Moths, Maybe

by Carl Strang

The Indiana bioblitzes always seem to take place so early in the season that there is little singing insect action for me to document. I always learn something, but I feel that I want to make a larger contribution. I photographed some moths drawn to the Purdue team’s lights at Eagle Marsh, and I was reminded of my 1980’s investigation of forest moths in DuPage County, for instance the component community centering on enchanter’s nightshade. Perhaps I need to expand a bit, and make a more concerted effort with moths at future bioblitzes.

Here is what the woolly bear caterpillar becomes: an Isabella tiger moth. At least two of these were drawn to the lights at Eagle Marsh.

Here is what the woolly bear caterpillar becomes: an Isabella tiger moth. At least two of these were drawn to the lights at Eagle Marsh.

We got a glimpse of a yellow-collared scape moth during the day, and that night one came to us.

We got a glimpse of a yellow-collared scape moth during the day, and that night one came to us.

A third example, a bristly cutworm moth. Check out the beautiful green areas in the wings.

A third example, a bristly cutworm moth. Check out the beautiful green areas in the wings.

There have been butterfly teams, but so far no one has specialized on moths. They are a diverse, beautiful and ecologically significant group, deserving of attention in the bioblitzes. It will mean collecting, but I have done that before.

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Added Insects

by Carl Strang

It’s fun to discover new things, and at Mayslake Forest Preserve I continue to add new species of insects or plants almost daily in the summer. This week the most recent added insect was the question mark butterfly.

This species is named for the tiny silvery markings on the hind wings.

Last week this moth appeared, and I’ve seen another since.

The yellow-collared scape moth is a smaller relative of the similar looking Virginia ctenucha.

An abundant visitor of flowers in the stream corridor prairie this summer has been the great black wasp.

This solitary species digs tunnels, where it places katydids and grasshoppers for its young to eat.

A final new species remains to be identified.

One of the biggest weevils I’ve ever seen, this interesting looking insect turned up in one of the kids’ sweep nets on Take Your Kids to Work Day.

Of course, it’s also enjoyable to see familiar insects.

The wild indigo dusky wing is one of our more common skippers. I have seen them hanging around wild indigo plants at Mayslake, but their caterpillars also feed on other legumes.

Lately I’ve been seeing scattered slender spreadwings.

The pale vein at the tip of the wing, as well as the dark abdomen tip on this male, are distinguishing features.

Two bluets appeared to be large enough, and matching the correct color pattern, to identify as familiar bluets. First was a male.

The violet color seemed odd.

Later a female appeared.

She was feeding on another damselfly, which appeared to be a newly emerged forktail.

I owe thanks to Linda Padera, who accompanied me on a lunch break walk and spotted some of these insects.

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