Pandorus Sphinx (Family Sphingidae)

Pandorus Sphinxs occupy North America from south Texas to Wisconsin to Nova Scotia to south Florida. They are found at dawn and dusk along forest and river edges and vineyards where their caterpillars’ food plants grow. Adults nectar on and pollinate bouncing bet, white campion and petunias.

Edwards’ Hairstreak (Family Lycaenidae)

Edwards’ hairstreaks live in savannahs, sand barrens, limy ridges, and the edges and openings of oak thickets. There, the adults nectar on flowers of a variety of legumes, dogbane, sumac, milkweeds (there’s a reason they call it Butterfly weed) and other summer flowers. EH caterpillars are oak-eaters, browsing first on the buds and later on the tender leaves. Young caterpillars eat during the day and apparently stay in the trees, but older caterpillars spend the day on the ground and feed in the trees at night.

Hackberry Emperor (Family Nymphalidae)

Hackberry butterflies are found over about two-thirds of the U.S. In Wisconsin, you’re most likely to see a Hackberry Emperor (HbE) in the southwestern third of the state and along the Mississippi River, but there are records elsewhere. The HbE is considered a fairly common butterfly in its range, but it is often overlooked because it’s flying around the tops of the trees. Its caterpillars feed on the several species of hackberry trees/shrubs. Period. As hackberry trees grow, so grow hackberry emperors.

White-Marked Tussock Moth (Family Lymantriidae)

White-Marked Tussock Moth are in the tussock moth family Lymantriidae, a cold-tolerant lot populated by a number of black sheep including the gypsy moth. You can find them from the Great Plains to the Atlantic Ocean, including southern Canada, in mixed forests or in the shrubby edges where woods meet fields. Because of their catholic appetites, WmTM caterpillars have occasional local population booms and defoliate trees, and Christmas tree growers in the northeastern part of their range are sometimes plagued by them.

Fall Webworms (Family Arctiidae)

Fall Webworms are found in North America from coast to coast and border to border. They are native sons and daughters that have, since WWII, spread through Europe and Asia. Look for them in parks, forest edges, and roadsides. Cherry leaves are a favorite caterpillar food, but they will dine happily at quite a variety of trees including ash, willow, poplar, hickory, American elm, walnut, some maples, and a few fruit trees. A colony of caterpillars can eat lots of leaves, and they may defoliate part or all of a tree.

Wood Nymphs – Part 2 (Family Nymphalidae)

The Common Wood Nymphs have a “bouncy” flight. The adults generally feed on non-flower matter like rotting fruit, tree sap, dung and carrion, and the larval food plants are grasses and sedges.

Gypsy Moth (Family Erebidae)

We all know the Gypsy Moth story; it’s the poster child of Invasive Species. Gypsy moths (Lymantria dispar) were imported from Europe to the Boston area in 1868 by French scientist Leopold Trouvelot. M. Trouvelot planned to do a little genetic tinkering to develop a hybrid caterpillar that was hardier than the native silkworms. Some of his breeding stock (inevitably) escaped.

Wood Nymphs – Part 1 ( Family Nymphalidae)

The Browns/Satyrs/Wood Nymphs (BSWNs) are a group of butterflies that can be a bit troublesome to identify in the field. As the name implies, they tend to be gray-to-brown, and the eyespots on their wings are their main markings. Adult Browns don’t stray far from the habitats that support their caterpillars.

Small Blue Butterflies – Azures and Tailed Blue (Family Lycaenidae)

Today’s episode considers three small, blue “look-alike” butterflies—the Spring Azure and the Summer Azure, often referred to as the Spring Spring Azure and the Summer Spring Azure, and the Eastern Tailed Blue. The Spring Azures have long been considered to be one large and gloriously diverse species made up of several sub-species. Now they’re thought by many to be a number of full species.

Plume Moth (Family Pterophoridae)

The Plume Moth is a smallish moth (½” to 1 ½” wingspread) that is pretty easy to walk past, since it’s disguised as a piece of dried vegetation. All are known for their slim bizarre wings, which are deeply divided into fringed lobes. The hind wings generally have three lobes, and the forewings two, but when they are at rest, they roll the lobes of each wing together until they resemble twigs. Plume moths are found all over the world, and their flight periods include most of the warm months. The adults are often found on flowers, feeding on nectar and pollen, right out in the open.