Friday, July 29, 2011

More critters from our woods

One thing that I love about living in the woods is that there are so many cool critters around us all the time. I feel blessed to have such biodiversity right outside my door, and sometimes inside my house! Every year we come across something new that we've never seen before, and that will probably be the case for as long as we live here. In no particular order, here's a smattering of some non-arachnid visitors to our property from the past few months.


Luna moth, Actias luna, from an angle that you may not be used to. Their wings are that striking lime green, but we don't get to see their bodies very often, which are white.


The last few years have been strangely devoid of Lunas around our house, but they have been plentiful this year!


Host plants on our property that their caterpillars would use are hickories and walnuts.


Such intricate antennae, all the better to pick up your pheromones, my pretty...


The Luna is one of the many Saturniid species, and all moths in this family lack mouth parts because they do not feed as adults. They mate, lay eggs, and die. Still boggles my mind.


Another Saturniid moth species, Eastern buckmoth (Hemileuca maia), this time as a caterpillar, which will eat and eat and eat! It was its eating, in fact, that drew me to it. I could hear this caterpillar loudly munching its way through this leaf. They use all kinds of oaks as host plants. Beware of the spines on this cat - they contain a toxin that may cause some unpleasant symptoms (itching, swelling) if handled. I hope to someday encounter its adult form.


One last moth of the Saturniid family, this is an Imperial moth, Eacles imperialis. Host plant species on our property for the Imperial caterpillar include maples, oaks, and sassafras. There is a huge degree of variation in the coloring of this species. I believe this to be a male.


And I think this is the female. I always get excited to see pairs of moth species. It increases the chances that I will see more of them next year!


Lest you think we only have Saturniid moth species on our property, here's one from the Sphinx family. It's a Pandorus sphinx, Eumorpha pandorus. I think I've mentioned this before, but it's worth repeating: Dave is very good about alerting me when he sees a bug/creature/plant/etc. that he thinks will be of interest to me, as was the case here. Thanks, sweetie!


I REALLY dig the coloring and shape of this moth. It had made its way into the garage, and was quite agreeable to being put on a stick to be let outside before we closed up shop for the night.


As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, some of the critters make their way into the house, and this is one of them. Upon checking my Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, I discovered that this is the adult form of some species of antlion. As it was flying around, it looked very much like a damselfly, but the wings at rest are not held in the correct position to be a damsel. Oh, so much to learn!


Last but not least, a complete switch in gears to one of our sweet American toads, Bufo americanus. We have lots of these hopping around our place, and I am always a little disappointed if I happen to go out at night and DON'T see one.

There you have it folks, a glimpse into some of the fauna from our woods!

9 comments:

rebecca said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous photos of the moths - Saturniids and the big sphinx moths are among my favorite creatures, so this post is pure visual candy.

KaHolly said...

Pretty wild and woolly, Heather. I'm loving that Pandorus Sphinx in it's camouflage pajamas!! I subscribe to the 'early to bed, early to rise' philosophy and seldom see moths. What a treat your post was today! ~karen

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I have been having a good time learning about moths this summer at our place up north. I had no idea of their beauty.

Red said...

Super photography. We can't see this with the naked eye. People like you show what beauty is around us. thanks.

John said...

Excellent pictures, especially those of the undersides and antennae of the Lunas. I like that you notice the beauty in the little things which most people ignore.

Jenny Clark said...

Really interesting photos and facts. Thanks Heather!

Adam Tilt said...

Superb post Heather. Some of the those moths are beyong spectacular.

Frank said...

Extraordinary close ups of an array of moths. Super post Heather.

Judy said...

What an interesting post! Those moths are so beautiful! When I was looking at the first photo, I wondered where its head was, but if it doesn't have a mouth, I guess it doesn't need a lot of room for the rest of its head...