Woolly Bear (Family Arctiidae)

Tiger moths are in the Family Arctiidae, a diverse group with worldwide distribution and 250 species in North America. Arctiid moths are unusual in that they have an organ on their thorax that vibrates to produce ultrasonic sound. They “vocalize” to attract mates and to defend against predators. Many of their caterpillars are fuzzy, earning a group name of woolly bears or woolly worms.

Clearwing Moth (Family Sphingidae)

This “Hummingbird Moths” in the genus Hemaris; their genus name may come from the Greek hemara meaning a day in reference to their day-time habits. They are also called Clear-winged Moths, a common name they share with yet another very spiffy but unrelated group of moths. Their range extends from the Pacific Northwest, east and south through most of the U.S. Adults hover in front of the flowers of fields, gardens and edges to sip their nectar.

Milkweed Critters Revisited

This week’s BOTW is another of those retreads from the olden days when BOTW was brand new. If you are a Charter BugFan, you’ll note that exciting new species, pictures and information have been added.

Viceroy Butterfly (Family Nymphalidae)

Viceroy Butterflies are famous for being mimics of Monarch butterflies. Monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed foliage, and that makes them both bitter and toxic. After their first experience with Monarchs, birds generally leave them—and, by association, Viceroys—alone. There are at least two generations of Viceroys per summer; the early broods live out their life cycles in a few months, but the larvae of the final brood of summer will overwinter as tiny caterpillars, wrapped in leaves of one of their food plants; willow is favored, but they’ll also eat poplar, aspen and some apple/plum/cherry leaves.

Buckeye Butterfly (Family Nymphalidae)

Buckeyes belong to a large group of strong fliers whose front legs are noticeably hairy and are reduced in size. Buckeyes are sun-lovers, butterflies of the open fields, where they sip nectar from those confusing fall composites. Males are feisty, chasing other flying objects, both butterfly and non-butterfly alike, out of their territories.

Red Admiral (Family Nymphalidae)

Red Admirals are widely distributed across the U.S. (and temperate regions in Europe, northern Africa and Asia) and occasionally have large population irruptions and wander. Red admiral adults and pupae are found in the south during the winter, and migrating admirals repopulate the north each spring. The males set up territories in clearings and semi-sunny edges in the late afternoon.

Moth Madness

Three moths are featured in this story. The Virginia Ctenucha Moth, Sweetheart Underwing, and the White Underwing.

Giant Silk Moths (Family Saturnidae)

The Cecropia, Promethea, Polyphemus and the Luna are members of the Giant Silk Moth family or Saturnids, and some are giants indeed, measuring in the 4” to 6”. Saturnids are distantly related to the moth that is used in silk production, and some Asian and South American Saturnids are semi-domesticated and the silk spun by their larvae is harvested.

Monarch Butterfly (Family Nymphalidae)

Monarchs, famously, migrate, but they are not the only insect that travels—snout, buckeye, painted lady and red admiral butterflies and a variety of large dragonflies like darners and saddlebags also migrate (watching dragonflies drift down the west shore of Lake Michigan on a soft, fall day can be mind-boggling). But, monarchs are the long-distance champs.

Laurel Moth (Family Sphingidae)

Sphinx moths are also known as hawk moths because they are strong and fast fliers. They sometimes hover over flowers when sipping nectar; many fly in the late afternoon and are mistaken for small hummingbirds, and some night-flowering plants are pollinated by sphinx moths. The hornworms (as in the notorious Tomato hornworm) are Sphinx caterpillars.