Seasonal Sights and Sounds

Everywhere you look, you see adult insects, young insects, and the kinds of activity that will result in them. Here are some sights from the BugLady’s walks in southeastern Wisconsin.

It’s National Moth Week

It’s National Moth Week! Right now (July 23rd – 31st)! Moths are diverse, successful, showy, drab, cryptic, abundant, huge (a few have wingspreads close to 12”), micro, tasty, toxic objects of our admiration, confusion, superstition, and reverence.

Bugs Without Bios IX

Spring housecleaning—time to tidy up a few more insects whose biographies are short ones.

Azalea Sphinx (Family Sphingidae)

Sphinx moth caterpillars are frequently associated with one, or a small group of host plants, for which they are often named (tobacco and tomato hornworms, big poplar, wild cherry, huckleberry, catalpa sphinx, etc.). Some are pests of agricultural or horticultural plantings, and they may have different names than their adults (when it grows up, a tomato hornworm becomes a Five-lined sphinx).

Headless Moths II – Yellow Necked Datana Moths (Family Notodontidae)

There are 13 species of Datana moths in North America; some are associated with specific host plants like nut trees, sumacs, or azaleas, but the Yellow Necked Datana Moth is more of a generalist feeder. Its menu includes basswood, apple, oak, birch, willow, elm, blueberry, and others.

Headless Moths I – Cattail Borer (Family Noctuidae)

Cattail Borer Moths are a half-dozen or so species in the genus Bellura in eastern North America, a continuum of very closely-related, yet distinct, species that differ little in appearance or genetically.
Their semi-aquatic larvae feed on/in leaves and stems of emergent aquatic plants like cattails, arrowhead, pickerelweed, water hyacinth, bur reeds, water lilies, and even skunk cabbage.

Mini-Moths Without Bios I

Mini-moths a diverse bunch. Many of them are diurnal (though several of today’s moths appeared under the BugLady’s front porch light), and the larvae of many species specialize in a single or a limited number of host plant species (the group includes some plant and fiber pests). In this episode, the Orange-Headed Monopis, Speckled Xylesthia, Bidens Borer Moth, Goldenrod Gall Moth, Cream-Edged/Cream Bordered Dichomeris, and the Four-O-Clock Moth are featured.

Lappet Moth (Family Lasiocampidae)

Lappet Moth caterpillars are generalist feeders, found on members of the willow/poplar, rose, ash, oak, birch, and buckthorn families. Their Tent caterpillar kin can be destructive on a variety of hardwoods, but there are no red flags about Lappet Moth caterpillars from any of the Extension, forestry or exterminator sites.

Woolly Bears (Family Erebidae)

The Woolly Bear du jour is the ultra-familiar rust-and-black-banded caterpillar of the Isabella Tiger Moth (Pyrrharctia isabella). The caterpillar has its own names—the generic Woolly Bear, the Black-ended Bear, and the Banded Woolly Bear.

Prominent Caterpillars (Family Notodontidae)

The Prominents are a bunch of long-winged, hairy, often-drab, mostly-tropical moths. Of the 3,800 species in the family, 138 are found in North America (half of them in Eastern forests). Prominents generally lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves, where the larvae may initially feed gregariously. Caterpillar menus are generally limited to one or just a few host plants per species.