Lettered Habrosyne Moth

2014 May 14

Here’s a very pretty moth that came to our porch light on July 4, 2013 (along with a bunch of others that we will be getting to in later posts). It was quite obliging about being photographed, first perching on the front door weatherstripping for a profile view

and then fluttering down to a flat concrete surface for a full dorsal shot.

I was initially fooled by this moth, because I thought that it was either some kind of prominent, or one of the owlets, which are both moth groups with hundreds or even thousands of species. But it isn’t. It is actually one of the “False Owlet” moths, which are more closely related to the Hooktips, and are in a relatively small family of moths with maybe a few dozen species. Specifically, it looks like the Lettered Habrosyne, Habrosyne scripta, also known as “The Scribe”. This is presumably because its wings look like someone has been scribbling on them.

The antennae are thin and threadlike, but I don’t think this tells us anything about the sex – the males of these moths don’t seem to have feathery antennae like a lot of other male moths do.

The larvae eat the leaves of birch trees, and plants in the raspberry[1] family, both of which we have in some quantity in the backyard. So, we are likely to be seeing more of these moths.

[1] No, we didn’t plant the raspberries back there. They are feral plants that are more weedy than a source of fruit. In some places, they make a more-or-less impassable hedge. The fruits are sparse, small, and mostly filled by seeds, so we usually don’t pick very many. It is possible that we could get better fruit by pruning, fertilizing, and generally making the plants feel wanted, although it may well turn out that the best thing to do is to rip them out and plant something more desirable.

One Response
  1. June 24, 2018

    I had my window open last night, here in Northern California, and several moths flew in. Most were the same, big, dark, hairy. I captured them as I could as food for our Savannah Monitor. One I captured in a small baggie caught my eye as it looked like a metal Transformer. Upside down it looked like a scary rabbit, like the creature in the children’s video game Five Nights at Freddy’s. Doing a search on the Internet I saw the photo you posted and I think this is the same moth. It’s still alive and not happy and I can’t photograph it well through the plastic, so I’m waiting for it to shuffle off … and then plan to get a good photograph and feed it to “Sandy” … (I hope this doesn’t offend you) … would you care to see a photograph of it once I get one? No reason, just sharing. And grateful for the ID.

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