Moths, a sometimes spectacular, sometimes anonymous bunch of insects. Compared with butterflies, moths usually seem “hairier,” have feathery antennae, operate by night, and fold/tent their wings over their bodies when at rest.
Tiger moths are unusual among moths because they have on their thorax tymbal organs, which can be used to produce ultrasonic sound (more about that in a sec), and tympanal (hearing) organs (if you’re going to make sound, it’s nice to be able to hear sound). “Ears” are somewhat more common in moths, but some tiger moth caterpillars can hear, too, picking up sound through some of their hairs.
The Green Cloverworm Moth, a.k.a. the Black Snout, is found in waste spots, road edges, grasslands, agricultural areas, and gardens east of the Great Plains. The Common Looper Moth (has a number of things in common with the GCM. It occupies about the same territory as the GCW, occurring as far west as Kansas and Wisconsin. Like the GCM, the CLM produces multiple, fast-growing generations from mid-spring into fall.
Except for the far east and west coasts, Chickweed Geometer are found from the Rio Grande well north into Canada, especially in the eastern half of the U.S. Because their larvae eat the leaves of chickweed (and clover and smartweed and other low plants) and because lawns may be hotbeds of chickweed and clover, Chickweed Geometers are often found in manicured situations, where their presence is welcomed.
Moths in the family Geometridae get their name from the Greek words for “earth” and “measurer. There are a lot of Geometrids – more than 35,000 species worldwide, with 1,400 of those in North America. As a group, they are smallish, nocturnal moths that can tolerate some pretty chilly spring or fall weather. Caterpillars feed on leaves of many woody and non-woody plants, and there are more than a few agricultural and forest pests in the family.
The Carrot Seed Moth, was first noticed in Midwestern North America in 2002. A little more than a decade later, it’s found from North Dakota to Ontario to Pennsylvania and Ohio to Iowa. Crambid caterpillars tend to be borers in roots and stems, and miners in leaves; some bother agricultural crops, and a few are biological controls on problem plants.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtails have two broods/generations each summer here. The first brood, which is airborne in May and June, is small in number, comprised of butterflies who survived the winter and early spring as a pupae in chrysalises.
The two moths that star in this episode are the Grapeleaf Skeletonizer Moth and the Virginia Creeper Clearwing. They are not related to each other (other than their shared Lepidopteranism), but they have a number of things in common.
Harvester Butterflies don’t stray far from the aphids that support their young because the adult feeds, not on flowers – its proboscis is too short to plumb the blossoms—but on the honeydew that collects on surfaces where aphids feed. their caterpillars eat meat, but not just any meat. Harvester caterpillars require wooly aphids, and Wooly Alder Aphids are a common host.
Eight-spotted Forester Moths is a smallish, flashy, day-flying moth that is often mistaken for a butterfly when it’s nectaring on flowers. Their caterpillars graze on leaves of plants in the grape family including wild and domestic grapes, woodbine/Virginia Creeper, peppervine, porcelain berry, and false grape in forest edges and sunny spots, and on vine-covered buildings.