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!