You may be forgiven for thinking that South Walsingham is my second home! Well, it has certainly felt that way this spring with my forth visit of the moth season a couple of days ago. This time I travelled with my friend Mike, a veteran of many such rapid assessment moth trips! The weather looked promising so spirits were high as we motored south into the steamy depths of southern Ontario.
And so it turned out to be. It felt slightly chilly and the moths were slow to arrive at the lights at first. But as the night warmed up so did the moths and we ended up with 130-140 species, very respectable for late May. There were no fantastic highlights, and the hoped-for Luna Moth failed to put in an appearance, but the species list was varied and colorful.
One of the tastiest moths of the night was the above Argyrostrotis anilis, the Short-lined Chocolate. I'd only seen it a couple of times before and this one was crispy fresh for the camera. It's a lovely shade of medium dark chocolate with the finely applied white icing! Sometimes this species can be seen in the daytime, but I've never had any luck with it this way. It is obviously fairly local and thinly spread in the province. The larvae feed on Sabatia species.
A major highlight for me was the capture of the moth above, Zale unilineata, the One-lined Zale. It had been years since I'd seen one and I only had some rather poor slides of one perched atop a rather boring lump of wood! Nice to get another chance to obtain some decent photos. Considering how much mothing I do it seems clear to me that this Zale must be pretty local and uncommon. The larvae feed on black locust. I particularly like the way the yellowish pm line on the forewing clashes with the black st line on the hindwing...
A moth I always thought I must surely be overlooking is this one, Marathyssa basalis, the Light Marathyssa. It has a similar looking cousin called, yes, you've guessed it, the Dark Marathyssa! They are both the same crazy shape when at rest but when I saw this one I knew it was different. I catch lots of Dark Marathyssa and it is nowhere near as striking as this strange beauty. This species has lots of fine white lines on the forewing and abdomen that the other species lacks. Also, and you never read about this in the books, it has these distinct flanges on either side of the abdomen, was one of the first things I noticed. The larvae of this species feed on poison ivy - well, something has to! The other feeds on staghorn sumac. BTW - you would never be able to identify either Marathyssa by looking at photos of spread specimens in books because they bear absolutely no resemblance to the illustrations when at rest in life. They roll their wings up and curl their abdomens up to the sky you see. It almost makes one think that a photo guide is in order... And no, I hadn't overlooked this species at all, I just hadn't seen it, until now.
I've always loved this moth! I mean there is just so much going on it almost makes one dizzy. Well, okay, slightly OTT but you get the idea. The hindwing, which you cannot see when the moth is at rest, is just as startling in black-and-white. Is Synedoida grandirena, the Figure-seven Moth. I've only ever caught it here. The larvae feed on witch-hazel.
This is the rather flashy noctuid Lacanobia subjuncta, the Speckled Cutworm Moth. It is pretty common and widespread but since this individual was in superbly mint condition I thought it would look nice here. Is fantastically complex-looking. The larvae feed on a wide variety of plants and can be a pest.
Some moths just look classy. This smooth devil is Cucullia florea. In UK moths in the genus Cucullia are called Sharks, a great name for these horned, long-winged creatures. There are half a dozen or so members of this genus in Ontario, they are all rather similar to one-another. This species is pretty local and I've only seen it here.
This is a wainscot - and all wainscots look pretty much the same. Well, that's not strictly true, but to the untrained eye there is not much going on in order to differentiate between them. This one is called Leucania linita, and I'm not sure what the common name is, or if it even has one - some moths don't you see, especially micros. This one can be identified by the pattern of the dusky line through the middle of the forewing being interrupted by that little white spot. It also has rather squared-off wings, but that's hard to tell without experience of the genus. There are several members of this rather homogenous genus in the province but many are local and uncommon. The larvae mostly feed on various grasses.
I was well pleased with is small noctuid, mostly because it fell into that category of moths that I hadn't seen for years and didn't have decent photos of. This is mostly because I would normally be birding at this time and miss many species that are on the wing in late May and early June. It is Ulolonche modesta, a small quaker. It is unusual in that it is mostly ashy-gray with nice sharp blackish lines and shading and that nice broken-edged reniform spot. Pretty distinctive really. It is pretty local, but is probably overlooked due to the timing of its flight period. The larval food plants are unknown.
Finally, the very orange Pyrrhia umbra, the Bordered Sallow. I've seen this lovely moth many times but this was the best and freshest individual I'd ever seen - it just glowed in the manner of a spring male Blackburnian Warbler! It is pretty widespread but always in low density. The larvae feed on a wide variety of trees, shrubs and plants.
So, another successful venture. I'll post a few more highlights next time. In the meantime I have been catching a few moths in my backyard - but mostly microdust it has to be said...