Large Lace Border Moth: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — When I got back from my trike ride the other day, this lovely little moth was waiting for me in the ground cover along the foundation of our home. It was settled there, and I was able to put the camera in Macro mode and take this full frame close up at about 108mm equivalent. I did not know what the moth was, so I used the AI identification feature of my FieldGuides Leps app. I was not at all surprised at the name…it is what I would called this moth if I had the naming to do 🙂 Though it is the “large” lace border moth, it is only about an inch wing tip to wing tip. Nikon B700 as above. Shutter program with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Drasteria moth (probably Shadowy Arches): Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area, Maine, USA — I found this little moth fluttering close to the ground along the foot trail at Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area the other day. Some research this morning gets me as far as one of the Drasteria moths, possibly a Shadowy Arches, but I don’t know my moths well enough, or their ranges, to eliminate any of the other Drasterias. I think the Graphic Moth might be more common in Maine, but this one seems to have too much orange. 🙂 If anyone knows better, please leave a comment. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent from about 4 feet. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/640th.
Eight-spotted Forester and White-striped Black Moths, Emmon’s Preserve, Kennebunkport, Maine, USA. I went out to Emmon’s Preserve yesterday on my eBike, to see about early dragonflies, but mostly to see if the field of Lupine up the road from there was in full bloom yet. I found these two moths in one corner of the meadow above the Land Trust buildings. Two little back moths. There were quite a few of the White-striped Blacks, but I only saw the one Forester. I had to look them both up, as they were new to me. They are distinctive enough so that it was an easy search on the internet. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Snowberry Clearwing Moth, Kennebunk Plains Nature Conservancy. Kennebunk, Maine. — We had biking weather (above 60 degrees) over the weekend and I went out to the Kennebunk Plains Nature Conservancy. It has been the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area for several years, owned by the Nature Conservancy and managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, but evidently the Nature Conservancy has taken back the management duties this year, or so the new signs and gates would indicate. It is one of the few places where I often see Clearwing Moths. Last year I photographed the Hummingbird Clearwing on the Plains, and this weekend this Snowberry Clearwing was flying inches over the ground. At first I took it for one of those big ground bees, wood bees, bumble bees we get in spring but when I looked closer the clearwings were obvious. It appeared to laying eggs on the short stubble left form last September’s prescribed burn. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
I mentioned how impressed I was with the numbers of insects using the endangered Northern Blazing Star boom on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area here in southern Maine this week. Here are 4 leps (to add to the White-lined Sphinx Moth posted earlier). Painted Lady, Common Wood-nymph, Monarch, and what I think is a Wandering Gem moth. Something very Gem like anyway. The moth was tiny…it just covered the tip of my finger. Sony RX10iv at 600 and 1200mm equivalent (1200 at 2X Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
My friend Stef and I took a loop out through the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area yesterday to take in, among other things, the last of the Northern Blazing Star bloom. Blazing Star is endangered in Maine and the Plains are one of its last strongholds. I was reminded just how important a resource it is. Besides flocks of busy Goldfinches and Pine Warblers, the Blazing Star along Day Brook Pond was full of insects…butterflies and moths and bees and flies. When I first saw this White-lined Sphinx Moth I took it for one of the Clearwings. I have seen both Snowberry and Hummingbird Clearwings working the Blazing Star in the past. A closer look showed that despite similar size and behavior, this was a different moth. No transparent wings. I had to look it up when I got home. The White-lined Sphinx, like many Hawk moths, is mostly nocturnal, and mostly seen early and late, during dawn and dusk, so I can be forgiven for assuming it was a Clearwing. If I remember correctly, my only other sighting was years ago by artificial light on our back deck, feeding on the potted plants we keep there, when I, like many others, called it a Hummingbird Moth because of its size and behavior. (That name actually belongs to the Clearwing.) The White-lined Sphinx Moth occupies a huge range, all of North America and parts of Central America, and there are apparently known populations in Europe, Asia, and Africa. This one was very cooperative, working the same patch of Blazing Star for 15 minutes or more, and coming in close enough for lots of photos, before zooming off in search of a new patch of flowers. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
We saw hundreds, maybe even a thousand, of these spectacular migrating moths while in Panama. They were everywhere, from the Continental Divide at 4000 feet, to flying out over the bays of Bocas del Toro at sea level. It is the Urania Swallowtail Moth…a moth, despite looking very like a green and black swallowtail butterfly, and despite flying during the day. Of the huge number I saw, this is one of only two I saw perched. The other was at night on the ceiling of my cabin porch, next to the porch light. Interestingly, by the light of my flashlight or the flash on my camera (and I suspect any light striking the back of the moth near the perpendicular) the “green” is bright metallic gold.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. ISO 800 @ 1/250 @ f4. Processed and cropped slightly in Lightroom.
I have not been to Timber Point for many weeks and yesterday seemed like a good day, so… I got as far as a wonderful hay meadow full of Knapweed and other wildflowers, where I stopped to add to my “If Monet had lived in Maine” series of painterly meadow shots. While shooting the meadow I found many male Bobolinks singing from perches in the tall grass and flowers, so I went back to the car for my Nikon P900 and its long lens…only to discover that I had grabbed the wrong camera bag on the way out the door. My Nikon was still at home. 🙁 So there I was on a photoprowl with just my Sony HX90V and its 30x zoom. I know…it was only 4 years ago that 30x was the absolute limit of the superzoom world. I have to admit I am totally spoiled by the 83x, 2000mm equivalent zoom on the Nikon P900. Still, it was too far to go back, so I spent the morning pushing the limits of the HX90V and enjoying every moment of it.
After many Monet-like shots in the meadow, and, yes, a few of the Bobolinks with the HX90V’s zoom pushed out to 1440mm equivalent with 2x Clear Image Zoom, I went on to Timber Point. Unexpectedly fog was rolling across the point. Yes well…best laid plans and all that. You take what your get in photoprowls and as in life. I caught sight of this creature in the grasses near the point and could not get a pic, but there it was again in the deep shade along the boardwalk, working the Meadowsweet on the way back. I did my best to photograph it, and took many exposures. I honestly had no idea what it was, but it was an easy search on Google when I got back. I mean, how many orange-headed, blue bodied, moths can there be in Maine? Turns out: just one 🙂
Virginia Ctenucha is a common diurnal moth across the northern states and Canada, currently expanding its range all the way to the west coast in Canada. No one knows whether the nominal specimen was actually collected in Virginia, but Virginia is the extreme southern range of the moth, if it exists there at all. It is much more common further north. And I will cheerfully admit I have no idea how to pronounce the name…I could find no guidance on the web. Ctenucha. Either the C or the T must be mostly silent, or you must fake a vowel…as in “si ten u cha”. Anyway. Really interesting creature.
Sony HX90V at 720mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ ISO 125 @ f6.4. Cropped and processed in Lightroom.
I first saw this creature at the National Butterfly Center among the butterflies that also frequent the Mist Bush. This shot is from the butterfly gardens at the Bentsen Rio Grande State Park World Birding Center Visitor Center. I thought it was a wasp. It looks like a wasp, but like no wasp I have seen. A wasp in fancy dress? Art deco wasp? Clown wasp? Like maybe a wasp from somewhere far south of the border where they are not afraid to flash bright colors? A tropicana wasp? Take another look.
And then, while researching the White-tipped Black Moth that I also photographed at the NBC, using some photo keys to moths of the Rio Grande Valley, I found that there are moths that do not look my idea of a moth at all. When it came to identifying this bug, I thought of those odd moths I had seen, and typed “wasp like moth Rio Grande” into a Google search. Texas Wasp Moth came right up on top.
What an outrageous creature! I mean, look at those disco booties and the way too colorful feet…and what what is with the matching orange and black stripes? Then consider the totally unnecessary white accents, and the frivolous bright yellow tips on the antennas? Who designed this thing? 🙂
Canon SX50HS in Program with -1/3rd EV exposure compensation and iContrast. 1800mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Snapseed on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014.
And for the Sunday Thought: Well we are already started on it. Who designed this thing? Who has sufficient whimsy? Who has that kind of sense of humor…because I know this bug makes me laugh. And the fact that it is not even a wasp at all, but a harmless moth in an over-the-top costume, well that just caps it. I might have trouble getting by the stinging wasp thing, but as a moth, this is just a wonderful, amazing, delightful creature. Or that is what I think.
And of course I know, rationally, that it was not designed for my amusement or delight. But that whole beleaving, faith-based, seeing-wonders, wonderfilled side of me has to suspect that it was designed for someone’s amusement and delight. It is such a good joke! Too good a joke to have happened without intent. A lovely joke! A joke created and delivered with love. A living joke, that can only have come from the heart and the mind…from the loving intent of the creator of life. Or that is what I think. And thinking that makes me happy. I enjoy being able to share the joke…the delight…the wonder…the whimsy of the Texas Wasp Moth…with its author…and with you.
Now come on…doesn’t this non-wasp bug just make you simile! That is a good thing. Or that is what I think. 🙂
I spent several hours yesterday at Massachusetts Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary being the ZEISS guy for their yearly Optics Fair. Mostly I was talking optics but I did take them to chase down this interesting moth when it flew by.
At first I thought it was a particularly yellow Hummingbird Moth…or “Hummingbird Clearwing Moth” more properly…but further study shows it as the closely related Snowberry Clearwing. It was quite large: 2 inches tip to tail and with a 2 inch wingspan. Quite a creature!
Samsung Smart Camera WB250F in Program and Macro, with Intelligent Zoom to about 600mm equivalent field of view at 10 mega pixels. Processed in Snapseed on the Nexus 7. Cropped for scale.