Gray Moth With Six Black Marks

2016 March 16

This moth that came to the porch light on June 26, 2015 just has that general build and coloration that says to me, “Hi, I’m the adult form of some kind of cutworm!” Ah, but which one? That’s the question.

So, I ended up searching through all the Noctuinae (the cutworm and dart moths) specifically looking for something with particular distinctive features; three specific marks on each wing (an elongated “dagger” mark, a triangle, and a trapezoid[1]), and a dark strip across the top of the shoulders.

And, what I found was this: the “Two Spot Dart Moth”, Eueretagrotis perattentus. I don’t really see why it would be called “two spotted”, since this one at least looks like it has six spots, but sometimes there’s no accounting for what people name things. According to the BugGuide range maps, it looks like there is a western population up around British Columbia, and an eastern population mostly along the St. Lawrence River and around the Great Lakes. And, BugGuide’s only specimen from Michigan was also found in June, just like mine.

The caterpillars are reported to eat the leaves from blueberries and fire cherries, which (to the surprise of approximately no one) both look to have pretty much the same native range as these moths.

[1] Regarding trapezoids: Many years ago (maybe 1992?), just before the opening ceremonies for one of the Minicon SF conventions, there was a “live radio show” that included a Dudley Do-Right versus Snidely Whiplash piece, where Dudley had become convinced that he was a vampire. But, when Snidely tried to drive him off with a cross, he found that Dudley (being Dudley) had gotten confused about his geometric figures, and thought that what vampires were scared of was trapezoids. So then, a bit later, Snidely shows up with a paper trapezoid cutout on a stick:

Dudley (puzzled): What’s that?

Snidely: It’s a trapezoid, you fool!


(Well, it was funny at the time. Maybe you had to be there).

So, anyway, now whenever I see a trapezoid, I think about a vampiric Dudley Do-Right recoiling in horror. The human mind is a peculiar place.

Comments are closed.