Gray Half-Spot

2013 March 6

Our next moth from May 26, 2012 is this gray specimen with brown streaks and a half-moon spot in the middle of its wings.

Trying to sort out what it was, I was deceived by two things:
(1) I was looking for a moth with that same pose, with the wings tented over its back, and
(2) I was expecting something with a “feathered” wing trailing edge, like this:

I didn’t find the ID for it myself, but on BugGuide Maury Heiman quickly identified it as a Gray Half-Spot (Nedra ramosula) with somewhat worn wings that lead to the feathery apearance. And while BugGuide does have some pictures from the side in the “tented” pose, the Peterson Guide to Moths only showed a full-dorsal shot, and so I missed it.

Now that it is pointed out to me, though, it is clearly the same moth, right down to the half-moon spot. And some of the specimens on BugGuide even show the same pattern of wing-wear to make the feathered edge.

And after Maury identified it for me, I said to myself, “Hey, Nedra sounds familiar. Didn’t I post a caterpillar from this genus a while back?” So I checked, and Lo! Here it is! And it’s not just the same genus, but probably the same species!

An interesting point is that we found those nearly-mature caterpillars in early June, and the moth was caught in late May. There is not nearly enough time for a May-flying moth to lay eggs that mature to a large June-pupating caterpillar. This suggests to me that, since the caterpillars dig underground and presumably pupate in soil, they can overwinter as pretty much any stage from caterpillar through pupa. Particularly here, where our snow cover is so deep that the ground doesn’t freeze, even when the air temperature is subzero.

3 Responses
  1. March 6, 2013

    What a stylish moth! With that fauxhawk on its head, it kind of looks like Cheik Tiote. I doubt it pulls as many yellow cards, though.

  2. Merle permalink
    March 12, 2013

    What a beautiful specimen! It’s nice to see these up close when normally they’re just white fluttery blurs.

  3. March 12, 2013

    Thanks, guys! Moths in general look a lot more interesting when magnified, than when they are just something fluttering around the porch light.

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