Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mystical Moths


Isn't this a striking creature?

I'm not sure what species of moth this is. If anyone knows please leave me a comment. I've tried to ID it thru Bug Guide but haven't quite narrowed it down yet.


In my efforts to make my yard a better habitat for birds, butterflies and bees, I've found that other little creatures tend to tag along as well - like moths.

I've taken a little time here recently to try and familiarize myself with moths and their purpose in the natural world. They are considered a pest to many. Some moth caterpillar species become invasive and can cause extensive damage to plants while others like the clothes moth can cause damage inside a home.

Aside from a few problematic species, moths play an important part in our ecosystem. They are a big part of the food chain, making meals for others like spiders, frogs, bats and birds. Moth larva also serve as a source of food for wildlife. Moths are also important pollinators. Many plants, especially night blooming ones, depend on moths for pollination.



Moths ans butterflies are closely related - both being of the order Lepidoptera. Some of the differences between moths and butterflies are fairly obvious if you look closely. Butterflies fly in the daytime, while most moths fly at night. Butterfly antennae are thin and smooth, with small clubs at the end. Moths have a thicker, feathery antennae, without the club on the end. Most moths have thicker bodies as well.


The above photo may look like a moth at first glance but if you notice the "clubs" (circled in red) on the end of its antennae, you will see that it's a butterfly.

Another easy way to tell butterfly and moths apart is to watch it land. If it's wings are folded together pointing up, its probably a butterfly. If its wings are folded against its body or pointing out flat from its sides, it's probably a moth.

My daughter has a bug book with a recipe for attracting moths - called "moth sugar". I personally haven't tried this but my daughter and I hope to do this before the summer ends.

Here is the recipe:

Moth Sugar

  • 3 tbs sugar
  • water
  • 2 tbs apple juice
  • 1 quart plastic jug/container
  • old paint brush
  • sponge

(1) Fill jug with water (2) mix sugar and apple juice into the jug of water (3) use the paint brush to brush the "moth sugar" on a rock, stump, fence post or wherever...or soak the sponge in the mixture and hang it up in a tree (4) just after dark, go see if you have any moth visitors!

Have a good weekend everyone!

Camera Critters

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Anonymous said...

Nice blog. i really think the pictures of butterfly are beautiful or may be it is the magic of your photography. Beth

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

That is an interesting moth Alan, looks like a leaf. Good explanation of moths vs. butterflies.

Unknown said...

Wow, what an illusion of a three-dimensional curled leaf. Fascinating!

WiseAcre said...

Nearest I came is:
Achemon sphinx - Eumorpha achemon

I found a photo on this site where I spend way too much time attempting to ID my photos

Martha said...

Very interesting moth. I photographed one similar a few months ago, without the black markings. I thought it looked like an alien spaceship!
Well done!

Camera Critters

Juliana said...

wow...I've never seen the moths before. Interest

My entry this week : in HERE. I hope you have time to visit. Thanks

??? said...

I second the Achemon sphinx ID - the website WiseAcre linked it very good and has photos for most species.
Awesome photos and I really like the idea of making your garden more butterfly/bee friendly. Have you tried attracting solitary bees/wasps? It's pretty easy, most only need a block of wood or a brick with holes to build their nests, like this It make take a while for them to come, but when they do, they will return every year :)

Snap said...

Oh, my! The first moth -- what great camo! How lucky you were to find him! Interesting post. Thanks!

b13 said...

What a great set of shots! That first moth is very cool looking.

EG CameraGirl said...

The top moth is extremely interesting. Great camouflage it wears!

Thanks for the moth recipe/ I'm going to copy the recipe and try it. ;-)

My Camera Critter is at
East Gwillimbury Wow

Lona said...

Just gorgeous photographs. The moth is so fascinating. It almost looks like it has black cut outs one it. Beautiful!

Unknown said...

Wow, that looked like a leaf, it obviously isn't but at a glance, you'd never know. Great find. Nice info on moths. I may have to try the moth recipe before it cools off.

Nature's Beauty said...

Interesting moth. I too thought it was a curled leaf. Enjoyed your blog. From a fellow Virginian (Lynchburg) and artist (oil/acrylic), happy gardening. Keep up the beautiful photography.

Dawn Fine said...

Great shots of the moths and butterflies Alan!
and also great info..might try that recipe too.
Oh..and welcome to twitter..
I follow mostly birders and you can look at who i follow and add them..
or here is a link for some twitter birders

See ya in tweetland

Dirkjogt said...

Wow, what I great moth, I've never seen this before.

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

I once lived in Pahang, and the house was not far from the jungle and a hill. Moths, bugs, crickets really come in various shapes, color and camouflage.

That magical moth is like having torn wings and hurriedly picked dead leaves as replacement.....


Cezar and Léia said...

wow how did you take this shot!Perfect post and awesome pictures!Happy camera critters,
purrs and love

Kelly said...

Interesting.....I'd like to try the moth sugar too. I'm just starting to learn about moths and butterflies, so this was a great post for me. I have no idea what that beauty is...

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a cool futuristic looking moth! This was a very interesting post. Thanks Alan!

dugfresh said...

great shot of that moth. an example of nature's camouflage at its best.

moths tend to be very unappreciated. they can be (and often are) more beautiful than butterflies.

the luna moth is a photographer's and nature lover's dream. kind of rare, so when you see one, it's sort of a magical moment.

i use for critter id. they rely on the folks at bug guide for some of their identification.

April Lorier said...

I leave here smarter, Alan. I never knew how to tell a moth from a butterfly. I feel so smart!!!

Jan said...

I really enjoyed your brief 'lesson' on how to tell a moth from a butterfly...I'll see if I can tell the difference when I look, next time. That first moth is quite amazing...looks surreal, not like a living thing at all! PS I'm glad you've joined Blotanical! I just saw your blog there today.

Janet Creamer Martin said...

Very cool moth! I have a moth on my blog, too.

Anonymous said...

Poor moths -- they can be just as beautiful as butterflies, but they just don't get the same respect most of the time. Aside from often being night-flyers and typically having less vibrant colors, so many of their species cross the line into being pests. Those pest ones give the rest a bad name!

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful moth. I'd never seen one like this before.

Jack said...

Nice post..really awesome pictures..Great to see unique pictures like this..

Are you scared to be alone at home need security

Unknown said...

I work at a museum in Ohio and am doing a moth program tomorrow. I love the moth recipe. We are going to have to tyr it tomorrow! Thanks!