Virginia Ctenucha Moth

Virginia Ctenucha Moth, Timber Point / Timber Island Trail, Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, ME

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.

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