Thursday, August 9, 2012

Confessions of a moth addict: Underwings

Catocala briseis Edwards, 1864 Ribbed Underwing
I participated in International Moth Week mostly out of a sense of duty. Moths are grand, but they play second fiddle to butterflies for no good reason other than we are denizens of the day like the flutterbys and tend to be easily distracted by bright colours. And, as my friend Felix likes to say, phylogenetically butterflies are moths, so why not enjoy them all. So in the interests of justice to moths, I tried a few. Well, now I'm hooked and to celebrate my addiction here's a moth that looks a bit like a hybrid between drab mothdom and fluttery butterflydom: the Ribbed Underwing.
Monomaniacal eye-glow under the blacklight
Underwings used to be in the family Noctuidae, but now seem to reside in the Erebidae in the phylogenetically recalibrated Noctuoidea. More than a hundred species are known in North America and even the ones that aren't startlingly brilliant underwing are elegant and interesting. The caterpillars of this species feed on poplars and willows, and there is easily enough of them to go around at the moment. This was the largest moth that came to last weekend's blacklight, but nothing like a Polyphemus or a Luna Moth in size. Still, it was a bit of a thrill and now that I haven't seen one for a week, I'm starting to feel withdrawal symptoms.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe we should put up a blacklight at Homebuggarden tonight to satisfy your new addiction.