Miscellaneous Micromoth One-Shots – Early Summer 2014

2015 February 25

For every larger moth drawn to our porch light, there are generally close to a dozen little “micromoths” scattered about. A lot of these only give me one shot at a photo, as they fly off as soon as the camera flash goes off. So here are four species that were at the porch light on June 28, 2014. It is probably a safe bet that these same species would have been found a few days later in July, as well. This first one is attractive in a quiet way, with a silvery sheen and yellow trim at the wing edges. Comparing it with the ripples in our house siding, it is around 1 cm long (a bit under half an inch). A. Hendrickson on BugGuide suggested that it is the Cranberry Girdler, Chrysoteuchia topiarius, one of the Crambine Snout Moths.

The caterpillars eat a lot of plants, and when young they eat the soft parts of grasses and can be sod pests. When they get older, they are particularly known for chewing off the bark around stems of woody plants, “girdling” them (which kills the stem beyond the spot where it was girdled). They are particular pests of cranberries, and will also attack conifer seedlings and blueberries.

Our second specimen is one of the many moths that mimic bird droppings, and even though a lot of them aren’t related to each other and just independently hit on excrement mimicry, they are often collectively referred to as “bird-dropping moths”. Again, A. Hendrickson pointed me towards a good candidate ID: Gypsonoma fasciolana. These are Tortricids, a large family of small moths, many of which infest various crops as leaf-rollers, fruit borers, and the like. The caterpillar of this particular species is evidently a leaf-roller that feeds on willow and poplar leaves.

And this last picture is a twofer: a plume moth (subfamily Pterophorinae, and likely a relative of the Artichoke Plume Moth, Platyptilia carduidactylus, although my specimen is missing the dark blotches on the leading edge of the wings), along with most of what I think might be a Vagabond Crambus with less bushy mouthparts than we’ve seen previously:

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