter and the possibilities are endless.....

Woodboring Erebidae
Notodontidae (Cerura and Furcula spp. specifically)
Cossidae (Prionoxystus robiniae)

To name a few of what it could be........Notodontids of the genera Cerura & Furcula I haven't seen here in any shape or form nor have I seen Prionoxystus robiniae or any of the other 3 Eastern N. American Cossidae. The pupa wasn't "large" by any means......but it wasn't "small" either. Medium? And skinny....but not too skinny.

Providing the weather is nice again after the snow we're supposed to get in a few days. I'll go back and see if it's still there and try and get better pics and maybe try and get it out. I tried but it seemed like it was stuck in there pretty tightly.

Silken pads most likely......and the added protection of a deep enough notch in a log. ^^* Another question though is when did it emerge? Last time I was there (Oct 15th) I didn't see it there but then again I wasn't looking for cocoons or pupae/chrysalids then since the adults of various lepidopterans were out pollinating the last of the flowers.

My only guess it that it was over looked. It wouldn't make sense for it to have crawled in there say late/early October pupated and then emerged on an abnormally warm Autumn/winter day only to eventually freeze to death. Don't have the climate for them to do that "successfully".

But I wouldn't rule anything out at this point. But the possibility of it being overlooked is more likely. Hope to find more this year......♥

Some kind of ground beetle?

No clue!! Was a shock to find this and many others zipping about. Midges/craneflies (these were in some sort of swarm) another beetle in flight, slugs, milipedes, centipedes.......woodlice. Oh it was wonderful not to mention the birds.

Juncos!! Some friends had confirmed these are juncos and I had also learned that there might be a junco species complex (Idk if that would be the right term here but Idk that much about birds to begin with) since the "experts had lumped them all together" so to speak according to said friends.

Aren't they just darling little things? Here's another:

I have many more but I'll post those in another post as once again I've probably ranted enough about my precious lovely little friends.....but I can't help it. *^^*

Until next time.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Moth Count 2013

Helicoverpa zea 09-17-13 ~ 09-18-13

So I've decided to document all the moths I've seen this year that I've ID'd and more or less ID'd. I had already more or less done this in a journal of sorts (along with every other insect/spider) I've seen earlier in the season due to the lack of a camera.

I continued after purchasing another camera out of habit and utter enjoyment I got from doing so. Also since I wasn't able to participate in National Moth Week (due to lack of camera and the weather being entirely inappropriate for moth hunting the entire week) this I think more then makes up for it I think. I'm wondering if I could submit these least the ones I was able to photograph??

*Note these aren't in order......exactly......just listing for convenience and enjoyment. Dates added when possible.


Campaea perlata 06-05-13 (Flat Rock Nature Reserve NJ)*
1 Unidentified "Zebra patterned" moth 06-05-13 (Flat Rock Nature Reserve)**
Dichomeris picrocarpa 06-05-13 (Tenafly (sp?) NJ)
Eido trimaculata 06-05-13 (Tenafly NJ) 
Hypena sp. 06-21-13


Costaconvexa centrostrigaria (2) 08-15-13
Hyphantria cunea 08-15-13
Pleuroprucha insulsaria 09-15-13
Autographa precationis 09-20-13
Elasmopalpus lignosellus 08-24-13
Mythimna unipuncta 08-27-13
Eupithecia miserualata 09-19-13
Dolichomia sp. Dolichomia olinalis? 08-24-13
Unidentified micro moth 08-27-13


Autographa precationis 09-06-13***
Orthonama obstipata 09-07-13
Unidentified Moth 09-12-13 Speculations of what it could've been:

Spiramater lutra
Mamestra aurialis
Apamea dubitans
Condica vecors
Acronicta afflicta

*Note: All the moths listed above have similar wing colors & patterns to the one on my terrace that night. I was unfortunately unable to capture it to confirm it's identity. This pisses me off greatly......sneaky little buggers. :P

Spoladea recurvalis 10-01-13 Saw about 5-6 of these throughout the season. First sighting was on 09-17-13. Was an utter bitch to ID but soooo much fun. *^^*

Caradrina montana 09-14-13 ~ 09-15-13 (1 for each night!)
Noctua pronuba 09-15-13 *Female looked gravid
Helicoverpa zea 09-17-13 ~ 09-18-13
Emmelina monodactyla 09-29-13
Canarsia ulmiarrosorella 09-29-13
Coleophora pruniella (Possibly.......guessing here...seen only briefly before it took off) 09-29-13

Atteva aurea 10-02-13 Hadn't seen these in a looooooong time. 


Spoladea recurvalis 10-01-13 ~10-10-13
Hypena scabra (?) 10-10-13

Halysidota harrisii caterpillar *Date unknown atm
Pyralis farinalis *Dates unknown atm
Spodoptera ornithogalli *Date unknown

A VERY cold Hypena scabra (Date unknown) It's very much alive. Not to worry. *^^*


*Campaea perlata was found on the most EPIC bug hunt of the year. My friend had taken me up to New Jersey to see the cicadas and other assorted angels. Pics another entry. I think I've spammed you all enough. :P

** Unidentified "Zebra moth" was small.......not as small as some other moths I've seen
*** Autographa precationis was quite plentiful this year. Seen on numerous occasions throughout the season. A few of them might also have been Spodoptera's surprising how much they can look alike from a distance. XD

Additional Notes:

*Dichomerus picrocarpa & Eido trimaculata were both seen up at my friends house after the cicada fest. Skippers and Tiger Swallowtails joined in along with NUMEROUS other creepy crawly LOVELY angels of all sorts.

Oki doki that just about wraps this up for now.......will be edited as needed of course. Many firsts for me this season (and there's more to tell!!). Deliriously happy about all that's occurred bug wise. I only hope it gets even better with coming new year.

Speaking of which I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Bug infested 2014.

God bless!


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Monarchs 2013

Danaus plexippus (Male) 10-15-13 3rd and last monarch of the season at the park by my house

As you know monarchs are declining year after year. This year I've only seen 3 and the year before I saw about maybe 20 give or take throughout the entire season (I wasn't able to get photos because these were almost always in flight like they were on a mission)!! This year I'm proud to say I've gotten pictures & videos of the blessed angels on 2 occasions.

The one pictured above was an absolute pleasure and honor to observe. I made a point of pointing it out to anyone who passed by while I was taking pictures (this is the best one out of maybe 10 attempts) of it feeding on the buddleia. It was a male. I hope it made it to Mexico okay.

Danaus plexippus (Female) 10-12-13 Bronx Zoo outside the restrooms

This one I had spotted in the treetops during my trip to the Bronx Zoo. What a pleasant surprise. I'm also happy to report that they FINALLY planted a nice patch of milkweed in the park by my house. Orange Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa?) I hope it helps the monarchs that fly through here immensely.

The first one I had spotted I wasn't able to to get pictures of due to the lack of a camera (I had unfortunately lost my old one) and the fact that it flew by me so quickly it would've been impossible to do so any way. XD It came out of nowhere just as I was pondering whether or not I'd see any this year........coincidence? I don't think so.

That wouldn't be the first time butterflies (in general) popped up in ways that make me wonder........especially this year. Any way, as for the monarchs I'll do everything I can to support them and spread the awareness that they need our help badly. Including keeping track of them and seeing if I can get some milkweed for my own purposes.....we'll see.

Here's a video of the first one: Click!! (Facebook doesn't allow you embed videos anymore bummer)

Until next time!!